“The biodiversity crisis is as big as the climate crisis”

Nature in the Netherlands is deteriorating rapidly. According to the Council for the Living Environment and Infrastructure (Rli), the biodiversity crisis is just as big as the climate crisis. Vital nature is crucial for a liveable Netherlands. People need nature for their health, for clean drinking water, for healthy food and for clean air. In the advice ‘Nature Inclusive Netherlands’ that was presented to the Minister for Nature and Nitrogen on 23 March 2022, the Council calls on the cabinet to reverse the decline in nature and ensure recovery. This will only work if the government focuses on creating nature everywhere and for everyone.

From left to right: Minister for Nature and Nitrogen, Christianne van der Wal, receives the advice from Jan Jaap de Graeff (chairman of Rli), André van der Zande (Rli councilor) and Yvette Oostendorp (project leader Rli). Photo: Marco de Swart

Provide nature of sufficient quality everywhere
The current nature policy is not effective, partly because it is mainly limited to protected nature areas. Their protection is not sufficient to reverse the decline in biodiversity. Beyond this, too, efforts must be made to restore nature and biodiversity. In and around villages and towns, much more greenery should be created, within walking or cycling distance for everyone. Nature restoration is also necessary in rural areas, where an outright clear-cutting of nature has taken place in recent decades. The Rli argues in favor of establishing a desired minimum quality level for nature in an area-oriented manner.

Make the nature approach an integral part of the renovation of the Netherlands
The Netherlands will be overhauled in the coming years due to the many major tasks, such as housing construction, the energy transition, adaptation to climate change, the nitrogen issue and making agriculture more sustainable. This major renovation in the Netherlands offers excellent opportunities to restore nature inside and outside protected areas. Many companies, organizations and municipalities are also willing to take steps towards a more nature-inclusive way of working. But it only works with a government that helps with this and is fully committed to it. The Rli advises using an area-oriented approach to link nature restoration with other social tasks in all regions, and to make agreements about this in various sectors. The climate and nitrogen funds must be used for this, among other things.

Ensure that nature is systematically taken into account in economic and political decisions
Nature is a condition of existence for man. Despite this, nature is still primarily regarded as a cost item in economic and political decision-making. As a result, the interests of nature do not count enough. There are still too many (financial) incentives that promote nature loss; nature damage and nature restoration are insufficiently valued. The Rli therefore advises to focus subsidies and fiscal measures in agriculture, industry and nature management towards a nature-inclusive society and to better value the importance of good quality nature when considering economic and political decisions.

Click here for the full advice.

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