What is Nature Culture?


A Nature Culture sustains nature as a fundamental part of its traditions, customs, livelihoods and beliefs. Nature Culture encompasses the need for sustainable lifestyles by creating a demand for products as part of the culture. It also provides a philosophy for innovation, technology, arts and science.

One reason why a Nature Culture has merits is the benefits accrued from nature.

There is a legion of studies that make a plausible case that nature provides benefits to our physical and emotional health and childhood development. I suggest you read Paul Sandifer and co-authors’ review. The strength of the studies they reviewed was sufficient for Sandifer and others to conclude that nature derived benefits were likely although the mechanisms were not well understood. The British Ecological Society has done a nice job of summarizing this discussion.

Many cities are adopting aspects of a Nature Culture; Vancouver , Bristol and Oslo are a few examples. ‘Greening’ cities and they way we live is an important step in moving toward sustainable lifestyles. A Nature Culture exhibits appreciation of sustained nature in celebrations and traditions.

I can imagine regional responses emerging rooted in local nature that comes to define the region. A cultural response is typically expressed through local arts, but I imagine Nature Culture to encompass fields such as science, innovation, technology, and traditional celebrations. One of the most exciting aspects will be to see how the imaginations of people from all backgrounds express a Nature Culture.

You might be asking how to get involved? Start with an audit of your lifestyle to see where you might make changes to a more sustained world. The exercise is often illuminating. It will show you the easy and not-so-easy things you might change. For example, look where your food comes from, how you travel, how you heat or cool your home, the clothes you buy, and the products you use around your home. Whether you choose to change your habits or not is your choice, and the exercise will be good food for thought around your next dinner party.

Speaking of dinner parties, our family holds what we call a First Day Feast each January 1 using entirely local food. We have held four feasts so far with few repeat dishes. What surprised us was how much local food was available. This might not be the situation where you live but the fun is exploring what is available. You might decide to put away food when in season for a later feast.

First Day Feast was a way for our family to learn where food comes from in our region and a means to support local producers. We look for products that are harvested sustainably. In our small way, the First Day Feast has become part of our family tradition that has at is core some of the fundamentals of a Nature Culture.

The First Day Feast concept became a community event in 2015. The first Active Pass Nature and Arts Festival on Mayne Island, British Columbia last year held a gala dinner using foods largely sourced from local islands. The organizers intentionally asked for local sourced food to coincide with a presentation I did on the concept of Nature Culture. The event was a sold out success but more importantly it showed that the First Day Feast concept could be expanded into a community event. I will be speaking at the festival again in April 2016.

One way to get closer to nature is to go for a walk in a green space near to where you live. Make it a regular event. After a while you will become aware of the changes in your area over the seasons. Learn the names of a few plants and animals. Once you feel comfortable on your walks, consider exploring new places eventually aiming for wilderness areas. You might join a club to build on your new confidence. In British Columbia contact BC Nature to find a club near you, and if you have young children, contact Nature Kids.











About rob butler

I am a scientist, author and naturalist with over four decades of field study of wild animals. You can read more at my web site at robbutler.ca.
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