'wildness' as a double-bind for connection

The mission of iNaturalist is to connect humans to nature, but is this a double bind if ‘wildness’ is seen as existing outside of human intervention?
It seems to me that many people dont realise just how interdependent humans and plants have been. The concept of ‘wildness’ seems to still be rooted in Darwin’s ideas, and doesn’t take into account indigenous human existence.
There is an unmanageable amount of threads on here about iNaturalist categorisations, and that’s great work. But the point I’m trying to explore is how to leave room for the concept of ‘wildness’ to reincorporate humanity back into it, as humanity reconnects.


ok but could you post some examples?


As I understand it, “wild” in this case simply means “This individual plant or animal got here on its own,” while “not wild” means “People put this individual here.” This is an important concept for one of iNaturalist’s missions, which is to provide data that allows us to understand organisms’ shifting ranges. Do you have another pair of short, easily understood words to recommend for distinguishing between these concepts?

I agree with you that humans are a part of nature is true and important, and that this can be obscured by naming things natural vs. human or wild vs. not wild. I personally think that’s another issue, though, too big for iNaturalist to solve. (I do not speak for iNaturalist!)


Nature, as used by iNat, is a narrower definition than most of us recognize. A study of nature can include the physical world in addition to biology – the fields of geology, astronomy, meteorology, hydrology, etc. A tornado chaser is a person who is also trying to connect to nature by experiencing a weather event close up, although hopefully not too close. But for our purposes, nature is the biosphere and includes all organisms other than humans.

If you’re looking for a connection to pristine nature (“wildness”?), untouched by human activities, you might be out of luck. Humans are a product of nature – we got here by the same evolutionary processes that produced all other life. In addition, our activities have affected nearly all life on earth to one degree or another, so we are already part of nature, even if we might have considered ourselves separate from it by definition.


It took me a long time to accept that humans are part of nature. I took a course in bio-cultural diversity when I did my Masters (Development Practice), and found some of the papers published by https://www.iucn.org/theme/protected-areas (especially category V) opened my eyes a bit. Especially Values of Protected Landscapes and Seascapes no. 1. May have to search for that document specifically, but it is a good introduction.
However, I still dislike humans disrupting ecosystems - I’m just a little more tolerant!


doesn’t take into account indigenous human existence.

i think this one really deserves some elaboration as to what you mean?


The interconnectedness of all life is a central theme of Darwin’s ideas. He was the first scientist to take the concept of the Tree of Life really seriously and build it into a complete theoretical framework that could explain the entire evolutionary history of life on earth. The notion that he didn’t intend his theory to fully apply to humans as well is just plain wrong. His journals from the voyages of the Beagle include many encounters with indigenous peoples, and it’s obvious that these experiences affected him deeply and had a great impact on his later thinking.


My Masters in Development Practice (University of Winnipeg) was indigenous based. Essentially, Indigenous societies have been interacting with with non-human nature, basically for as long as we have been around. Category V protected areas focuses on agro-biodiversity, as well as natural bio-diversity. Large predatory mammals can exist alongside people in a place like Oaxaca Mexico, or even in heavily populated places in India. Since biodiversity is greatest along ‘edges’ (bush and open) Indigenous and low intensity farming generally promotes diversity, as opposed to the high intensity farming in rich nations. In somewhat isolated places (like the Gaspe area in Quebec), there are unique breeds of livestock which are not intensively farmed. The livestock are unique, and the way they are raised increases the biodiversity of the region they are in. So, basically low intensity human activity, like Indigenous farming and hunting, can help to create habitats for non-human life forms. High intensity farming &etc, not so much.
It’s been a while, but I think that is a decent summary.


I don’t get Darwin part either, which of his ideas is against of human&plant connection?

In his own day and in ours, a major cause of resistance to Darwin’s ideas is that people want to keep a clear separation of humans vs. other organisms. Evolution really doesn’t let people do that.


I can’t remember where I heard or read it, but something to the effect that in respect to Darwins theories, the Church wasn’t so much concerned about the “man as part of the animal kingdom” aspect, but more the notion that it wasn’t “all things bright and beautiful”, rather more survival of the fittest.

The Catholic church at this point is OK with evolution, though we humans are different from all other organism in that we are thought to have souls. Quite a number of Christian churches (and many, many individuals) are appalled at the idea that we are animals. That competition thing wasn’t a big help for popular acceptance either, of course.

Darwinism as a justification for defining Australia as ‘terra nullius’.

‘racist’ ‘futile’

Yes, but do we need to have philosophy threads shut down for acknowledging the limitation of it? Because this is the second time I’ve had to start a thread to have a discussion, and I’m just being more explicit. Surely its not iNaturalist that solves anything but the people that use it. Therefore it’s not the role of iNaturalist to privilege their own philosophy?

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I think the term ‘biosphere’ is helpful, because it highlights human’s current atomised isolation, rather than a necessary identity. I’m pretty satisfied with this. TERRA NULLIUS = THE BIOSPHERE

Back then, yes. But now, it has the opposite effect, because not all people are white scientists.

I’m not sure I follow your logic - you agree with the Church/evolution statement, but then follow up with “not all people are white scientists”. What has the former to do with the latter?
Evolution has been widely misunderstood. The ‘survival of the fittest’ has little meaning outside Social Darwinism. It is widely assumed that people are the pinnacle of evolution, yet there are many environments where humans are unable to survive, but ‘lower’ forms of life thrive. “Terra nullis” was a European construct that fit their world view - Indigenous people were not ‘real’ humans, so the place was theirs for the taking because they were ‘fitter’, more advanced.
Your original statement was fine - humans are part of Nature, even in large cities. Yes we modify the environment in a way most species have not done, and perhaps “wildness” is the wrong word. I prefer ‘non-human life’, as it implies it can live alongside of us.