Environmental Data Compendium
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Realisation of the revised National Ecological Network- land acquisition and conversion, 1990-2014

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On 1 January 2015 the area of acquired land (including change of use) for realising the National Ecological Network (NEN) had risen to almost 98,000 hectares, of which more than 75,000 hectares has been converted to nature. The Nature Pact (Natuurpact, 2013) gives responsibility for meeting the objectives for land acquisition and conversion to the provinces. Provinces make a vigorous start with land conversion since the review of the NEN

The area of new nature has gradually increased since 1990. In 2014 2,282 ha of land were acquired (including change of use, or private management) and more than 8,436 ha have been converted to nature (IPO 2015). The Nature Pact agreements (2013) and the review of the NEN have reduced the size of the network and new area targets have been set. The Nature Pact sets a target of converting 80,000 hectares of land to wildlife habitats. In 2011, the provinces still had to acquire or convert 40,000 ha of agricultural land to meet this target of 80,000 ha of new nature.

The land acquisition graph shows a dip in 2013 because the revision of the NEN left some acquired land outside the new boundary. The land conversion graph shows two dips, one in 2002 and the second in 2006. The 'baseline survey' project showed that some of the converted land did not yet meet the requirements of the target natural habitats and as a result these areas are no longer registered as 'converted'.

Conservation management by private landowners through change of use makes slower progress

The Nature Pact states that some of the target area for the development of the NEN is to be achieved through conservation management by private landowners. Although the specific allocation for conservation management by private landowners has been dropped in the revised nature policy, it remains as a policy instrument. On 31 December 2014 the area of land with a change of use had risen to 8,032 ha. Progress has been slower in recent years.

NEN policy increases the size of natural areas

The NEN is a network of existing natural habitats and areas of land to be converted to nature. It was introduced in the 1990 Nature Policy Plan by the then Ministry of Agriculture, Nature Management and Fisheries. The aim of the NEN is to halt the decline in the area of natural habitat and loss of biodiversity through the creation of a coherent network of protected areas. This is being achieved by increasing the size of natural areas and linking them together by acquiring land, carrying out landscape works and appropriate management of surrounding land and agricultural enclaves. Large contiguous natural areas are also favourable for improving water and environmental conditions. The provinces are responsible for the realisation of this network.


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CBS, PBL, RIVM, WUR (2016). Realisation of the revised National Ecological Network- land acquisition and conversion, 1990-2014 (indicator 1307, version 11 , 15 September 2016 ). www.environmentaldata.nl. Statistics Netherlands (CBS), The Hague; PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency, The Hague; RIVM National Institute for Public Health and the Environment, Bilthoven; and Wageningen University and Research, Wageningen.

The Environmental Data Compendium is a partnership of CBS, PBL, RIVM and WUR.