Nature areas in the Netherlands are vulnerable to the consequences of climate change. Under implementation of the current nature policy, sustainable conservation of all plant- and animal species in all areas will not be feasible. Nature policy could be more effective when aimed at increasing nature's adaptive capacity.
Climate change demands for revised nature policy
Over the last few decades the Netherlands has become warmer and wetter, with more extreme rainfall events. Climate scenarios indicate that these trends will continue, but the magnitude and rate of climate change remain uncertain. The impacts on ecosystems and biodiversity are already visible and are expected to increase. Some species will decline in number or possibly even disappear from the Netherlands; other species, though, will be able to become established. As the climate changes, biodiversity can be maintained if ecological systems have sufficient capacity to adapt to these changes.
Increase the adaptive capacity of ecosystems to make them climate-proof
The implementation of current policies will not remove the vulnerability of ecosystems and biodiversity to the consequences of climate change. The Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency (PBL), in cooperation with Wageningen University and Research Centre, has therefore developed an adaptation strategy to increase the adaptive capacity of ecosystems, and by extension to make them climate-proof. Policies should be geared more towards ecosystem functioning and increasing the adaptive capacity of ecosystems and less than at present to the conservation of specific species in specific sites. Adaptive capacity can be strengthened by increasing the size of protected areas and the connections between them (both within the Netherlands and internationally), increasing habitat and landscape heterogeneity, and improving environmental and water conditions, thereby facilitating natural processes.