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In this text, for example, natural environment is the same as nature, right?

We all agree that ensuring water quality is a hugely important objective, above all, given the adverse effects of developing a model of accelerated industrial growth on the natural environment.

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In this context, yes, it seems ‘nature’ and ‘natural environment’ can be used interchangeably - since ‘natural environment’, here, is referring to the nature in said environment.

As you seem to have already noticed, the terms cannot always be used for the same reason. For example, ‘nature’ can be used to describe natural surroundings as well as the characteristic behaviours or tendencies of a species (including humans): i.e. ‘It is in her nature to be kind’.

  • Nature is an uncountable noun, and moreover (in this sense) almost never prefixed by an article. – TypeIA Jan 23 at 19:58

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