Sir David Attenborough says children need more opportunities to observe nature

Sir David Attenborough arrives for the global launch of BBC Studio’s Planet Earth III (Ian West/PA)
Sir David Attenborough arrives for the global launch of BBC Studio’s Planet Earth III (Ian West/PA)

Sir David Attenborough has said children should be given more opportunities to observe and understand the natural world.

The naturalist, 97, returns to BBC One on Sunday with a third installment of his hit series Planet Earth, and in an earlier timeslot than usual.

Producers have said they hope this means more children will be able to tune in.

The second series of Planet Earth launched on the BBC in 2016 at 8pm, but the new series will air at 6.15pm.

Sir David, who has two adult children, said parents should give children the opportunity to find moments where they engage with and understand nature.

He said: “The reality is that there are worlds outside the playground and outside human society.

“There is another world out there which operates under a whole different set of rules and at a different pace.

“Children have an instinctive understanding about the way the world operates. If you watch a child at the age of five or six, they are absorbed in looking at how an insect is behaving, how a bee is collecting pollen.

“Simple things that are happening all the time but the degree of attention that a child will give it.

“We as parents should give children that opportunity to find those particular moments in which they understand the natural world.

“By and large, children are better at understanding the natural world and as adults we should be making more opportunities for them to do that.

“Watching a child absorb something which we take for granted and don’t think about is very touching.”

Sir David also issued a warning about the perils of deforestation, saying: “The huge problem is the way we are gobbling up space, and have gobbled up space as though it belongs to us and nobody else.

“And the notion that you should actually have to restrain yourself in order to accommodate the natural world is not one which everybody feels.

“We need to persuade people that it’s quite a selfish thing to do because, apart from anything else, we depend upon the natural world and we had assumed that the natural world was inextinguishable for many, many years and no matter what we did, we could do what we like, because the natural world was always there.

“It is not always there, simply because we have now become such a dominant species in terms of numbers, we have come to realise that we have to live together and not just entirely on the terms that we choose.”

Planet Earth, which has been a ratings hit for the BBC, will return for a third series, with Sir David offering his signature authoritative commentary.

Sharing some insight into how he scripts the episodes, he said: “You mustn’t be too wordy. The one key, I think, is that a picture is more powerful than a spoken word and if you give people the two things, the thing that they remember is the picture. You can’t ignore pictures.

“Having written a commentary the first thing to do is to carefully see what you can get rid of.”

Planet Earth III begins on BBC One and iPlayer on October 22 at 6.15pm.