The word nature is a polysemic term (that is to say that it has several meanings): it can signify the composition and the matter of a thing (what it is, its essence), the origin and the becoming of a thing, the whole of reality independent of human culture, or the set of natural systems and phenomena

In the common sense, nature can include:

  • the biophysical environment, the habitat and the so-called natural (terrestrial), aquatic or marine environments; preserved (highly natural) and degraded;
  • wild landscapes, landscaped and altered landscapes;
  • the physical, geological, tectonic, meteorological, biological “forces” and principles, the evolution which constitute the universe and those which animate the ecosystems and the biosphere on Earth;
  • environments (water, air, soil, sea, mineral world);
  • the groups of species, the individuals and the worlds that shelter them: plant (forests, etc.), animal, including the human species and the human environment and other trophic levels including the fungal, bacterial and microbial;
  • certain episodic phenomena of nature (crises, glaciation cycles / global warming, geological cycles, silvigenetic cycle, fires of non-human origin, etc.).

Faced with the acknowledgment of the negative repercussions of human activities on the biophysical environment and the accelerated loss of naturalness and biodiversity in recent decades, the protection of nature and natural environments, the safeguarding of habitats and species, the the place of sustainable and reasonable development and environmental education have become demands for a large part of the citizens of most industrialized countries.

The principles of environmental ethics, new laws and environmental protection charters found the development of a human cultural ideology in relation to the biosphere.

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