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The Conservation Society: Harbinger of the 1970s Environment Movement in the UK

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The Conservation Society was the first environmental society in the UK. It was founded in 1966 in response to the then widely perceived global threat of over-population. It was an uneasy coalition between political radicals wanting wider public access to birth control and traditional conservationists, like Lady Eve Balfour of the Soil Association. By the early 1970s, under the Directorship of John Davoll, it moved away from population concerns to articulate an 'environmental' message based on an integrated view of population, resources and technology (strongly influenced by Paul Ehrlich). Despite its initial success it went into a slow decline from 1973. It was at heart a conservative and traditional organisation and it could not compete with the more dynamic and youthful Friends of the Earth. Its inability to adapt to a changing culture was its downfall, but its intellectual message was the foundation for 1970s environmentalism.

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Keywords: 1960s; Conservation Society; Eve Balfour; John Davoll; over-population

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: November 1, 2001

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  • Environment and History is an interdisciplinary journal which aims to bring scholars in the humanities and biological sciences closer together, with the deliberate intention of constructing long and well-founded perspectives on present day environmental problems.

    Environment and History has a Journal Impact Factor (2019) of 0.698. 5 Year Impact Factor: 0.806.
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