8 junio, 2024

Natural environment: characteristics, elements, importance, examples

He natural environment It is the space made up of living beings and the set of physical, chemical and biological components with which they interact and in which human action has not directly intervened.

This concept is usually equated with that of the natural environment and contrasted with that of the artificial environment, which would be one in which the hand of the human being has intervened, although there is no sharp separation between the two environments, since there is practically no ecosystem on Earth without any degree of human intervention.

This concept can also be related to that of an ecosystem, when talking about a living being and the context that surrounds it (the bear and its natural environment, for example), natural resources in general (such as water), or large ecological units (the oceans, the Amazon, etc.).

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Characteristics of the natural environment

Unless it is a global approach, when we talk about the natural environment we talk about referring to a human group, other species of living beings or a specific geographical space.

The natural environment as such is made up of organic and inorganic elements, whose overall sum and interrelation constitutes the biosphere (the area of ​​the planet that harbors life).

organic elements

They are the living beings that can be found in an environment, and that science has divided into five kingdoms: plant, animal, fungi, protista or protista, and moneras.

It is made up of plants, that is, all autotrophic beings (which can produce their own food with the help of photosynthesis), with the exception of some species belonging to the protoctist kingdom.

They are all those multicellular beings with the ability to move, that reproduce sexually, and without the ability of plants to produce food with the help of the sun.

Multicellular organisms such as mushrooms, molds and yeast.

Kingdom protistas or protista

Made up of protozoa, algae, unicellular beings of the sea and the subsoil, etc.

kingdom monera or prokaryote

It encompasses single-celled beings that do not have a defined nucleus, and that can be found on land, in water and in the air, and even within other living things. They are mainly bacteria.

inorganic elements

The main components to consider when studying a natural environment are relief, water, climate and soil. The sum of these elements determines the class of living beings that can be found in certain areas or spaces.

They are the general characteristics or accidents of a geographical space and that define it as a valley, a mountain range, a plain or a mountain.

In natural environments, the relief may be made up of more than one geographical feature.

Its presence or absence is decisive in any environment, and essential for the existence of life on our planet. On Earth it is found in all three states (solid, liquid, and gas) and in large masses, such as seas, rivers, and glaciers.

It is the result of the sum of the atmospheric conditions of a certain environment, and includes humidity (presence of water in the air), temperature, atmospheric pressure, solar radiation, rain and wind.

It is the most superficial layer of the earth and where living beings thrive; It is constituted by the weathering of the superficial geological layer (the decomposition of rocks thanks to the action of water, air and living beings), combined with the decomposition of organic matter.

Importance for society of natural environments

Human beings have based a large part of their evolution and development building artificial environments such as large cities, and moving further and further away from the natural environment, subjected in turn to different degrees of pressure and deterioration.

These degrees of deterioration can range from the contamination of all ecosystems to the mass extinction of species and dangerous changes in the atmosphere.

This situation has created alarm since the middle of the 20th century, and has generated a series of social and political movements, known as environmentalists and ecologists.

These movements have managed to sensitize part of the population and a good number of governments around the world, around the need to preserve the natural environment and transform the most negative aspects of industrial civilization, such as the use of fossil fuels (coal , oil), or the protection of endangered species.

It should be noted that human beings, despite their large cities and their massive intervention in all the planet’s ecosystems, continue to need and love natural spaces.

This aspect is manifested in the passion with which activities such as hiking, bird watching, water sports or the need to have large green spaces within cities to improve air quality are still practiced.

Examples of Natural Environments

We cite two examples of the importance of the natural environment for human beings: national parks and actions taken to protect the ozone layer.

Example 1: Yellowstone Park

In 1872 the first national park in the world, Yellowstone National Park, was established; Since then, this legal figure to protect large ecosystems has spread to the rest of the world, with the aim of protecting large natural environments.

We mention as examples of these parks: Teide National Park (Spain), Canaima National Park (Venezuela) and Los Glaciares National Park (Argentina). These three parks were also declared World Natural Patrimony of Humanity by Unesco.

Example 2: Protection of the ozone layer

In the late 1970s, it was discovered that the ozone layer –an atmospheric layer that filters ultraviolet rays– was rapidly depleting, and even disappearing in areas of Antarctica, due to the use of chlorofluorocarbon chemical compounds ( CFC).

The disappearance of this layer could increase cancer cases and have other negative consequences, which is why several international agreements were signed in the 1980s that led to the prohibition of CFCs.

The prohibition of these chemicals has made it possible to observe the recovery of this layer, becoming one of the most emblematic examples that it is possible to reverse the environmental degradation of our planet.

References

Dalles, P. (2012). Characteristics of the natural landscape and its elements. Taken from abc.com.py.
Environment (2020), Pan-Hispanic Dictionary of Legal Spanish. Taken from dpej.rae.es.
Natural environment (2020). Taken from es.wikipedia.org.
Environment: what it is, definition, characteristics, care and posters (2020). Taken from responsabilidadsocial.net.
Classification of living beings (2020). Taken from daily.usal.es.
National Park (United States) (2020). Taken from es.wikipedia.org.

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