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Introduction to Biophilia: Reading ‘Losing Eden’ by Lucy Jones

by Michelle Boelee

December 4th, 2023 | Bio-philia

Are you familiar with the concept of biophilia? I wasn’t until some years ago, after I stumbled upon the concept while reading. In this blog post I will share with you (a re-post about) the concept biophilia and my first encounter and exploration of the concept: reading the book Losing Eden by Lucy Jones.

I wrote the text below a few years ago already, and originally posted it in an instagram post. As the content is actually better suited as a (short) blog post, I’ve decided to share it here as well, and publish it as my very first post about biophilia, to introduce the concept. 🌳♥️

My first encounter with the concept

I wasn’t (really aware of it) until last Christmas Holiday [I think Christmas of 2021?], when reading the book Losing Eden: Why our minds Need the Wild (Jones, 2020), but it just clicked immediately with such a familiar feeling as I was reading about it: it felt like some pieces of a puzzle – I didn’t know I was making – came together. Thát was that feeling what I felt and feel when I am nature, the peace it gives me. Something so familiar, something that’s so pure, simply human nature. Pure awe. Pure peace. In love. 🌿

My reading-journey

Before I dive into what it is, I want to take you on a little journey: A little awesome-books-about-this-topic journey.  A little while ago (2021), I came across this term while reading the book The Lost Language of Plants (2013) by Stephen Harrod Buhner (also still need to finish this one). Then… Ryan gave me the book Losing Eden (2020) by Lucy Jones as a gift for Christmas and I finished it within… A week? Loved it. It was such a good and interesting, and very accessible read. To me it felt like such an honest journey, in search of an answer to questions related to our relationship to nature.

What’s the book ‘Losing Eden’ about?

The excerpt: ‘Urgent and uplifting, Losing Eden is a rallying cry for a wilder way of life – for finding asylum in the soil and joy in the trees – that might just help us to save the living planet, as well as ourselves‘ [copied from bookflap].Lucy Jones dives deep into research on this topic and mixes it with stories and observations, which was really refreshing to me. She ‘takes us to the cutting edge of human biology, neuroscience and Psychology, and discovers new ways of understanding our increasingly dysfunctional relationship with the Earth’. It focuses on Why our minds need the wild 🧠

And there it began: how one book led to another

And as soon as I checked the original source in which and the author who coined the hypothesis and concept Biophilia, I had to get this book too. So, because of the book Losing Eden, I also bought the book Biophilia (1986) by Edward O. Wilson. I’ve always had an interest in plants, but this was the very first time I felt I could connect my interest in Psychology to nature. And this led to exploring and learning more about other related topics, such as Permaculture, trees, recognising and knowing the uses of common Dutch plants and Medicinal Plants in general, etc. But of all the recent books (2021) I’ve opened on this topic, I think Losing Eden impressed me most. If you decide to read it any time soon, please let me know what you think ⚡

So, what is biophilia?

To quote Lucy Jones:
‘The biophilia concept is Wilson’s notion that humans have an innate and emotional affiliation to life, life-like processes and other living organisms. Our tendency to be drawn towards living things – from asking our parents a pet hamster to leaving flowers on the grave of a loved one – is, according to Wilson, the expression of a biological need with a genetic basis. Humans depend on nature for more than good, he argues. We have an evolutionair need to connect with the natural world for cognitive, mental, emotional and spiritual development, growth, meaning and fulfillment. Without contact with the natural world, we become impoverished.’

Jones (2020) remarks that it was and remains an hypothesis, but introduces some interesting evidence and arguments (written in such a way everyone understands but it doesn’t make academic-teacher-me cringe). Throughout the whole book the concept of biophilia and the merit of the hypothesis of biophilia is a recurring theme – and (obviously) closely connected to the question of why we need nature. 🌳♥️

Why we need Nature

Biophilia is explicitly being linked to mental health in the book ‘Losing Eden: Why our mind needs the Wild’, demonstrating one of the many reasons why nature (and thus taking care) is so important. A paper evaluating 50 empirical studies looked into [the merit of] biophilia [as a hypothesis] and if depletion of the natural elements have a negative effect on the human mind. Part of their conclusion was: ‘It seems likely, however, that even in individuals who do not express any appreciation for plants, the lack of nature can have negative effects.’ (Jones, 2020, p. 49). This means that even when we are not aware of the lack of nature, due to factors such as urbanisation and industrialisation, that we still miss nature in our life. Additionally, actually becoming aware of the fact that we are missing nature, and how much it could mean to us, turns out to be harder when living in a urban environment, as Jones mentions that ’there are fewer opportunities for the biophilia gene to be triggered in Modern-day Western society’. This so-called gene is supposed to be triggered by enough exposure to nature, which is a very interesting and intuitive thought and totally fits with the notion of epi-genetics: the turning on and off of certain genes through environmental influences (simply said). Food for thought. 🧠

Next book on my reading journey

I will continue my journey with another book about trees, a novel called The Overstory by Richard Powers, a fiction book in which all characters are connected through their connection to a tree or trees 📚🌳

Fast forward to 2023…

Funny thing is… I still have to finish the Overstory, but it’s definitely high on my reading list! I will have to start reading it all over again, most probably, to be able to read the remainder of the story with all details in mind. It’s quite a thick book, not suited for travelling with, which made me start reading other books. But… it’s a good book to be reading just before bed, I suppose. Which is exactly what I will start doing again – I am hereby telling myself. I am currently reading about hedges: the amazing benefits of having hedges and the tradition of hedges and hedge-laying (Rijsdijk, 2022), which will remain my morning reading. And in the meantime, my overall interest in biophilia, eco-psychology, ecology, climate change, biodiversity, plants, trees and gardening have only grown. I hope this blog post has provided you a sufficient introduction to the concept of biophilia, with some reading tips 📚

Love, Michelle



Buhner, S. H. (2013). The Lost Language of Plants: The Ecological Importance of Plant Medicines to Life on Earth. Chelsea Green Publishing Co.

Jones, L. (2020). Losing Eden: Why our Minds need the Wild. Penguin Books.

Powers, R. (2018). The overstory. W. W. Norton.

Rijsdijk, K. F. (2022). HEG: Een behaaglijk landschap voor mens en natuur. Noordboek Natuur.

Wilson, E. O. (1986). Biophilia: The Human Bond with other Species. Harvard University Press.

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