Gezocht: katholiek met hart voor natuurschoon: De natuurbeschermingsbeweging in Nederland en het katholieke volksdeel

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The nature conservation movement and Catholicism were conspicuously detached in the Netherlands in the first half of the twentieth century. Nature conservation was apparently not an area of interest for the emerging Catholic ‘pillar’. Most conservationist groups and associations and their leaders were affiliated to the ‘neutral’ or ‘liberal’ pillar. The first half of this article provides an overview of the individual Catholic activists, conservationists, and hobby naturalists affiliated to the nature conservation movement in this early period.
After 1945, however, Catholic under-representation became an issue for the Dutch nature conservation movement. Associations such as Natuurmonumenten were influenced by new perspectives on pillarisation and democratic participation, and met local opposition to their work in predominantly Catholic regions in the Netherlands. Once the conservationists ‘discovered’ that they did not have enough Catholic members and had no influential contacts in the Catholic pillar, they tried to amend this by approaching their friends in the Catholic elite.
The Catholic political party usually opposed the goals of nature conservation in the 1950s, while left-wing politicians affiliated to the nature conservation movement defended them. The perception of an antagonistic relationship between nature conservation and Catholicism has persisted in the Netherlands since. It seems that this impression is actually based on that specific historical constellation in the Netherlands, and much less so on any fundamental incompatibility of nature conservation and Catholicism.
Original languageDutch
Pages (from-to)527-553
Number of pages27
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2022


  • Catholicism
  • Netherlands
  • Nature conservation
  • Pillarisation

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