Conservation and management of species

Protected species

In the Netherlands 3392 species are listed as vulnerable or threatened. In order to protect species the Dutch government had devised the Nature Conservation Act. It expired on 1 January 2024 when the  Environment and Planning Act entered into effect.

In the National Database Flora and Fauna builders and project developers can for every location establish which rare plants or animals have been recorded. They thus can anticipate on possible impacts of their projects upon vulnerable nature and take measures at an early stage. This prevents unexpected surprises and delays during the building phase.

In the species database (in Dutch) one can find information on all plant and animal species in the Netherlands. It also indicates if a species is protected or not. Extensive information also can be found in the Dutch Species Register.

Red lists of threatened plants and animals (in Dutch) are overviews of species that have disappeared from the Netherlands or are at risk of disappearance. There are Red lists for the Netherlands of amphibians, bees, butterflies, mayflies, caddisflies, lichen, mollusks, dragonflies, mosses, fungi, flatworms, reptiles, grasshoppers & crickets, stoneflies, vascular plants, fishes, birds and mammals.  

Red lists do not have a legal status. If a species is red listed, it not automatically also is protected. For that, a species must be designated under the Nature Conservation Act (with a so called ‘general governance measure). Red lists are supportive for that. These lists also are being used to monitor if policy goals are being met. There are also European Red Lists and global Red Lists.

Furthermore, in the Nature Conservation Act are a number of prohibitions/restrictions which aim to protect wild species as much as possible. This among others entails:

  • (protected) plants may not be picked;
  • animals (protected or not) may not be killed, wounded or captured;
  • the release of animals or plants into the wild is not allowed;
  • (protected) plants or animals, and products derived of them, may not be purchased or sold.

Also the sites where animals reside are protected.

Combatting harmful alien species

An alien species is a plant, animal or micro-organism which originally is not occurring in an area. Alien species that reproduce exponentially, can be threatening to indigenous species and biodiversity. Furthermore some alien species may pose a risk to public health, economy and security. Alien species which establish in our nature and spread rapidly are called invasive alien species. These alien species can out-compete, consume or infect indigenous species, cross breed with them and alter ecosystems. Invasive alien species can thus pose a threat to the biodiversity.

In the past alien species have often been introduced deliberately, for example as biological control species in agriculture. Species can also unintendedly travel with people and thus enter new areas. They can for example travel with packaging wood or in the ballast water of ships.

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