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What is Human Environmental Interactions?

If you are asking what is human-environment interaction? Hey!!! You are not alone. Often times I find myself asking what does human-environment interaction means? Well, there are many articles on this subject.

Human-Environment Interaction Definition

According to Marten 2001, He defined human-environmental interaction as the interaction between the human social system and the rest of the ecosystem.

The human social system and the ecosystem are very complex adaptive systems. This is because they both have many parts and there are many connections between these parts.

They are adaptive because they have a lot of feedback structure that enhances survival in a constantly evolving environment. 

Picture of Human-Environment Interaction

human environmental interaction

Human social system

For one to really understand and analyze the human-environmental interaction, it is very important that you are aware of the specific behaviors or characteristics of the human social system. The type of society an individual belongs to strongly influences the way they behave, their attitude, and thus their impact on the ecosystem.

Some of the important characteristics of the human social system that greatly affect the ecosystem include:

  • population size
  • social organization
  • values
  • technology
  • wealth
  • education
  • knowledge and many more

From the above-listed factors people’s values and knowledge strongly influence their “View of Life“, and as such, defines the way they act. However, the available technology limits the choice of possible actions.

People often adjust the environment to suit their own purpose and benefit from it, this is otherwise called ECOSYSTEM SERVICES.

These ecosystem services are important for human well being. For instance, the provision of resources like water, timber, food, energy, information, land for farming, and many more. Hence, using these resources, people affect their environment in ways they don’t know.

Moreso, individuals rearrange the existing ecosystems to create new ones that will be more effective in serving their needs.

The Millenium Ecosystem Assessment (MA) analyzed how Ecosystem Services and constituents of human well-being are interlinked. The MA research program started with support from the United Nations in 2001.

Millenium Assessment – Ecosystem Services

Ways people Depend on the Environment

Coevolution and Coadaptation

The unending process of change and mutual adjustment that happens between the human social systems and the environment is what is termed as coevolution and coadaptation. None the less the environment on its own influences human activities.

In this case, human social systems have to adapt to their specific environment. Example of human-environment interaction, in this case, can be seen through natural phenomena like storms, and earthquake which forces the human to respond.

Also, these natural occurrences can either be directly or not primarily as a result of human actions and in turn, influence human behavior as people respond to new situations.


The Drivers-Pressures-State-Impact-Response (DPSIR) model was first developed by the European Environment Agency(EEA), and it was used to manage and assess all kinds of environmental problems. The conceptual framework was adopted by many countries and European institutions.

This model identifies those casual links between environmental degradation and human activities. It distinguishes several categories of the indicators within the model to explain how the state of the environment changes due to human activities.

Hence the human activities generate or mitigate pressure on the environment. The major forces which initiate human activities are mainly the socio-economic and socio-cultural forces.

The following infographic explains the DPSIR process:


Human Environment Interaction in the USA and Canada

A HUMAN PERSPECTIVE The sun-baked American Southwest was a harsh environment for its early inhabitants, the ancestors of today’s Pueblo peoples. But these early settlers made good use of available resources. From the land, they took clay and stone building materials.

They built multi-room, apartment-like dwellings in cliffs. This gave protection against daytime heat, nighttime cold, and human and animal enemies. From plants and animals, the early settlers got food and clothing. They survived because they adapted to their environment.

Human environment interaction example In USA and Canada

Before humans came, North American landforms were changed only by natural forces, such as weathering and erosion. That changed when the first settlers—the ancestors of the native peoples of North America— arrived thousands of years ago.


The first inhabitants of the area of North America now known as the United States and Canada were nomads – people who move from place to place. Most archaeologists believe that they probably migrated from Asia over Beringia, a land bridge that once connected Siberia and Alaska.

These migrants moved about the land. They hunted, fished, and gathered edible wild plants. Since the water was necessary for survival, these first Americans made temporary settlements along coastlines and near rivers and streams.

They adjusted to extremes of temperature and climate. They also adapted to the region’s many natural environments, including mountains, forests, plains, and deserts.

Human Environment Interaction in Africa.

Africa is known for its unique topography (the study of the shape and features of land surfaces) and texture has, over the years influenced the human social system in so many ways we can’t even imagine.

For example oil spillage in Nigeria, where human activities have led to loosing of agricultural land to oil spillage and Desertification of the Sahel,

The Sahel which means “shore of the desert” in Arabic. You can see that the Sahel is a narrow band of dry grassland that runs east to west along the southern edge of the Sahara. People use the Sahel for farming and herding.

Since the 1960s, the desert has spread into the Sahel. This shift of the desert is called desertification. Desertification is an expansion of dry conditions into moist areas that are next to deserts. Normally, it results from nature’s long-term cycle, but human activity is speeding up the process.

Human-Environment Interaction in Europe |European Human-Environment Interaction.

European countries such as Germany, Spain, France, Switzerland, Greece, Netherland, etc have completely altered the European landscape over the course of the last 10,000 years through the cultivation of agricultural land and the extraction of resources from the environment.

This modification of Europe’s natural environment has brought both positive and negative changes. For instance, an old saying declares, “God created the world, but the Dutch created Holland.” (Holland is another name for the Netherlands.) Because the Dutch needed more land for their growing population, they reclaimed land from the sea.

At least 40 percent of the Netherlands was once under the sea. Land that is reclaimed by diking and draining is called a polder. This activity is one of the ways humans have interacted with their environment.

Here are infographics for Human environment interaction in Europe.

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