Organizations and Networks in Europe and the USA
Edited by C. S.A. (Kris) van Koppen and William T. Markham
Chapter 6: Dutch Nature Protection between Policy and Public
C.S.A. (Kris) van Koppen INTRODUCTION Measured by sheer number of supporters, civil society action for nature protection has developed amazing strength in the Netherlands, expanding from a small, rather elite group in the ﬁrst half of the twentieth century into an extensive network of organizations with a broad support base. Although its membership decreased somewhat in the early years of the twenty-ﬁrst century, the Society for the Preservation of Nature (Vereniging tot Behoud van Natuurmonumenten) still boasts a membership of nearly 900 000, more than 5 per cent of the total Dutch population, and WWF and Greenpeace have some 740 000 and 590 000 members respectively. This does not mean, however, that optimism about nature protection prevails among Dutch nature protection advocates. A recent special nature issue of a leading Dutch newspaper (Volkskrant, 9 April 2004) exempliﬁed their mixed feelings. ‘Nature is losing’, the editorial states. Despite the successful institutionalization of nature protection policy and management in the Netherlands, the gradual deterioration of nature remains hard to halt in a country so urbanized and industrialized. Moreover, this degradation does not seem to evoke as much public protest as it did in the 1970s. Other articles in the special issue point to the gap between ecologists and policy makers, on the one hand, and the public, on the other, and suggest that public concern about nature protection is declining. Against this backdrop, this chapter explores the development of nature protection in the Netherlands from its origins at the turn...
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