What does the word 'Nature' include?

I often get confused from the various opinions in various threads as to what we actually think about the word ‘Nature’?
Making our city a Botanical Garden, making our city a Zoological Garden?
I strongly believe we won’t be able to get the meaning of ‘Nature’ or will be able to be even a below average Naturalist (as I’m now), unless we feel it practically no matter how much knowledge we gathered from Wikipedia, Google Search, YouTube Vids, iNat infos etc.
What does nature include?
This includes all things animal, plant, and mineral; all natural resources and events (e.g., hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes). It also includes the behavior of living organisms, and the processes (e.g., erosion, metamorphism, fossilization) associated with inanimate objects (copied from Wikipedia).
I have observed few posts as:

Damaging nature just walking through the forest foraging for food? Animals (Bears, Elephants and others- all themselves are part of nature) while foraging and eating fruits, nuts disperse seeds which are deposited on the forest floor with a little ‘fertilizer’ (say Elephant dung) to get it started, make pathways in dense forested habitat that allow passage for other animals, clean up carcasses and, as predators, they help keep populations such as deer, monkey etc in balance.

It is an irony that ‘Nature’ itself is being blamed as ‘Nature Damager’

Such acts do not make any harm if some experts do it for some right reason (like if a Tiger Kills a Deer in the animal world). Harmful to a massive extent when done by massive numbers of Enthusiasts just for fun or to enroll their name in some Platforms etc, as it is very easy and cheap way to get attention rather than to feel the nature (or like massive hunting of ducks/animals to show just bravery- in the animal world).
I’ll like to draw attention to another Thread: What is your Favorite Lifer from this week?
Why Animals never become favourite Lifer ever? (Black Mamba, Tiger, Crocodile (Saltwater, Mugger, Nile, Caiman… any), Anaconda, King Cobra, Gharial, Lion (African or Asiatic), Leopard (Panthera pardus), Komodo, Hyena, Jaguar, Common/Sarus/Demoiselle Crane, hippopotamus, rhinoceros, Cheetah, Wolf (Animal-any type)…no, nobody.
Everybody has seen them? There is no need to see them? They’re not the part of nature? There’s no credit/pride in mentioning them as lifer? IDK

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I suspect most people posting in the forum live in urban areas where large animals are rare (except for certain common synanthropic species). Many of us do our nature observing close to home, so the new animals we are most likely to see are arthropods and other small creatures. Even on trips to less human-dominated environments (nature reserves etc.), large vertebrates are shy and not easy to find in many parts of the world – so being able to add such animals to one’s life list is not a common occurrence.

A question: why do you consider that insects and spiders are not animals?


After posting I thought once, should I edit the portion as 'Animal (other than arthropods etc), then left it considering that my point (objects) would be understood by the Species mentioned).
Yes, I should have written that specifically as 'Animals (Other Than …).

However, Sometimes we need to go out (specifically the next gen). I could not realize what the Himalayas are until I went to the Himalayas. U may replace the word Himalayas with Forests/Jungles/IBAs and so on.

As I love to watch Wildlife vids of al over the world, AI of YT has suggested me the following vid for my Inspiration:

The above vid drawn a huge number of views and likes. I, along with million people got very much inspired and learnt that Tigers (!) are available in Kenia/ Masai Mara/ Tanzania (!), and what should ideally be done with a Tiger (so that I may be worshipped as a Hero).
But I couldn’t understand who the stupid is? The Tiger or me?

Here are Southern African lions for you
Savanna elephants

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Thanks for sharing. I know observations are there (even I myself posted few). I have seen a lot from iNAT which I have never seen in my life. But I was not talking about posting of observation in iNAT.
Intention of my posting is that Animal (which I mean) importance is vey sparingly discussed in the Forum leading to misconceptions about contribution of a Savanna/Asiatic Elephants, Bears or any such others towards nature.

The previous topic which spawned this one discussed whether humans are part of nature. I’m not going to give a yes or no answer. I just want to raise the issue that if we say humans are part of nature and everything we do is natural, that excuses oil pollution, plastic litter, global warming, clearing forests to make space for cities, mining etc. etc. They are all just natural events, no different from a badger latrine or a termite mound.

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And we are part of Nature…not some separate creatures.
Being destructive is one thing (mining, logging, pretty to the eye lawns and golf courses, huge concrete and steel structures, etcetra)… but unrolling a leaf is a different thing.
Nature is not so sensitive that it will not recover from the simple unrolling of a leaf.


My actual job title is “naturalist” (specifically interpretive naturalist) and I am expected to know about plants and animals, obviously, but also about geography, meteorology, and astronomy. We purposely burn parts of the wetland to create good habitat for certain animals, and sometimes animals die (I just saw an iNat observation of a dead skunk after a burn; I think it probably suffocated on the rich ash). We also rely on synthetic herbicide to kill trees to keep the wetland and wetland instead of a forest.

Also in the description of my workplace’s values are things that people might find surprising like “food justice,” which forgives leasing parts of the wetland every year for crops. It also helps excuse hunting and fishing such a “natural” habitat. Because I specifically work in a wetland, I’m also expected to know the fine details abut how wetlands affect groundwater usage and flood damage to cities. As far as what my state values, all of that is part of nature as implied by my role as a “naturalist.” That is the fine difference between “conservation” and “preservation.”


Not from a leaf. But if the population was small, that one might be significant. If it is Must Have A Photo for Social Media …
The humans who live in popular tourist destinations are taking strain from that Photo impact.


High volume of visitors : Table Mountain is a popular escape from the bustling metropolis of Cape Town, with human activity a significant cause of soil erosion in the habitat. Boardwalk construction would reduce bank erosion

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I think there just isn’t a single definition that pleases all and everyone. And not every possible definition is useful in every circumstance.

For me personally, “nature” isn’t a place, but a system. Anything that adheres to the principles of that system is “part of nature”. Also, the “nature” of any thing usually tries to define the most basic principles something adheres to (e.g. “it is human nature to do […]”, or simply “it’s natural to […]”).

Often when using the word nature, however, people mean any place with no or minimal human influence. I don’t like that because it’s too black and white and it assumes that generally humans aren’t part of nature (which I don’t agree with).
I personally think that the word “wilderness” or something along those lines is more fitting for these circumstances.

Also, on a tangent: I also strongly disagree with assigning any value to the word “nature”. Just because something is natural doesn’t mean it is good. (Take a volcanic eruption or an asteroid impact, for example)


I strongly disagree with this. Nature ≠ good
Nature by itself is a term that doesn’t give away any information on whether something is good or bad. It is an objective term, but “good” and “bad” are always subjective.

A predator catching, killing, and eating prey: Good? Not for the pray. Bad? Not for the predator. Natural? Yes.

Humans destroying many habitats: Good? Not for the things living there or anywhere nor for humanity as a whole. Bad? Not for the people doing it, as they get money from it and likely won’t have to deal with the full consequences. Natural? I’d argue, yes.

Whether something is a net positive or a net negative and whether or not is should be done, that’s ethics. I strongly believe that destroying the environment is unethical and should not be done even though I believe it to be natural…


The terms nature and natural are rather overused and the definitions somewhat amorphous. There are many different definitions and people interpret the words differently. Even naturalist has different definitions, from someone who studies nature to someone who practices a certain style of art to someone with a philosophy that all things can be explained by natural (not supernatural) processes and therefore are discoverable by science. The last is philosophical naturalism. Occasionally naturalist is conflated with naturist (= nudist).

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I hesitate to jump in on this, insofar as it’s one of those topics that suffers from a lack of consensus about what the word means. But what the hey…

Humanity is altering the world around it precisely because everything we do is connected in various ways to natural processes. We don’t reduce biodiversity and alter climate from a position outside nature, we make changes because nothing that we do is not part of natural systems. That doesn’t mean that oil spills are good or value neutral because they are “natural”. Good and bad are value judgments that we make as moral agents, not components of biological or physical systems. To a sociopath or a certain type of profiteer oil spills are undoubtedly good, because they don’t see what happens to the environment around them as something they need to care about. To most other folks they are bad for a bunch of reasons that I hope I don’t need to list.

Human exceptionalism is a fallacy rooted in religious and cultural belief/mythology and we need to get over the notion that humans are not animals that exist within ecological systems. We are part of and, to a large extent, are drivers of processes that are fundamental to the interactions of biological and physical systems on the planet.

I try to avoid using words like nature. Sometimes it’s not possible to avoid its use as a shorthand to convey a point without bogging down in long-winded explanations.


*I read your thoughtful post. Plants, animals and human beings are always inextricably linked everywhere with geography, meteorology, and astronomy of that region. Different surroundings have to be handled differently based on its location, climate pattern etc.
Assume I am just a common man, but since I have been dealing with these issues for a long time Iin practical fields, I know a wetland/Grassland has to be/are burnt periodically for replantation with specific types of suitable grasses (we call them Dhadda, Chepti, Malsa etc for the Elephant Grasses) to create good habitat for certain animals like Herbivores say elephants, rhinoceros, Sambar…(an yearly must in all the grassland forests e.g (the Dooars and NE Indian Gasslands). Many Animals die during the Floods in Kaziranga, but if the region is not flooded for two years, more will die owing to non-vegetation. What to do where and when depends on different nature in different places.
Wetlands or the “the kidneys.”- its connection with underground purified water levels, declaration of some species as Vermin, Extent of fishing/hunting etc are issues to be handled differently in different areas. Problems occur in its limit of implementation. Overfishing or overdrawing of water for firming, overhunting/un-necessary hunting etc will always remain as a long lasting debates everywhere. We have lost the glory of so many Pelicanry, Bird habitats owing to such issues I wish I could talk to you face to face, because many things cannot be and should not be said on a small circle.


This para is not clear to me.

The first part is about the subjectivity of good and bad. (Almost) nothing is either universally good or universally bad. The vast majority of things are good for some and bad for others. (For example: If deforestation was bad for everyone, no one would be doing it, but there are people who profit off of it and some, sadly, whose livelihood depends on it)
That’s (partly) why it is false to just say “everything that is natural is good, everything that isn’t is bad”.
(That was my response to jhbratton saying that if humans were a part of nature and all we do is natural, that would be an excuse for us destroying the environment. It isn’t.)

As for why I believe that humans destroying the environment is natural (but, again, neither ethical, nor “good”), I didn’t explain, as I didn’t want my reply to be so long. But pmeisenheimer put it very elegantly and much better than I could have:


Why do you consider large vertebrates to be a more salient part of “nature” than arthropods (an incredibly species-rich and diverse group)? Why are “wild” spaces (jungles etc.) more interesting than the biodiversity that has managed to establish itself right outside our doors in spite of human activity?

If I want to understand how ecosystems (= “nature”, by some definitions) work, I can observe this just as easily in some neglected empty lot close to home or even in the miniature ecosystem developing on my plant-filled balcony as I can by getting in a train and travelling to a nature reserve that more fully fits the expectation of “wilderness”. I’m not saying the latter isn’t also valuable to experience, but it isn’t an either/or proposition: there is nothing to prevent one from exploring both types of nature. The nature at my doorstep happens to be more readily accessible and available to me at any time. The nature reserve isn’t.


So, this can be thought in this way also! This is the advantage of discussing a matter in such an outstanding Forum. So many thoughts of so many wise persons in this world.

I have worked nearly all my life with language in one form or another, so the meaning of words is particularly important to me. When people use phrases such as “man is part of nature”, I actually hear “man is part of the ecosphere”, or on a smaller scale “man is part of this or that ecosystem”. And yes, that is absolutely true. In fact, I would say that man is now a large or small part of every ecosystem on this planet, whether directly or indirectly.
But is man part of nature? Well, actually I don’t believe he can be, simply because the word “nature” was invented to describe everything which is not human or human-derived. This is even more clear when we look at the word “natural”, used to define everything which exists in, or is derived from nature, as opposed to “artificial”, in other words, produced by man.