Record biodiversity loss made worse by new accord: experts


The Netherlands tops the list when it comes to the loss of biodiversity, and that means the coalition partners should reconsider their priorities, experts have said.

A new dashboard launched earlier this week on World Biodiversity Day brings together the results of over 100 initiatives to promote biodiversity and gives an insight into whether the Netherlands is any closer to meeting European and world biodiversity goals.

The dashboard shows that the nearest European deadline of 2030 will not be met, former ecology professor Louise Vet told broadcaster NOS. “In Europe and the world the Netherlands is the champion of biodiversity loss,” she said.

The coalition accord will only make things worse, Vet said, unless the parties keep to their word that “the actual measured state of the environment will determine policy”.

The future for Dutch biodiversity is looking bleak, Wageningen biologist Arnold van Vliet said. Without action, by the turn of the current century the country will be left with just 15% of the biodiversity it once had.

Intensive agriculture, land consolidation and the use of pesticides have damaged biodiversity since the 1950s and the number of animal species has halved since 1990.

“We have seen the decline in species that were already rare but now species that have always been abundant, such as sparrows, hares and hedgehogs are being affected as well,” Sander Turnhout of said.

Vet said measures to improve biodiversity, for instance by restoring hedges and river banks, will help, and would also give farmers a source of income as well as promote the regional identity of the landscape.

“But that presupposes that the next cabinet recognises the value of landscape restoration,” she said.

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