More than a quarter (27%) of eight to 12-year-olds in Scotland meet the RSPB's target level of connection with nature, compared with a UK average of 21%.
The charity said its research with the University of Essex was in response to concern about a growing lack of contact between children and the natural world.
The three-year project aimed to develop a scientific way of gauging connection to nature, which RSPB Scotland hopes will become an annual measure.
Rebekah Stackhouse, education and youth programmes manager for RSPB Scotland, said: "It is widely accepted that today's children have less contact with nature than ever before.
"But until now, there has been no robust scientific attempt to measure and track connection to nature among children across the whole of the UK, which means the problem hasn't been given the attention it deserves.
"It's important we work in partnership in Scotland to take these initial findings and continue to develop a baseline specific to our country, which we can measure against year on year and track progress.
"The Scottish Government has shown leadership in supporting outdoor learning in schools, and in supporting the establishment of Learning for Sustainability Scotland, but it is clear that more must be done on all levels to ensure our children share a love of the natural world and desire to protect it."
The study involved 1200 children from across the UK who completed questionnaires designed to assess their enjoyment of nature, empathy for animals, sense of "oneness" with the natural world and responsibility for the environment.
Each child was given an average score from -2 to 2 based on their answers. The charity said it believes a score of 1.5 is a "realistic and achievable target for every child".
The percentage of children with a score of 1.5 or more was 25% in Northern Ireland, 13% in Wales and 21% in England.
Researchers also found a significant difference in the percentage of girls UK-wide who met the target (27%) compared with boys (16%).
Mathilde Mazau, a mother of two girls, said it was important that children were allowed time to play and explore in nature.
She lives in Glasgow with her partner and their two daughters, Rose, three, and two-year-old Jane, and although they do not have access to a large garden space, she said they tried to spend as much time outside as possible, venturing to Kelvingrove and Pollock parks as well as Loch Lomond.
Ms Mazau said: "The children love being outside playing in mud puddles, picking up leaves and feathers, and climbing trees. My eldest daughter enjoys looking for insects, especially spiders. Being outdoors really helps them to learn and develop.
"Their physical abilities, social skills and happiness all benefit from the fresh air. And it helps to tire them out so they sleep well at night."
Calum and Karen Bennett, from Edinburgh, agreed that youngsters should be encouraged to play outdoors.
The couple, parents to eight-year-old Hugh and six-year-old Duncan, said living in the centre of Edinburgh could sometimes make it more difficult because of concerns about traffic and unsupervised play.