Nature is not political

Duur Aanen, Wageningen University

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I grew up on a farm in Hoornaar in the beautiful area of the Alblasserwaard, part of the green heart of the Netherlands. From early childhood on, I was intrigued by nature. I scoured the ditches catching fish, leeches and amphibians, collected plants on the meadows creating my own wild garden and watched birds. My great inspiration was my uncle, who was a medical doctor, but also a true naturalist and who was born in the same barn. He and my father made me jealous by telling about a marginal piece of land where there still were fritillaries when they were young. They also told me about the rattles that coloured the meadows yellow in spring, but which disappeared in the 1960’s. They spoke with love about nature. Yet they were politically conservative. Nature and biodiversity were not political in those days. Nature as a “left-winged hobby” is a very recent frame. It is part of a general polarisation where certain terms have become sticked together to form the syndrome “left”, and others to form the syndrome “right”. This includes words like wolf, vegan and city as opposed to sheep, meat and country side. Let’s battle this polarisation and seek connection. Let’s get nature out of the “left-syndrome thinking”. Both left and right-winged people love nature. All political colours have a moral obligation to conserve nature. I urge all parties, and particularly the centre parties, to maintain or make nature a priority in policy making.

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