Deze indeling van mens – natuur relaties komt uit mijn Ph.D. onderzoek (Zegers 2020) en bestaat uit 6 soorten relaties, van de direct zintuigelijke relatie tot de abstracte zakelijke relatie.
1. The level of the body, the senses. At this level there is continuous exposure and exchange. Its meaning is context dependent. People who go into nature sometimes experience greater awareness or a direct experience of "exchange" with a living nature present. The experience of exchange makes people realize that non-human others and nature as a whole are actors. Actors exhibit agency. Agency means being sensitive, having consciousness, making decisions according to the circumstances and the context.
2. The level of a 'call' from nature, a call. The experience of exchange does something that makes people want to take action, to do something to give expression to the experience of exchange. Often awareness at that level leads to a need to get out into nature more often (if not all the time). It can also lead to a need to protect nature. At this level, people are explorers when it comes to nature, while at the same time needing to connect with culture (their own and others) when they are back among people. This in turn is the human side of things, the conventions and the existing (economic) ways of dealing with nature. het gaat om de natuur, terwijl ze zich tegelijkertijd moeten verbinden met de cultuur (hun eigen en anderen), wanneer ze weer terug zijn onder de mensen. Dat is dan weer de menselijke kant van de dingen, de conventies en de bestaande (economische) manieren van omgaan met de natuur.
3. The cooperative level. Working in nature and with nature makes us aware that animals / nature carry meaning and have culture, as humans have. The dog and the shepherd depend on each other and work together to drive the sheep. But every dog (and every sheep or cow) is just different, as people are. That (re)recognition of the uniqueness of animals (and each individual animal) helps the shepherd to do the herding well.
4. The differentiating level. At this level we will consider more and take some distance from direct experience. Observing differences in nature, leads to noticing different animals and plants in (cultural) landscapes. This is knowing nature in human terms, classifying and archiving it. Making taxonomies and doing evolutionary biology out of curiosity about the origin of species (as humans distinguish them).
5. The management level. At this level, human culture is even more dominant, nature is understood as powerful, but human activities are focused on technology and science, seeing nature as complex, but at this level nature is there to be controlled and entirely at the service of humans. Perceived experience gives way to abstract schemes, planning, technology and manipulation to make nature "better".
6. The ownership level. This is an extension of the management level. Power over and distance from nature further abstracts conceptions of nature. Contracts and financial transactions become dominant. This is the domain of environmental economic theories, expressing the value of "nature" in terms of costs and benefits to an owner (humans) or to humanity (ecosystem services). Nature becomes part of scenario planning, and of profit and loss forecasts of the financial world.