The online Oxford dictionary defines
Nature lover – A person who enjoys spending time in the countryside and observing wild animals and plants
The Urban dictionary defines
Nature lover – useless human being, who probably has made more friends with trees than humans
What makes a nature lover?
Looking up for ‘real nature lover’ quizzes on Google yielded extremely few results (2 to be exact). Going through these quizzes, it is easy to know the ‘right’ answer to get the intended result e.g. choosing whether to go to the park or going to the mall. By the online Oxford dictionary, a nature lover is simply someone who likes nature whether it is a park or the wilderness and enjoys it in his/her spare time. Anyone can proclaim that they are a nature lover with such a general definition, from environmentalist and conservationist to your average citizen that likes greenery.
In Singapore, you see greenery (to many different extents) everywhere and this might make a love for greenery is easy to cultivate. Trees and shrubs enhance the man-made environment and a break from all the concrete buildings is much appreciated. We take pride in our ‘City in a Garden’.
Furthermore, ‘nature lover’ is much like a personality type. Nature is perceived as something peaceful and calm and being a nature lover labels you with these personality traits. It is something positive that some people would want to be associated with. (nature lover is also associated with the favorite color green or blue in unprofessional online personality quizzes)
What about a real nature lover?
Being real suggests that a person is committed and has taken and currently taking actions to support nature-related causes. You have to be in an organisation of some sort, have an environmental friendly lifestyle and advocate conservation or sustainability. It is like an elite or professional class. One that has real knowledge and brings real change.
I am not a real nature lover. At least not real enough. When HDB (Housing Development Board) estates were provided with recycling bins in the common areas in August 2007, only then did my family started to recycle on a daily basis since it is much more convenient now.
Photo credit: NEA
I used to pass through the neighbourhood park to get to and back from primary school and sometimes to excercise but after that visiting the park to enjoy nature is rare. I do not visit Sungei Buloh and other nature reserves or the Singapore Zoo on a regular basis. I definitely use more electricity than I need such as using my computer instead of a walk in the park. I am not a vegetarian and have made no effort to eat less meat but I do try to cut down on food wastage. I am not a member of the Singapore Nature Society or other environmental groups but only very recently started volunteering at ACRES. I do not know the local biodiversity very well and I do not go bird-watching. I try to nudge people into being more environmentally friendly but I do not pressure them if they refuse.
But I am a (normal?) nature lover. Nature invokes in me a sense of wonder and we have much to learn from and about it. Nature is complex and beautiful and is something unique to be preserved and admired. The fact that the tree beginning to block the view from my living room window continues to grow regardless of what happens in the economic markets or the entertainment industry gives nature a kind of presence. A strong presence that I feel should not be ignored.
Richard Conniff mentioned on one of his wordpress articles about how “Wildlife is and should be useless in the same way art, music, poetry and even sports are useless.”. There are some similarities with wildlife and art and sports. Not everyone has an interest in them and some of those that do are professional artists/critics or hard-core fans much like how nature has its real nature lovers. But nature, art and sports itself is not useless, more like the love of them is useless to some if not most people. Loving nature is useless as nature cannot, in human terms, love you back. It is something you do for yourself and therefore not everyone sees a purpose to love nature. Instilling a love for nature
and brainwashing has to start from young.
Appreciating art and sport requires a certain amount of knowledge. If you are not an artist yourself, studied art, able to name famous artists and their works, you cannot really claim yourself to be an art lover.The same goes for sports where you have to know some famous sport players, regularly watch games and get in on rumours.
Photo credit: thatguyxlr
Lingo is also a large barrier to cross. In nature, you might need to know many species names and their corresponding characteristics and habitats and those who do not know much might not be considered real nature lovers.
These barriers exist naturally but we should not feel too excluded. Some might be intimidated or discouraged and see ‘nature loving’ in black and white, that you either are or are not a nature lover. Awareness and appreciation for nature is essential if we are to preserve it. Whatever environmental friendly steps you take, no matter how small, might not impact the world as a whole but it does show your care and thoughtfulness. But it would be great to continually improve your knowledge and be aware. The easiest way is through the internet and social media. You can ‘like’ a nature-related page on Facebook, follow people on Twitter or blogs or subscribe to a YouTube channel.
Nature lover is not a job but an identity and a hobby. Anyone can take it up and there really isn’t a set of rules to follow. Do not feel pressured and take up the title even if you know little about nature. There is no minimum effort or qualification required and many people are already incorporating it into their personality.As long as you are able to see the beauty in it, take the time to enjoy it and if you can, help preserve it.