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Nature, landscapes and biodiversity

What is the state of biodiversity in the Netherlands?

Question and Answer | 18-06-2015
  • The Natural Capital Index (NCI) for the Dutch natural ecosystems has declined rapidly in the last hundred years from 55% in 1900 to 30% in 1950 and to 18% in 2000. This means that the abundance of the original species is -on average- 18% of the abundance in the natural state. Much nature area was lost in the first half of the century, while ecosystem quality decreased in especially the second half.

  • The NCI for agricultural ecosystems has been decreased from about 51% in 1950 to 17% in 2000. The relative species-rich extensive agricultural ecosystems around the fifties are used as a baseline.

  • Major changes in the rural landscape were due mainly to the modernization of agricultural techniques and practices. Nowadays this role has been largely taken over by the construction of new housing areas, infrastructure and business parks. This new development has led to a further deterioration of landscape quality, an example being the loss of historic patterns and cultural features in the landscape. Pollution, eutrophication, acidification, fragmentation, exploitation, land conversion, lowering ground water tables, all had a significant contribution to the loss of biodiversity of the Dutch landscapes.

  • The area of forest in the Netherlands has expanded, while most other ecosystem types continue to decline until recently. The quality of most ecosystem types is moderate to low. By improved water quality and habitat restoration projects some signals of improvement are visible in e.g. streams and rivers.

  • The impacts of acidification and nitrogen deposition on heaths and dunes can still be seen in the dominance of grasses and the growth of shrubs. Some species that cannot survive in habitats subject to eutrophication, such as the Tawny Pipit, are on the verge of disappearing from the Netherlands. Many farmland species, including various meadow birds, have reproduction problems.

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