Boosting biodiversity should be an earner

Land users who contribute to the recovery of biodiversity should be suitably recompensed from now on. That is the main principle enshrined in the new Delta Plan for Biodiversity.
Roelof Kleis

Measures that increase biodiversity, such as sowing flowers on the edge of fields, should be rewarded, says the Biodiversity Delta Plan. © Lieke de Kwant

The plan, which was presented in The Hague yesterday, was drawn up by Dutch nature conservation organizations, farmers, ecologists, the Agrifirm cooperative and the Rabobank. On behalf of Dutch ecologists, WUR professor David Kleijn played a leading role in writing the plan.

Kleijn is enthusiastic about the ‘unique collaboration’ which emerged a year ago on the initiative of ecologists’ network NERN and its chair, Louise Vet (NIOO director and WUR professor). Halting the continuing impoverishment of nature requires a total change of direction, according to Kleijn. At the heart of this is the fact that measures to promote biodiversity shouldn’t cost people money but should make money.

De uiteindelijke prijs voor die herwonnen natuur komt bij de burger terecht. Daar is ‘omdenken’ voor nodig, zegt Kleijn. ‘Het systeem is nu zo dat we producten tegen een zo laag mogelijke prijs willen kopen. Daar moeten we vanaf. We zullen uiteindelijk de werkelijke prijs moeten betalen voor producten, inclusief kosten voor het behoud van de natuur.’


Ultimately, the bill for that recovered nature lands is to be paid by the consumer. And that requires a change of heart, says Kleijn. ‘The current system is that we want to buy products for the lowest possible price. We’ve got to change that attitude. In the end we shall have to pay the real price of products, including the costs of nature conservation.’

According to the Delta Plan, the monitoring of biodiversity poses a major new challenge for Dutch ecologists. Kleijn: ‘If you take certain measures, you also want to know what effect they have. And nature in the Netherlands is monitored well, but farmland is not.’ The plan also appeals to ecologists to play an active role in local area development. ‘They belong to a relatively small group of people who understand biodiversity. It’s important that they take the initiative,’ says Kleijn. ‘There are many ways of doing that. Personally, I am intensively involved in making an area of South Limburg bee-friendly.’

Set a good example

There’s a task for WUR in the Delta Plan too. It says that new roads should result, on balance, in more biodiversity. That applies to a possible ring road around the campus, says Kleijn. ‘If that road has to be made, make it so the surroundings become more biodiverse than they were. Sadly, that is not asking much. It is WUR’s duty, given its status, to set a good example in this.’

The current draft of the Delta Plan is a first step. The idea is to publish the complete plan next spring. Kleijn: ‘We are giving it publicity now to give all parties the opportunity to join in.’

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