Dutch nature policy

Sufficient protection of distinct ecosystems is important, but it is not enough. Isolated nature areas that have no physical connection with other nature areas are vulnerable. Rare plants and animals run a greater risk of extinction in small, isolated areas. That is why the Dutch Government set out a plan to realise a national ecological network made up of large, interlinked nature areas. By 2027, the network should comprise 750,000 hectares, or roughly 18% of the Netherlands’ area. In addition, more than six million hectares of protected waterscape will be realised: lakes, rivers, sections of the Dutch North Sea and the Wadden Sea. The national ecological network will form the backbone of Dutch nature: it will enable the sustainable preservation of both common and rare plant and animal species in the Netherlands. The National Parks are, of course, part of the national ecological network. They are referred to as the ‘jewels of the national ecological network’ because of their outstanding natural value and amenities for visitors. The National Parks cover an area of 120,000 hectares, or 3% of Dutch territory.


Dutch nature policy is focussed on protection of individual ecosystems, as well as protection of nature on a larger scale. Protection of individual ecosystems is important, but small isolated natural areas are vulnerabble. For populations of fauna, this restricted area can be a problem: it is impossible to migrate to other areas, which makes the population very vulnerable and extinction is even possible. Although for most vegetation it is easier to migrate since they are not restricted to travel overland, the confined area can still be a problem.


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Natura 2000

Most of the National Parks are part of the European network of nature areas, Natura 2000. All the Member States contribute to this pan-European ecological network, which aims to protect and promote the development of species and ecosystems of Community interest. For example, the root vole which lives only in the Netherlands. The Natura 2000 network ensures the survival of specific species and habitats as laid down in the European Birds and Habitats Directives. This network is part of the Pan European Ecological Network (PEEN) of the Council of Europe.


National funding

The Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality is bound by international agreements on National Parks to ensure the functioning of the Dutch system of National Parks as a whole. The Minister grants annual subsidies to the parks to implement their year plans, as based on the ten-year management and development plans. The Ministry may also give one-off support to activities that enhance the quality of the National Parks system.