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Ground-breaking national Generation Green project exceeds projected reach

The ground-breaking £2.5million Generation Green project launched during the pandemic, has exceeded expectations, reaching more than 115,000 young people and children in just 16 months.

National Park engagement ranger staff from the Peak District were among those leading the scheme, which welcomed young people to the UK’s first national park as part of a range of inspiring training and skills opportunities in the area.

The project delivery partners are now calling for further national funding to be made available to ensure every child has meaningful access to National Parks, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs) and other green and blue spaces to enable them to develop the skills needed to look after the environment.

Anita Kerwin-Nye, Access Unlimited Founder and Generation Green Sponsor, said: “As the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) looks to honour its pledge to ensure that every young person in England will have access to regular out-of-school activities, adventures away from home and opportunities to volunteer by 2025, and Defra looks to give every child a night under the stars, the Generation Green partnership provides a vehicle to achieve this ambition in an efficient way.”

Lorna Fisher, Peak District National Park engagement manager who was part of the team that led the programme across the country, said: “To reach so many young people whilst the country still remain gripped with the impacts of the covid pandemic is a remarkable achievement.

“We were thrilled to be able to host overnight stays in the heart of the Peak District for many of those taking part. Our national park colleagues also shared their own career experiences and professional expertise, whilst gaining an important insight to the needs of new audiences that reached out to national parks and green spaces as part of the post-Covid recovery.

“We’d now like to see the funding support to build on its success and momentum.”

Funded by the government’s Green Recovery Challenge Fund, from Defra and Heritage Lottery Fund, Generation Green was led by Access Unlimited, a collaboration of 15 not-for-profit outdoor education providers – YHA (England & Wales) Girlguiding, Scouts, Field Studies Council, The Outward Bound Trust and the 10 English National Parks.

For many young people a Generation Green experience was the first time they had had the opportunity to connect with nature. The experiences, which were delivered throughout England by the coalition members, enabled a total reach of 115,824 individual young people.

Notable achievements of the Generation Green project include:

·         39,476 young people experienced a facilitated day or residential trip, or self-led experience

·         A third (33%) of young people who undertook a residential trip were from an ethnic minority background

·         6,000 day visits and 2,014 overnight stays – ‘nights under the stars’ took place

·         27,762 activity hours of practical conservation were delivered across National Parks

·         3,531 trees were planted

·         767 professional or skilled volunteer outdoor leaders were trained

·         33 individuals were employed through jobs or apprenticeships with Access Unlimited partners

·         Digital learning resources, created by the National Parks, increased the reach of the project by an additional 75,000.

·         In the Peak District, 622 young people were engaged with in 116 events, and 113 volunteer opportunities were delivered

Generation Green was inspired by the government’s Landscapes Review in 2019 undertaken by Julian Glover, which highlighted the inequality of access to the outdoors and green spaces. The pandemic further compounded the lack of access with an estimated 1,137,820 children in England living through lockdown without a garden.

Launched January 2021 against the backdrop of the pandemic, Generation Green prioritised young people living in areas of deprivation, black and minority ethnic groups, and those from disadvantaged backgrounds.

The project has created jobs, apprenticeships, volunteer opportunities, delivered training and day and residential experiences in nature for thousands of young people across the Access Unlimited partners.

James Blake, Chief Executive, YHA (England & Wales) said: “Further government funding would enable Glover’s ambition to be achieved and create ongoing connections with nature benefitting future generations.”

During the project’s delivery The University of Derby’s Nature Connection Research Group was commissioned to carry out an academic study of the effect of the day and residential trips on young people’s level of connection with nature, environmental responsibility, pro-nature conservation behaviours and wellbeing. Amongst its findings, the report found that 91% of the young people reached through Generation Green felt more connected to nature and 86% felt more confident being outdoors.

Copies of the Generation Green Celebration and Impact Report, which outlines the case for further funding, have been supplied to government ministers and Defra. Download the report and view a short film showing the people involved in this ground-breaking project at


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