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K.

K5 - The importance of healthy outdoor environments for individual physical and emotional
wellbeing, and for the future of society:

Match the importance of outdoor environments (Listed A-L) for individuals and society with the
correct description.

A. Food sources
B. Scientific research
C. Biodiversity
D. Intrinsic values
E. Resource/economica
l value
F. Recreation &
adventure value
G. Education
H. Inspiration, creativity
& aesthetic reasons
I. Physical Health
benefits
J. Psychological and
mental health
benefits
K. Ecosystem stability
L. Social and cultural
significance
Answer Description
Natural environments have economic values as resources which provide for human needs. They are exploited
for their timber, plants and animals, rocks and minerals, and for their pharmaceutical and other medicinal
potentialities (e.g. eucalyptus oil, tea tree oil and kelp). They are also the source for clean water for urban areas
(i.e. as water catchments), for electricity generation (hydro or tidal), and for tourism
Maintaining the stability of the environment (including biodiversity): It is important to preserve natural
environments to ensure that interrelationships between species (such as food webs) and biodiversity are
preserved. It is also important to maintain natural environments because they are essential components in the
water cycle and the carbon cycle. For example, forested slopes are important in water catchment areas, and
vegetation cover generally prevents soil erosion. Plants also consume carbon dioxide and release oxygen which
is important for animals,
Natural environments are important places for inspiration and stimulating creativity.
Diversity of genetics and species boosts ecosystem productivity where each species, no matter how small, all
have an important role to play. For example, a larger number of plant species means a greater variety of crops.
Greater species diversity ensures natural sustainability for all life forms.
Indigenous people around the world rely on the natural environment for their spiritual, mental and physical
well-being.
Natural environments are the original source of all human foods. As some foods become scarce the
environment is further explored for alternatives (e.g. deep sea fishing has developed as other fish supplies have
become exhausted).
Natural environments have a right to exist without having to be seen as a resource for humans. Many people
are happy to know that wilderness areas and other natural environments exist without ever visiting them
because they recognise their importance for the plants and animals that are part of those environments.
Natural environments are places where learning happens. People want and need to learn about nature to
understand the world and how it works from scientific, historical, geographic and cultural perspectives. This
can happen through schools and other educational groups visiting an area, but learning can also occur through
people visiting an area either directly (for example as tourists) or indirectly (for example through watching
documentaries). The popularity of nature programs on television and of (eco)tourism in world heritage areas
and national parks indicates the high educational value of natural environments.
We still do not know everything about every species. Indeed new species, and interrelationships between
species, are being discovered all the time. The gene pool of natural environments is an important resource in
addressing diseases (both plant and animal). We need natural environments for comparison with similar but
disturbed environments to monitor the extent of the impact of the disturbances (e.g. pollution in streams, soil
erosion, species migration or extinction, salinity).
Outdoor activity in the natural environment has taken a back seat to television, video games, the computer,
and a demanding schoolwork and extracurricular schedule. Todays youth are losing the contact with the
natural environment that is potentially beneficial for their health and well-being. Our children may be the first
generation at risk of having a shorter lifespan than their parents Sedentary lifestyle and physical inactivity
have contributed greatly to the numerous health problems plaguing todays children. Chronic conditions such
as childhood obesity, asthma, attention- deficit disorder, and vitamin D deficiency have all increased over
the past few decades. These chronic conditions may lead to pulmonary, cardiovascular, and mental
health problems in adulthood, and disadvantaged children are most at risk.
Natural environments are important places for people to relax, exercise and to pursue physical and mental
challenges away from the pressures of the human settlements. They are also places for solitude and non-
destructive adventures (such as whitewater rafting, canoeing or trekking).
An inviting, green environment close to home and work encourages regular exercise in the form of walking and
cycling. Physical activity helps to reduce obesity, anxiety and depression and can improve mood and self-
esteem.