Love of Nature Is In Your Genes, Research Shows

by Tina Kusal – I can’t remember a time when I didn’t love the outdoors. Splashing in the ocean, running on the beach, hiking mountains, camping under a starry sky, and biking forest trails. And as for weather, I’ll have a smile on my face rain or shine. So, when I saw that my son got just as much enjoyment from nature as I did, I’ve always said it had to be genetics. And now, according to science, I was right.

Since my son was a toddler, he would be by my side for every outdoor adventure, even if it was just a walk through a local park. His fascination with sounds and colors, followed by inquisitive questions, told me that he was a nature lover like me. Today, at thirteen, he helps pick our travel destinations and we have a joint goal to visit every National Park. Together.

In the same way that we love nature, we both love science. So, when I saw that recent research found nature-loving to be a heritable trait, I am not sure which of us geeked out more. According to a recent, large-scale study of twins at the National University of Singapore, an individual’s appreciation of nature and their tendency to seek out natural spaces can be inherited. 

The study discovered that identical twins, sharing almost 100% of their genes, were more similar with regards to their love of nature than fraternal twins. But, even fraternal twins who only share 50% of their genes, showed similarity when it came to appreciating the great outdoors. So, genetics do have a moderate influence over the experiences a person will have with nature. 

Of course, my education in science taught me that genetics and nature are only part of any personality equation. Nurture plays an equally important role. This study noted this too, and identified that people living in urban environments did not have the same access and exposure to nature, and without this, the herited nature-loving trait pretty much disappears with age.

You can pass along your nature-oriented genes to your kids or share them with your siblings, but without the opportunity to explore nature, these genes with time will lose their influence. If, on the other hand, you make nature a part of your life, those genes will be nurtured in a way that fuels your desire to seek out nature.

Given that my son shares 50% of my DNA and the same love of nature, it looks like he definitely got the nature-seeking gene from me. I’d like to think that all the outdoor adventures I shared with him as a young child, showed him the wonders nature has to offer, and sealed the deal, making him officially 100% nature-lover.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Tina Kusal grew up in England and has traveled extensively through Europe, Asia, and Australia. She works as a freelance writer, blogger, and author. She lives in Los Angeles, California with her son and is always ready for the next adventure.

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