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The gifts that we exchange relate to the natural history of the local area. Maybe you send a soil sample, a pressed flower, a drawing or photo of a nearby landscape, a handful of seeds, etc. These items all tell us something about the place that you live.
However, this gift exchange goes beyond mere exchanges of collected items and moves into the realm of exchanging knowledge. Imagine each package as a mini field trip to the place the sender lives. Imagine sitting down with this person and learning why each item is significant to both them and the local natural system.
We see examples of reciprocity throughout ecological systems. Various organisms act in a way that may cause themselves a temporary disadvantage in order to help out another organism. In theory, this is because the other organism will reciprocate this favor or provide an equally helpful favor in the future. The natural model of reciprocity, according to Madronna Holden, emphasizes the ways that the natural world gives us the gift of life, a gift on which we should reciprocate. If we are going to accept the gifts that the natural world provides and share them with others, we must also provide a gift to the natural world.
A gift exchange is already a reciprocal transaction between two participants. But how do participants give back to the area that they are collecting these gifts from? Maybe they spend an hour pulling invasive species in the area. Maybe they simply pick up trash as they are hiking. There are many ways to give back to the local landscape in exchange for a gift and these actions further connect us to our local landscape.
Natural Reciprocity is, therefore, a gift exchange not only between 2 individuals but also between those individuals and the landscapes that they live in.