Of course, with the nitrogen ruling the judge forced the government to reduce nitrogen deposition and restore the sensitive Natura 2000 areas. But that’s only part of the solution to a much bigger problem. Because until recently, common species of birds, other animals and plants are also declining rapidly outside those nature reserves. The house sparrow remains on the red list if we only focus on the formal nature reserves. The same goes for kestrel and skylark. Starling and lapwing are then definitely on the next red list.
A fundamentally different approach is needed and the next cabinet will have to work on that. A solution to the biodiversity crisis requires a policy aimed at achieving an appropriate quality of nature in all parts of the Netherlands; from the forests on the Veluwe to the city center of Amsterdam and from the IJsselmeer to the fields of Northeast Groningen.
Loss of Biodiversity
If we don’t, we will continue to run after the loss of biodiversity. Vogelbescherming has worked out an approach with scientists for this that the new government can take: Basic quality Nature. This ensures that common species no longer deteriorate in landscapes where they should really flourish. ‘Basic quality’ is not a strict format that has to be rolled out across the country like a uniform sausage. For each habitat, three crucial factors are considered.
What about the quality of soil, water and air? Is the layout of the area in order? How is the area used and managed? Achieving improvement often involves many different factors. For example, drought due to rapid drainage, combined with landscape elements such as hedgerows or ditches that have been cleared and incorrect management due to verges that are mowed too early. And there are many variations on this per landscape.
Also read: Better view of endangered species
It sounds like an enormous work to make such plans, but that is manageable, a lot is already known. You may also think that it will cost an extreme amount of money. But that is manageable, especially when you consider that the implementation of the plans offers a solution for other challenges facing the Netherlands, such as combating drought, the agricultural and energy transition and the recovery of the economy. Moreover, a natural environment contributes to public health.
If we continue to do nothing, the restoration of common species of plants and animals could lead to much higher costs in the long run. The nitrogen crisis will teach us that. A problem that has been neglected for years due to the postponement of measures. By realizing Basic Quality Nature throughout our country, a healthy ecological foundation is created on which the decline of biodiversity can be stopped.
Marsh birds show that this is not daydreaming. Populations of many wetland birds have recovered in the last decade because we use water differently in our country. For example, the quality of the surface water has improved and there is room for the river; cleaner water and expansion of wetlands turned out to be possible in many places.
There is also political support for it. A widely supported motion for Basic Quality Nature was adopted in the House on 11 May and outgoing minister Carola Schouten (Agriculture, nature and food quality, ChristenUnie) has commissioned the concept to be further developed. It is now a question of not getting stuck in research, but also moving on to realisation. Unfortunately, the realization of policy too often hangs on that. The urgency is not felt enough.
A policy aimed at Basic Quality Nature not only makes our country more livable for argus butterflies and lapwings, but also for people. Simple but unfortunately disappeared daily nature experiences of, for example, the singing skylark return. The immediate living environment in the neighborhood and around the place of residence improves. It is not for nothing that 89 percent of the Dutch give in a recent study by Motivaction to wish for more nature close to home. The same research shows that many people like to think about it. Link residents’ wishes to knowledge of nature for a healthier country. We need that.