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Netherlands - Main Details

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Status and Trends of Biodiversity


In the Netherlands, the steady dwindling of natural areas that had been ongoing since 1900 has recently halted. Among all vertebrates, plants and some major groups of invertebrates, 29% of the species are, to some extent, threatened with extinction at a national level. Threats to wildlife include the pressure of the European fisheries on the stocks, which has resulted in a marked decline in the catch of large fish.

Number and Extent of Protected Areas

About 475,000 ha (approximately 12 % of total land surface) are under the protection of the Nature Conservation Act and Natura 2000. The National Ecological Network applies to about 750,000 ha in total.

Percentage of Forest Cover

About 80% of national forests is protected through the national ecological network (NEN); about 50% of the NEN consists of forests.

National Biodiversity Strategy Action Plan

Major features of National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan

The national strategy is integrated into several national government policy papers and programmes. The main ones are:

1. Policy paper ”Nature for People, People for Nature” (2000) Important instruments in this policy paper are: Flora and Fauna Act. This Act regulates protection of plant and animal species living in the wild. It includes those aspects of the EU Habitats Directive and Wild Birds Directive dealing with species protection, and the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora; Nature Conservation Act. In addition to nature area protection regulated under the Wild Birds and Habitats Directives, the Nature Conservation Act of 1 October 2005 also regulates the conservation of wetlands and nature monuments; Active species policy. Policy is aimed at drafting and implementing of national species protection plans. Red Lists for plant and animal species under threat have been drawn up. A specific policy paper and measures for invasive alien species have also been put in place; National Ecological Network. In addition to the statutory protection of a number of nature areas, the Netherlands is also working on the National Ecological Network, a coherent network of nature areas. The National Ecological Network is intended to link up with nature areas in Germany and Belgium in the future, to strengthen the Pan-European Ecological Network (PEEN).

2. 4th National Environment Policy Paper (2001) and Environment Agenda (2006) These papers address environmental problems such as climate change, overexploitation of natural resources that effect biodiversity. They also contain goals for achieving sustainable production and consumption while preserving biodiversity.

3. Government Position Paper on Tropical Rainforests (1991) This paper describes the Dutch policies with regard to protecting, managing and exploiting the tropical rain forest in such a way that its conservation is guaranteed.

4. 4th National Policy Document on Water (1998) The main aim of the Dutch government is to develop sustainable watersystems worldwide. More detail can be found in the programme "Partners for Water”.

5. National 2010 Biodiversity Action Programme In 2007, a “national 2010 biodiversity action programme” will be published which indicates specific priorities and needs for intensification of existing policy measures in the Netherlands.

Implementation of the Convention

Measures Taken to Achieve the 2010 Target

Site protection is addressed in the revised Nature Conservation Act. Protection of the Natura 2000 areas is already in place, and the acquisition and management of the National Ecological Network will be completed by 2018. With respect to invasive alien species, 10 species management plans will be executed starting in 2006. Genetic diversity conservation is mostly addressed ex-situ for agricultural crop plants, whereas farm animal and forest genetic resources are also maintained in-situ. Plant gene bank stocks are in good condition, whereas animal gene bank stocks are still being expanded. Efforts focus on indigenous species. A project has been implemented to design effective indicators for measuring trends in the status of genetic resources at the national level. To promote the sustainable use of biodiversity, the government aims to have 10% of the total acreage under organic agriculture by 2010 and will ensure that 25% of all timber sold is derived from sustainably managed sources by 2005. Other initiatives include the planned expansion of the national area under forests by 2000 hectares per year and the recent closure of the edible cockles intensive fisheries in the Wadden Sea.

Initiatives in Protected Areas

The Dutch nature policy aims to increase the extent of natural and semi-natural areas from approximately 450,000 ha in 1990 to 750,000 ha in 2018, by implementing the National Ecological Network. Until now, an extension of approximately 66,000 ha has been realized. Within a European context, the Netherlands has committed itself to select appropriate sites for the Natura 2000 network in 2005 and for marine sites in 2008. All major coastal areas of the Wadden Sea and inland waters such as Ijsselmeer and the Dutch Delta are designated as part of the Dutch National Ecological Network and Natura 2000 sites. In terms of the Dutch Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), no sites have yet been designated. However, the selection process outside Dutch territorial waters has started and the Netherlands is preparing the designation of four marine sites within its EEZ.

Initiatives for Article 8(j)

The Netherlands supports the full involvement of indigenous people and local communities in all biodiversity-related policies as a prerequisite for conservation and sustainable management of biological diversity.

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  • United Nations
  • United Nations Environment Programme