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Good Info‘People should be a part of nature, not apart from nature’ –...

‘People should be a part of nature, not apart from nature’ – campaigners – Positive News

A campaign is afoot to include humans in UK dictionary definitions of the word ‘nature’. Change the definition, change our connection – they say

The Collins Concise dictionary definition of ‘nature’ reads like a relic from bygone times: ‘Plant and animal life, as distinct from man.’

Collins is far from alone, and – blatant sexism aside – a growing body of activists say definitions like this one ignore the frequently damaging impact of humankind on the wider planetary ecosystem.

Now they’re aiming to redress the balance with the #WeAreNature campaign, which calls on major UK dictionaries to change their entries for ‘nature’ to include humans.

Lawyers for Nature, a collective of lawyers, researchers and campaigners working on behalf of the natural world, has partnered with British B Corp interiors brand House of Hackney on the initiative.

“At the moment, nature does not have a voice in the decisions we take that are scientifically proven to be driving climate breakdown and destroying biodiversity,” explained campaign consultant Jessie Mond Wedd. “Our view is that we have separated ourselves from nature and see ourselves as exceptional rather than interdependent on nature, and this is a root cause of our behaviour as a species towards our natural world.”

Campaigners invited academics, creatives, activists, politicians and schoolchildren to come up with their own definitions of nature, and found that their responses overwhelmingly included humans.

‘People should be a part of nature, not apart from nature’

Take my Hand: Wistman’s Wood on Dartmoor, England, photographed by Neil Burnell

Environmentalist Ben Goldsmith asserted: “Nature is the living tapestry of all things which shines all around us.”

Writer Robert Macfarlane’s definition read: “The greatest group noun of them all; the entangled web of planetary life of which humans are inextricably part.” And naturalist Chris Packham said that nature is “the entire living world – it, them, me, you and us.”

They believe that a wider meaning of the word has the potential to influence thinking and decision-making on issues that impact nature, by recognising that humankind is also inevitably harmed by damaging actions.

We are witnessing the rising of a collective remembrance and yearning to reconnect, and this is just the beginning

Definitions were dispatched to the Oxford English Dictionary (OED), which agreed to a small concession: One wider definition of nature as ‘the whole natural world, including human beings,’ is no longer described as obsolete.

Campaigners hope their win will be a stepping-stone to the OED amending its main entry, and in an open letter they are asking other major UK dictionaries to follow suit. Members of the public are invited to add their voices to the campaign by signing a petition.

House of Hackney co-founder Frieda Gormley said: “We have forgotten our connection to the natural world; that we are part of nature and that we need nature. But within this is a story of hope. We are witnessing the rising of a collective remembrance and yearning to reconnect, and this is just the beginning.”

Main image: the Mud Maid at the The Lost Gardens of Heligan, Cornwall, by Tony Hisgett / Flickr

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