Local ecological quality, 2000-2005

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Very few natural land areas in the Netherlands have a good ecological quality; 80% do not meet policy objectives.

Poor quality common in natural areas

Many natural areas in the Netherlands are of poor ecological quality. This is reflected, for example, by the number of target species of butterflies, plants and birds found in surveys, but other assessment methods paint a similar picture. According to the quality criteria of the EU Habitats Directive, two thirds of the habitats in the Netherlands have a moderate to highly unfavourable conservation status.

Large natural areas are biodiversity hotspots

High quality natural habitats are mainly found in larger areas, such as the Veluwe and a few dune areas, as well as a number of marshland and heathland areas. This is due to the greater spatial connectivity and better environmental quality in these areas, as disturbing influences are kept at a distance.

Ecological quality varies considerably between provinces

Not every province has the same number of large natural areas, and the environmental pressure also varies considerably between provinces. In addition, natural areas on sandy soil are much more sensitive to problems like overfertilisation and acidification than natural areas on clay. These factors are largely responsible for the differences in ecological quality between provinces. A clear example is the province of Noord-Brabant, with high environmental pressure due to intensive agriculture and natural areas that are mainly located on sandy soils. This combination results in a low ecological quality. The relatively high ecological quality in Flevoland, by contrast, is largely due to the favourable spatial connectivity in large natural areas such as Oostvaardersplassen, the limited environmental pressure and the relatively young clay soil.

New system provides accurate picture of current ecological quality

The Dutch government, the provincial authorities and managers of natural areas are currently working on a new system to document ecological quality in the Netherlands. The figure above gives a preliminary impression of this quality. Using this kind of information, the government can set priorities and implement tools for the effective conservation and improvement of Dutch natural areas.


Technical explanation

Naam van het gegeven
Verantwoordelijk instituut
Geografische verdeling

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Reference of this webpage

CBS, PBL, RIVM, WUR (2024). Local ecological quality, 2000-2005 (indicator 1518, version 01,

) www.clo.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.