A new UK government campaign launched today (Tuesday, May 30) aims to encourage young people to “respect, protect and enjoy” the countryside.

The campaign follows new research from Natural England which shows that 80% of children and young people agree that looking after the environment was important to them, and 83% said they wanted to do more to look after nature and wildlife.

A firm family cartoon favourite – Shaun the Sheep – has also been revealed as the new champion of Natural England’s ‘Countryside Code’.

From the fictional character’s home of Mossy Bottom farm, he and his friends will follow the Countryside Code and show children how to care for nature, follow signs and share the space with others, Natural England said.

Chief executive of Natural England, Marian Spain, said the Shaun the Sheep cartoon show is the perfect catalyst for Natural England’s message relating to protecting and respecting the countryside.

“Shaun the Sheep and his endearing friends are the perfect illustration for the next generation of explorers on how to respect, protect and enjoy nature, whether in parks in towns and cities, at the seaside or in the countryside,” she said.

“We know that children care deeply about the environment, and that 85% of children feel happy spending time outdoors – so it’s really important that we help young people enjoy the invaluable health and wellbeing benefits that nature offers, while giving it the respect it deserves.”

The new campaign, which was launched in collaboration with the show’s animation company Aardman, will see the creation of a suite of assets to help inform children and young people about the messages of the code, and how to ensure the outdoors is a place for everyone to enjoy, Natural England said.

Senior brand manager at Aardman, Rachael Peacock, said: “It’s great to be working with Natural England on this engaging and informative Countryside Code campaign.

“Living on Mossy Bottom Farm, Shaun’s connection to the countryside makes him a baa-rilliant and fun ambassador for nature, and we look forward to encouraging families to enjoy the outdoors respectfully.”

Shaun the Sheep’s “countryside adventures” will be shared via Natural England’s social media accounts.