The notion of environment comes from the Latin term ambĭens and is linked to what surrounds something or a context. Natural, meanwhile, is an adjective related to nature.
According to DigoPaul, a natural environment is the land that has not been altered by humans; that is, it is presented as it was created by nature. Since the presence of man always, in one way or another, ends up modifying the environment, the notion is often used to name a region of particular importance for its natural characteristics.
In the strictest sense of the concept, the natural environment is an uninhabited area (or, at least, not inhabited in a massive way), whose space is not organized. An example of a natural environment, in this way, is Antarctica. On this continent, located at the south pole, there are no cities: there are hardly any scientific and military bases installed. The people, therefore, did not substantially modify the landscape or the natural characteristics of the place.
It is important to note that the definition of natural environment is not strict. A beach located next to a fishing village, where there are some constructions and minimal infrastructure, can be considered as a natural environment. The idea does not imply the absolute absence of people or the absence of human works. In addition, urban development throughout the planet means that there is no totally natural place that has not received any effect from people’s actions, since the atmosphere of planet Earth has changed over time.
Two concepts that can be used as synonyms for natural environment are natural space and natural landscape. In addition to the examples presented above, we can also consider within this group certain tropical rainforests where humans do not use fire, although they do use them for food gathering and hunting purposes, and the same occurs with some mountains.
In other words, one of the determining factors to know if an environment is natural is how populated it is by human settlements: if the density is very low, or if people walk through it but do not stay in it or affect it considerably. or irreversible, then we can consider it natural. Of course, each time we get closer to the total disappearance of spaces of this type, since our species advances without mercy over every corner of the planet in search of resources.
Broadly speaking, we can say that there are two types of natural environment: the coastal one, which is very close to the sea, or even close to the water; the inland one, which is relatively far from the sea, and this includes the valley, the plain and the mountain. The opposite concept is ordered landscape, which describes spaces such as dams and cities, among many others that are the product of a strong alteration of the natural environment.
The classification of natural environment is very broad, and in it we find the parks (group in which there are national, regional and natural), reserves (both scientific and comprehensive) and monuments.
There is a list of requirements that a space must meet to be considered a natural environment:
* must represent some natural geomorphological or geological formation, some ecosystem or natural landscape;
* must play an important role in the conservation of ecosystems, guaranteeing the continuity of the evolution of the species that depend on it, as well as the balance of the environment;
* must contribute to the conservation of animal or plant communities, necessary to prevent any of its species from disappearing.