What is Nature Intelligence

Nature Intelligence, or NQ, is a multidimensional concept comprising human qualities to connect to nature

in a cognitive, emotional and spiritual manner, and to actively use these qualities to support both one’s mental and social health and well-being as well as the well-being of nature and the planet.

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Graphically, NQ is represented by a flower with four petals, each of them comprising three nature-based competencies.

Project outputs

We developed theoretical and practical foundations for youth workers, schools, and adult educators willing to work with Nature Intelligence. All our outputs are accessible free of charge and are based on research and youth work practice.

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We created a 36-item self-test for young people to make a unique Nature Intelligence profile. A free pen & paper version will be available in several languages

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We developed a residential and online training course for all of you who want to do-it-yourself and learn how to promote Nature Intelligence in youth work

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New section coming soon: training courses online for youth workers and adult educators.

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What are the four dimensions of NQ?

Nature Intelligence (NQ) fits within a broader view of intelligence as a multiple set of abilities that are partly inherited and partly acquired. As such, NQ can be effectively influenced by educational programs, habits and context.

Within this broader view, NQ can be seen as a multidimensional concept that combines nature-based competencies in four domains: cognition, emotion, spirit and action.


taps into the intuitive and experiential competencies of environmental knowledge, attitudes and behaviours.:

  • Literacy: an intuitive understanding of the dimensions, elements, patterns and processes of nature
  • Curiosity: an interest in nature and awareness of the intrinsic value of nature
  • Outdoor skills: having practical knowledge and basic skills for staying outdoors and living in nature

reflects competencies to affectively connect to nature through direct embodied experience and having an open mind to the pleasant as well as the challenging and more uneasy side of nature:

  • Connectedness: identifying oneself as part of nature, caring for other living beings, living in harmony and balance with nature
  • Embodiment: a direct connection with nature through physical contact, which also implies resilience against more adverse conditions in nature, such as bad weather or dirt
  • Open-mindedness: enjoying all aspects of nature, even the things that might be scary or disgusting

refers to competencies to connect to nature in a spiritual manner, based on the realisation that the natural world that surrounds us is alive and intelligent, just as humans are:

  • Transcendence: a ‘flow experience’ (also known as ‘magical moments’ or ‘peak experiences’) during which one feels lifted beyond the hustle and bustle of daily life and connected to something bigger
  • Mindfulness: having a mindful sensory experience of nature
  • Authenticity: the capacity to be true to oneself, to be an authentic person guided by one’s own inner principles, as a precondition for, and outcome of, spiritual experiences with nature

includes competencies to use one’s cognitive, emotional and spiritual connection to nature for regulating one’s own health and the planet’s health, as well as for socializing with peers:

  • Health: recognising and using the relaxing and empowering capacities of nature for self-regulation and health
  • Engagement: being motivated and capable to engage in actions that make the planet greener and more sustainable
  • Socialization: choosing nature as a place to spend time with friends and using a shared interest for nature to strengthen connections with peers