Key topics for reaching the EU 2020 Biodiversity Target in the Netherlands
The Netherlands is one of the most densely populated countries in the world.Intensive land use for agriculture, urban development and infrastructure has led to a very unfavourable conservation status of most species and habitats. Especially, nitrogen emissions from agriculture and other sources to air, soil and water have resulted in significant low quality of habitat. Too low ground water levels for agricultural purposes have resulted in wetlands becoming ‘drylands’. Several farmland bird species have declined by more than 90% of their original population size.
Legal protection of Natura 2000 areas and several restoration measures in wetlands have improved the conservation status of some bird species and habitats, although still a lot of restoration needs to be done. The vast majority of species and habitats is still in unfavourable conservation status. A robust Green Infrastructure was under development in the Netherlands, connecting the Natura 2000-sites to each other, but the last Government reduced the goals and ambition of this Green Infrastructure dramatically. Most of the strong and robust
connections will not be developed as originally planned.
Progress for biodiversity is slowest in areas used for agriculture. Many bird species outside Natura 2000 sites, especially farmland birds, still have a very unfavourable conservation status and are continuing to decline. Organic farming shows the opportunity to effectively increase biodiversity in the wider countryside, but in the current situation this development is too marginal to result in significant improvements.