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Coupled Human and Natural Systems

  • By: Amy E. Hessl
  • In: Encyclopedia of Geography
  • Edited by: Barney Warf
  • Subject:General Geography, Earth & Environmental Science

Coupled human and natural systems (CHANS) are integrated systems in which human activities interact reciprocally with natural systems. As a species, humans’ most successful adaptation has been the ability to manipulate our environment to suit our needs. Though people have always interacted with their environment, the scope of interactions has expanded significantly since the Industrial Revolution, as population, technology, and resource use have increased. Though the term CHANS is new in the 21st century, elements of this approach have been part of geography since its inception. In particular, a focus on humanenvironment relations has been a major theme in geography since at least the 19th century. However, physical geographers have tended to focus on biophysical systems, and human geographers have tended to focus on social ...

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