In 2005 Richard Louv published Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-deficit Disorder. The central idea of the book was that regular experience in nature is a fundamental requirement for healthy human development. Louv pointed to a growing body of evidence-based scientific literature that relates many health and wellness issues with the lack of time children spend outdoors in nature. To characterize the results, Louv coined the term nature-deficit disorder, which “…describes the human costs of alienation from nature, aiming them: diminished use of the senses, attention difficulties, and higher rates of physical and emotional illness.” Louv’s compelling expression of the human need for nature sparked an international movement to connect children with nature. Today, based on a large and increasing body of scientific research, regular experience in nature is increasingly seen as a foundational element in the positive development of happiness, healthy, and intellectual capacity in children.
In 2008, Ontario’s Royal Botancial Gardens (RBG) convened a meeting of a wide group of interested partites with the objective of establishing a collaborative effort to promote the child and nature movement in Ontario. As a result of the gathering, RBG, Parks and Recreation Ontario (PRO) and Ontario Nature joined together to approach the Ontario Trillium Foundation (OTF) with a proposal to fund a child and nature initiative. The intent was to create a network of organizations that build community capacity to connect children with nature. In April, 2011, with the generous support of the OTF, the Back to Nature Network (B2N) began work to accomplish this goal.
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This network is funded through the support of The Ontario Trillium Foundation, an agency of the Government of Ontario.