Teaching Students About the Environment

What is an Environment?

When hearing the word ‘environment,’ most people think of rainforests, oceans, and climate change. While none of these thoughts are incorrect, the broad definition of ‘environment’ is much more comprehensive.

‘Environment’ refers to the surroundings or conditions in which a living organism (people, animals, plants) finds itself.

Why is the Environment Important?

In short, our environments keep us alive. If our ecosystems were damaged and unable to support us with healthy air, food, and water, we would struggle to survive.

Environments have a significant impact on the survival of those living within them. For example, if a domain is too hot or cold for an animal, and relocation isn’t possible, the animal wouldn’t be able to survive. This simple principle applies to people, animals, and plans.

Over time life has adapted through reproduction to survive in different environments. For example, giraffes may not have always been able to reach the leaves from the tops of trees, but as the result of a cycle of reproduction and survival, they now can. For more information on this process, look at our evolution page.

One of the critical threats to our natural environment is climate change brought about by various forms of pollution, such as burning fossil fuels. The consequences of climate change are drastic changes to our ecosystems, rendering them unable to continue supporting life.

What are Natural, Constructed, and Managed Environments?

There are many ways to categorize the different ecosystems and environments, breaking these larger classifications into smaller categories. However, there are three commonly described settings: natural, constructed, and managed.

Natural Environments

Natural environments refer to places that occur naturally without human interference. Some examples of natural environments include rivers, mountains, forests, and beaches. These environments’ features, such as soil, vegetation, and rocks, are also naturally developed.

Naturally occurring eco-systems also fall into this category and can be further classified as terrestrial or aquatic. Aquatic ecosystems refer to the ocean, rivers, and lakes (saltwater and freshwater), whereas terrestrial ecosystems refer to tundra, forests, grasslands, and deserts.

Constructed Environments

Constructed environments are manufactured, meaning humans create them. These environments couldn’t occur naturally and are usually built to make people’s lives easier. Some examples of constructed environments are bridges, roads, houses, schools, and train stations. These kinds of domains are usually built from constructed features, such as walkways and fences, but can also include some natural elements, such as grass and trees.

Managed Environments

Managed environments include naturally occurring features such as trees, grass, and water, but they have also been handled by humans and have features to reflect this. An example of this could be a park. It’s natural, boasting lovely stretches of grass and trees, but it may also have signs, paths, bridges, and lighting to make it more accessible to people. Other examples of managed environments include gardens and farms.

Caring for the environment

As humans, we can do different things or change in our everyday lives to help care for the environment more. Helping to care for the environment more and taking time to think about the consequences of particular actions can benefit the planet and our environment.

Here are some brilliant tips to help with caring for the environment:

  • Cut down on water usage. For example, when brushing your teeth, don’t leave the water running; only have the tap on when needed. Or try taking showers rather than baths.
  • Save on plastic by using reusable bags.
  • Try limiting the use of cars, and try walking or cycling where possible.
  • Save electricity by trying energy-saving bulbs and ensuring lights are switched off when nobody’s in the room.
  • Recycle when you can, it can save waste going to landfills.
  • Try to be sustainable with your clothes. Recycle or donate them; perhaps try and find a new item of clothing from a charity shop to save on clothes going to landfill.

Try taking some of these on board for a better, more sustainable future.

Choose your Reaction!