Reviewing nature policy

Expected beginning of 2022
Nature is of vital importance and the worldwide decline in biodiversity is a cause of great concern. The Rli is exploring how, in the Netherlands, the worrying decline in the quality of the natural environment and biodiversity can be reversed in time to achieve the restoration of resilient nature.
little girl blows at a dandelion

Background and request for advice

Nature is in a poor state in the Netherlands and policy objectives for the restoration of nature and biodiversity are not being achieved. Among other threats, nature is struggling with the effects of groundwater depletion, acidification, contamination and fragmentation. The picture that is emerging is one of inadequate policy efforts. Additional factors are a failure to properly implement a coherent administrative approach and the fact that at times there are tensions in the relationship between the government and citizens.

Nature policy in the Netherlands is focused on creating a natural environment that can ‘take some knocks’. The Council distinguishes four types of objectives for nature in current policy:

1. Protecting specific species and habitats (Birds and Habitats Directives or Natura 2000 objectives);

2. Expanding and structuring protected areas (National Nature Network);

3. Improving the relationship between nature on the one hand and the economy and society on the other (nature inclusivity);

4. Sustainable use of ecosystem services (e.g., pollination of crops).

Based on the four types of nature-related objectives, this advisory report explores the need and the opportunities for taking substantial steps towards achieving greater resilience in nature, and how these steps can be expressed in an effective and coherent policy. In this process, there is a strong focus on ensuring that nature conservation policy and issues in the area of governance are firmly embedded in society.

With this advisory report, the Council wants to address the following main questions:

What changes to nature conservation policy are desirable or necessary in view of the current understanding of the importance of biodiversity, changing climate conditions, changing values in society and of the relationship between nature conservation policy and other spatial planning interests? What consequences do these have for governance in nature conservation policy?

The report will further address the following sub-questions:

  • What do we want to achieve with the policy on nature and biodiversity?
  • Is the current policy approach sufficient?
  • What solutions are there in terms of policy objectives, the approach to take and governance?


This advisory report is expected to be completed at the beginning of 2022.

Council committee

André van der Zande, Council member and committee chairperson
Karin Sluis, Council member and committee member
Yourai Mol, junior Council member and committee member

External committee members

André Jansen, landscape ecologist at Stichting Bargerveen
Ignace Schops, director of the Kempen and Maasland Regional Countryside Association (Belgium) and chairperson of the Council of Europarc Federation
Esther Turnhout, full Professor at the Forest and Nature Conservation Policy Group (Wageningen University and Research Centre)


Information or response: 

For more information about the advisory report, please contact Yvette Oostendorp, project leader: or +31 (0)6 27020642