What do you think is good in nature?
- Active wildlife?
- Its beauty?
- The wide range of colours?
- Something else?
While each of us would probably answer the question in a slightly different way, Dr Miles Richardson and colleagues at the University of Derby1 have identified 10 themes that capture everyday good things in nature that promote a person’s sense of connection to nature:
- Sensations of nature. Such as the sights (e.g. looking at a beautiful rose), sounds (e.g. bird song), smells (e.g. freshly cut grass), touch (e.g. warmth of the sun on skin), tastes (e.g. eating fruits).
- Growth and temporal changes. Such as observing daffodils emerging in Spring, new buds on trees and seasonal changes.
- Wildlife activity. For example, squirrels running across branches, birds’ courtship behaviours.
- Specific aspect of nature. Some particular feature of nature that enthuses the observer, e.g. a specific plant, a specific animal or a specific feature of nature (such as a rainbow).
- Beauty or wonder of nature. Appreciating the sheer beauty of, for example, a natural landscape; marvelling at features and processes of nature (e.g. a spider web, how plants can crack concrete).
- Effect of weather. For example, finding pleasure in watching how the wind creates changing wave-like patterns in fields of grass; watching raindrops bend flowers.
- Colours of nature. For example, the bright yellow of buttercups; the orange underbelly of a slug.
- Reflections on the weather. Judgements about the weather (e.g. how nice the weather is today); observations about weather phenomena (e.g. a dramatic hail storm); noting the dynamic nature of weather (e.g. sunlight ‘battling’ to break through dark clouds).
- Wildlife interacting. Observing animals engaging in activity with at least one other animal (e.g. pigeons walking together; ducks ‘playing’ together on a pond).
- Good feelings from nature. Positive feelings and states of mind induced by observing or being in nature (e.g. feelings of tranquillity while walking along a stream).
While the above ten themes appear to categorise the vast majority of ‘good things in nature’ that people note, there are also several other good things that cannot be unequivocally assigned to any theme. As they do not appear to have sufficient things in common they also do not form a theme of their own. In addition, the research conducted to identify these themes was largely conducted in urban environments. Participants in the study were asked to identify good things in nearby nature. This could be something as seemingly trivial as hearing a pigeon coo or observing the movement of a tree in the wind. Living in the Breamish Valley within north Northumberland, we are located in a rich rural landscape. I wonder if the same themes that inspire urban and semi-urban dwellers are the same ones that inspire us.
What do you think?
Do the same themes accurately capture your sense of what you find good in nature?
What aspects of nature do you celebrate and value?
What connects you to nature?
Richardson, M., Hallam, J. and Lumber, R. ‘One thousand good things in nature: Aspects of nearby nature associated with improved connection to nature’ Forthcoming in Environmental Values [WWW] http://www.erica.demon.co.uk/EV/papers/Richardson.pdf Accessed on 14 January 2015.