Inspiring young people to treasure our coast

Olivia Thomas, Senior Marine Policy Manager at The Crown Estate

24 June 2015

School children on Kent coast

As a large coastal landowner and the organisation responsible for the seabed, here at The Crown Estate we are working hard to ensure that the next generation understands the importance of the marine and coastal environment – how it can be used and how it can be protected and conserved for the future.

Our beaches and seabed are invaluable resources for our local communities and the wider society, whether through providing diverse natural habitats, enabling offshore renewable energy or offering leisure opportunities in the great outdoors.

Over the summer, I had the pleasure of taking part in Coast Explorer sessions with students from across London and Kent. This outdoor education programme, run by charity partner the P1 Marine Foundation, was designed to inspire young people to treasure our nation’s marine and coastal environment. It gave children the chance to form personal connections with the seaside and raise their awareness of the value of this natural resource, at the same time as improving their understanding of how it can be used and how we can protect it over the long term.

Boy holding crab

Exploring coastal wildlife

The Crown Estate was delighted to provide funding and support to enable the P1 Marine Foundation to get this important initiative off the ground in 2013, alongside one of our marine occupiers, Swedish energy firm Vattenfall, and local authority partner Canterbury City Council. Following the success of the pilot programme, Coast Explorer has given over 1,500 children the chance to enjoy interactive, hands-on activities and sessions at a special coastal site in Kent.

Alongside activities linked to coastal habitats, marine ecology and conservation, Coast Explorer includes sessions on renewable energy, improving the next generation’s understanding of how the marine and coastal environment can be used.

When I took part in the sessions on renewable energy with Melanie Rogers of Vattenfall, I was impressed by the students’ questions, which often touched on actual logistical challenges involved in offshore wind farming. After running 115 metres along the seafront to get an idea of the immense height of each wind turbine at Kentish Flats Wind Farm, one student asked whether the turbines had lifts in them – the answer is yes. Another asked whether a helicopter could be landed on them – again yes. Another, whether they needed cleaning because they’re white – again yes.

Over 1,500 children

took part in activities in Kent

I was also struck, as I looked around the diverse group of young people gathered on the beach for Coast Explorer, by optimism about the potential future workforce we are helping to nurture. During the course of the day, the students met enthusiastic people working in marine conservation and renewable energy, and found out about career paths and job opportunities. So, here’s looking at our diverse pool of talent for the future, one made up of men and women of all backgrounds, who value the marine and coastal environment and are keen to contribute to its sustainable development over the long term!

Further information

Coast Explorer