In the late nineteenth century European scientists increasingly campaigned for the protection of nature. Many of them did so by associating the natural world with explicitly national and local values. The focus of these protectors was on plants, which were literally rooted in local ground. Protection of nature, so these scientists argued, was protection of the Heimat.
Alongside national initiatives, the years 1890-1940 also witnessed the rise of an internationally-oriented nature protection movement. Through international conferences this movement started to campaign for the protection of border-crossing animals such as migratory birds, whales, and Africa's big game. The movement and the understanding of nature it constructed were strongly influenced by its social, cultural, and institutional context. The small network of people involved consisted largely of experts associated with natural history museums, zoos, and (later) nature reserves, and was strongly linked to aristocratic and diplomatic circles. Their approach to conservation was shaped by scientific ambition, a masculine hunting ethos, colonialism, and by an openly antisentimental and anti-commercial vision of the world. Today the context of conservation is very different, yet many of the old images of nature persist.