Animals and people
 

Over time, people have spent more time outside over time than we have indoors, so our connection with the natural world has developed over thousands of years.  The bond between animals and people has grown steadily over time - and changed, too.

The Animal Human Bond
  
The term "animal-human bond" refers to the relationships existing between people and animals. In the UK, this tends to focus on pets - the cat, dog, rabbit, birds etc. In the US, it refers more widely to all positive animal-human relationships   
 
Harvard University entomologist Edward O. Wilson suggested that there is an instinctive and inherent bond and affinity between people and other living systems, namely plants and animals. He called this affinity biophilia. The idea is that bonding with animals & nature is a good thing for human beings.
    • Bio = life, course or way of living
    • Philias - the attractions and positive feeling that people have towards certain habitats, activities and things in their natural surroundings
Biophilia suggests that as people, we need contact with animals and nature to develop good mental health and wellbeing. It’s why we find baby animals cute, and why we fear certain species or why so many of us go "aaaah" when we see a koala up a tree or feel moved when we see a horse at full gallop.  It's why we feel at peace near waves of the sea, or enjoy walking hills or climbing mountains to be close to nature. 
 
Having an afternoon out in the countryside at the weekend or going to the park at lunch time to escape the office helps reconnect us to nature and gives us a positive feeling.  We’re in our natural surroundings.  For many of us, something inside us shifts when we get out into the countryside, the woodland, to the park, by the sea i.e. close to nature. It makes us feel good
  
Nature benefits people
  
The benefits we have enjoyed from nature have been huge.  Plants helped us find water; they provided building materials, food, medicine, clothing and more.  As people started to spend more time inside, we continued to surround ourselves with foliage.  In China, people kept houseplants from around 1,000 BC.  The Romans decorated their atriums with potted plants.  The Europeans brought back plants after their discoveries.  From the eighteenth century, plants were cultivated and kept in greenhouses, and after World War Two, the houseplant culture really took off. 
 

A psychoanalyst, C A Meier, in A Testament to the Wilderness (1985) proceeds from the fact that as people have evolved, we've developed in an environment matching their senses.  If we disturb our balance with nature, perhaps by replacing or destroying it, we will become sick.  Meier was suggesting that in effect, destroy nature and wilderness, and you will destroy yourself.  An interesting thought.

 
 

Useful Resources

  • Healthy Green at Work is an EU campaign to help us all make the most of plant power in the office. The site has some fantastic info on it e.g. which sort of plant is best & how to get started