Well-known Dutch conservationist Eli Heimans lived 1861-1914.
A primary school teacher, he advocated that during biology lessons, children should experience living animals and plants, in their environments and in classrooms.
Together with his colleague and friend Jac. P. Thijsse, Heimans wrote many pioneering popular books on animals and plants in the Netherlands. Including the first ever Dutch flora book, accessible for non-professionals. Heimans and Thijsse co-founded the Dutch Natural History Society.
Then, Heimans and Thijsse started an organisation aiming at buying the Naardermeer to make it a nature reserve. Their conservation organisation Natuurmonumenten still owns the Naardermeer reserve today. Heimans was not elected to the executive of the new organisation Natuurmonumenten. He suspected that this, and that he did not get a job at a teacher training college, was because of an undercurrent of anti-Semitic opposition to his Jewish ancestry.
Heimans was not only interested in botany and zoology. He also wrote about geology, especially of the Dutch province Limburg. In July 1914, just before World War I started, he went to the Eiffel region in Germany, not far from Limburg. During this geological trip, Eli Heimans suddenly became ill and died.
This year, the centenary of Heimans’ death is commemorated in the Netherlands.
There is a new book about Heimans.
There is a smartphone app, guiding for a nature walk in Limburg where Heimans walked.
In the aquarium of Artis zoo in Amsterdam, the Heimans Diorama was built in 1926. This gives visitors an idea of the dunes of Texel island and the birds living there. Today, it still exists. After Panorama Mesdag in the Hague, it is the second biggest panoramic painting surviving in the Netherlands.
BirdLife’s UK Partner, the RSPB, is launching a new initiative, the RSPB Centre for Conservation Science – which includes an online science hub – dedicated to discovering solutions to 21st century conservation problems, reinforcing the BirdLife Partnership as a world leader in conservation: here.
Thijsse and Thoreau: here.