The outdoors (or natural environment) is the environment outside of human's structures; the natural environment in the open air. These outdoors areas are considered important for the survival of certain species, biodiversity, ecological studies, conservation, solitude, and recreation. Wilderness is deeply valued for cultural, spiritual, moral, and aesthetic reasons. Some nature writers believe outdoors areas are vital for the human spirit and creativity. The concept of the wilderness or wildland can be distinguished by components:

  • Ecological units that function as natural systems without massive human intervention
  • Resources and phenomena that lack clear-cut boundaries
  • natural environment on Earth that has not been significantly modified by human activity

No place on earth is unaffected by people and human culture. However, landscapes on earth can return to natural form when abandoned by culture. Humans are part of biodiversity, but exert forces on biodiversity and can destroy the natural landscape and environment. Terms such as semi-natural are used to describe the outdoors with both cultural and natural features. Humanity has altered the outdoors to such an extent that few places on earth remain pristine. Being pristine, though, is not a prerequisite for natural designation. Once abandoned by human influences, the environment can under the control of natural processes produce a new variant of the natural environment.

The outdoors may preserve historic genetic traits and that they provide habitat for wild flora and fauna that may be difficult to recreate in zoos, arboretums or laboratories. Ecological units include vegetation, microorganisms, soil, rocks, atmosphere and natural phenomena that occur within their boundaries. Resources and phenomena include air, water, and climate, as well as energy, radiation, electric charge, and magnetism, not originating from human activity. Outdoors areas can be found in preserves, estates, farms, conservation preserves, ranches, National Forests, National Parks and even in urban areas along rivers, gulches or otherwise undeveloped areas. The outdoors is contrasted with the urban environment, which comprises the areas and components that are strongly influenced by humans — in other words, the outdoors are areas that are not controllable by humans. Many ecosystems that are, or have been, inhabited or influenced by activities of people may still be considered "wild." This way of looking at the outdoors includes areas within which natural processes operate without human interference.

A natural landscape may contain either the living elements or nonliving elements or both elements. The entire array of organisms inhabiting the outdoors' ecosystem is called a community. Life interacts with every other element in their local outdoors environment. In a typical area, plants and photosynthetic organisms are the food producers, being the base of a number of food webs. Functional outdoors units consist of living things in a given area, non-living chemical and physical factors of their environment, linked together through nutrient cycle and energy flow.

"Any unit that includes all of the organisms in a given area interacting with the physical environment so that a flow of energy leads to clearly defined trophic structure, biotic diversity, and material cycles within the system is an ecosystem." — Eugene Odum, a founder of ecology1

Outdoors units

  • Terrestrial ecosystem (landform)
    • Tundra ecosystem
    • Taiga ecosystem
    • Temperate deciduous forest ecosystem
    • Grassland ecosystem
  • Aquatic ecosystem (marine and freshwater)
    • Lentic ecosystem (lake, pond or swamp)
    • Lotic ecosystem (river, stream or spring)

A natural landscape is intact when all living and nonliving elements are free to move and change. The natural outdoors landscape is a place, for extended period of time, under the control of natural forces and not controlled by people. The nonliving elements distinguish a natural landscape from wilderness, which contain life.

Outdoors landscape

  • primeval landscape
  • ancient landscape
  • undisturbed wilderness landscape
  • managed landscape (human-modified landscape)
  • humanized landscape

External articles

  • Barney, R. J., Rudolph, T., Forestry Sciences Laboratory (Missoula, Mont.), United States., & Intermountain Forest and Range Experiment Station (Ogden, Utah). (1981). PATTERN: A system for land management planning. Ogden, Utah: U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, Forest Service, Intermountain Forest and Range Experiment Station.
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