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Pushing the Radical Nature Development Policy Concept in the Netherlands: An Agency Perspective

Simon Verduijn, Huub Ploegmakers, Sander Meijerink and Pieter Leroy

Environmental Values 24 (2015): 55-77. doi: 10.3197/096327114X13947900182076


In the 1990s, Dutch nature policy adopted a new policy concept, ‘nature development’, whereas, until then, ‘nature preservation’ had largely dominated both the discourses and practices of nature policy-making. Nature development can be regarded as the Dutch counterpart of concepts such as ecological restoration, emerging simultaneously in other national nature policies. This paper argues that the rise of the nature development concept in the Netherlands is mainly due to the entrepreneurial strategies of a relatively small group of individuals. To study the impact of the latter’s entrepreneurial strategies on the adoption and implementation of the new concept, we first made a content analysis of nature-policy documents issued between 1977, when the concept of nature development was coined for the first time, and 2012. Next, we analysed newspaper articles covering the debate on Dutch nature policy. Third, we conducted semi-structured interviews with the key individuals involved. This article deliberately takes an agency perspective, emphasising the complementary roles that policy entrepreneurs played in the different phases of the policy change process, with concept developers, early adopters and translators, and early implementers. Their success is to be attributed to a smart combination of discursive and network strategies.


Nature development, policy entrepreneurs, policy change, discursive framing

REFERENCES to other articles in Environmental Values:

Ecological Restoration Restored.Robert L. Chapman

Ecological Restoration and Place Attachment: Emplacing Non-Places?.Martin Drenthen

Landscapes Devoid of Meaning? A Reply to Note. Martin Drenthen

Concepts of Nature as Communicative Devices: The Case of Dutch Nature Policy. Jozef Keulartz, Henny van der Windt and Jacques Swart

Does 'Restoration' Necessarily Imply the Domination of Nature?. Donna Ladkin

The Role of Views of Nature in Dutch Nature Conservation: The Case of the Creation of a Drift Sand Area in the Hoge Veluwe National Park. Esther Turnhout, Matthijs Hisschemöller and Herman Eijsackers

Ecological Restoration, Environmentalism and the Dutch Politics of 'New Nature'.Hein-Anton van der Heijden

CITATIONS in other Environmental Values articles

Editorial: The Dying Planet Index: Life, Death and Man’s Domination of Nature. Clive L. Spash

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