Prickly pear cactus in bloom (Photo by Sean Feagan / NCC staff)

Prickly pear cactus in bloom (Photo by Sean Feagan / NCC staff)

How to become a better friend with nature

On International Friendship Day, we can all get a little closer to nature
Common yellowthroat (Photo by Sean Feagan / NCC staff)

Common yellowthroat (Photo by Sean Feagan / NCC staff)

Nature can be an incredible friend. It is always there for you, it can teach you things and it can bring you peace when times are tough.

But for some, getting to know nature better might seem a little daunting. After all, it’s a big and complex world out there with lots to learn and consider. Here are some tips to help you deepen your relationship with nature:

A natural introduction

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When making a new friend, the first step is usually learning their name. But with millions of species of plants, animals and other organisms out there, learning names can seem tough.

Identification, meaning the process of determining the name of a species based on its physical characteristics, is central to becoming more familiar with the natural world. But where do you even start?

There are countless books, websites and other resources to help in the identification process that are just a web search away. Some of the best free resources for anyone with a smartphone are the various apps you can use when out in nature.

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Two of the best and mostly widely used apps are Merlin and iNaturalist. These free, interactive apps can help you get to know nature. Just take pictures or record audio of the organism that you would like to know more about, and the app will help identify it. Both are available on the Google Play Store and the Apple app store.

Being kind and careful

Once you’ve gotten to know nature a little bit, you can continue to enjoy and deepen your relationship with it by spending more time in nature. There are so many great outdoor activities to enjoy, and they are even more rewarding if you also pay attention to nature.

This way, you can foster your friendship with nature while doing your favourite outdoors activities, such as hiking, biking or fishing. For example, when out on a hike, try looking at what plants are in bloom and try to identify them. By being mindful of your natural environment, you can increase your appreciation and closeness to nature.

A key part of being friends with nature is practising care in your interactions with the outdoors. You would probably not want to be friends with someone who acts carelessly around you. You can be a good friend to nature by practicing Leave No Trace principles when you are outdoors and making sure that your activities are not damaging the environment you are enjoying.

Lending a helping hand

Often the most rewarding parts of a friendship is not what friends give us but what we give them.

You can do even more for nature by taking part in stewardship activities to help make nature healthier and more vibrant, such as helping with invasive species removals, area clean-ups and habitat restorations. The Nature Conservancy of Canada hosts events at its properties to give people a chance to lend a hand and make a difference for nature. Sign up for one today!

This International Day of Friendship, grow your relationship with nature, one of the best friends a person can have!

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