The sounds of nature

A loon swimming in Samuel de Champlain Provincial Park in Ontario. All photos by Yose Cormier.


By Yose Cormier of #NatureForAll

There’s something enchanting, liberating and calming about listening to the sounds of nature. For me personally, just hearing the longing cry of a loon, alone on a lake, sends chills down my spine.

We know that connecting with nature offers many health benefits, from releasing stress to improved mental and physical health. But more and more, we are realizing that simply listening to the sounds of nature can also have similar benefits.

There’s also a growing realization that recording nature’s sounds is an important component of nature conservation. It’s a way for scientists, conservationists, and biologists to track how ecosystems change. By recording sounds in protected areas, and making them available to everyone, part of the aim is to increase awareness and promote conservation to broader audiences. It’s also a way to ensure nature and public lands are accessible to more people.

In a growing urban global community, and one still dealing with the effects of COVID-19 and the physical distancing and isolation it has engendered, getting out into parks and nature is challenging for many. One way to stay connected can be by listening to nature sounds.

The IUCN’s World Commission on Protected Areas celebrates its 60th anniversary this year, and with World Listening Day on July 18, it’s an opportunity to highlight some of the amazing work scientists and conservationists around the world are doing to protect and conserve nature by exploring our environment through sounds.

A loon spotted in Yellowknife, NWT.

A group comprised of the US National Park Service, Parks Canada, the IUCN World Commission on Protected Areas, the George Wright Society,

A loon spotted in Yellowknife, NWT.

#NatureForAll, and the Sound and Light Ecology Team, Colorado State University is working together to create a global collection of the sounds of protected areas which will virtually transport listeners to protected spaces worldwide via immersive acoustic recordings. They want to create an interactive map of the world on which users can click on individual protected places (National & local parks, wildlife refuges & reserves, World Heritage sites, Biosphere Reserves, community protected areas, etc.) to listen to high-quality recordings of those places’ most iconic natural and cultural sounds.

The goals are to increase understanding of the acoustical environment as a park resource, increase understanding of soundscapes as an important part of the visitor experience, and provide interpreters with tools for developing programs that will connect visitors to park soundscapes. This initiative will include natural and cultural sounds from protected areas around the world in an interactive and immersive online global map. Sounds of Your Park is an opportunity for people across the globe to virtually travel to the planet’s most protected places while listening to the vast diversity of sounds that exist there.

Anyone will be able to submit high-quality audio recordings. This call to action offers more details, or you can email for more information.

Until this site is completed, and if you can’t get out into nature and feel soothed by the sounds right now, check out the following links and explore the many sounds of nature.

  • Immerse yourself in the sounds of springs at one of Canada’s national parks.

  • Explore the sounds scientists at the U.S. National Park Service record and analyze to inform and improve management of national parks across the country

  • Visit Discovery Park Center for Global Soundscape, whose mission is to support discovery, learning, and engagement activities that lead to the preservation of Earth’s natural acoustic heritage.

  • Join researchers involved in one of the newest scientific disciplines – Soundscape Ecology – as they map the sounds of our planet with more than 6,000 recordings at Record the Earth.

  • Head to Nature Sound Map for an interactive way of exploring the natural sounds of our planet. This project combines high-quality field recordings with the latest satellite imagery to bring together some of nature’s most beautiful, interesting, and inspiring sounds.

  • Explore the world’s oldest primary equatorial rainforests through Fragments of Extinction, is collecting three-dimensional sound portraits in order to study, understand, experience, and hopefully conserve and protect them.


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