Protecting Nature
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Protecting Nature

Organizations and Networks in Europe and the USA

Edited by C. S.A. (Kris) van Koppen and William T. Markham

Providing a detailed description of all the major nature protection organizations and networks, including overviews of their current membership, activities, and as far as available, budgets, Protecting Nature will be of great interest to lecturers and postgraduate students in social science fields, as well as researchers in the fields of environmental policy, environmental NGOs, social movements, civil society, nature management and policy. Members of nature protection, environmental and other civil society organizations who seek a better understanding of the historical development of nature protection organizations and networks, as well as the strategies employed by those organizations, will also find much to interest them in this book.
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Chapter 10: The ‘Nature’ of Environmentalism: Nature Protection in the USA

Angela G. Mertig


Angela G. Mertig INTRODUCTION The US environmental movement has been one of the most successful and enduring social movements of the twentieth century. Like most other social movements, the US environmental movement has arguably fallen short of achieving many of its stated goals (Brulle 2000); however, it has succeeded in building and maintaining a substantial organizational and public support base, and it has had a documented and significant effect on the legal, political, educational and cultural milieu of the USA (Mertig et al. 2002; Bosso 2005). Like environmental movements elsewhere, US environmentalism encompasses several distinguishable yet overlapping ideologies, each with characteristic goals. These ‘frames’ or ‘discourses’ (see, for example, Snow et al. 1986) represent the ideological glue which binds various sets of organizations, activists and public supporters together. One key frame within US environmentalism is that of ‘nature protection’, more commonly known in the USA as ‘preservation’. Preservationist-oriented organizations and activists focus much, if not all, of their time on setting aside protected areas (e.g. parks, forests, wilderness areas) and protecting wildlife and their habitats from human use. From the preservationist perspective, it is vital to protect wilderness and wildlife because nature is ‘an important component in supporting both the physical and spiritual life of humans’ (Brulle 2000, p. 98). Preservationism represents one of the earliest sources of collective action on behalf of the environment in US history, and it remains a vital component of the contemporary US environmental movement. Another important frame1 relevant to nature protection has...

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