Minister van der Waal’s speech at the closing conference of the LIFE IP Delta Nature | Speech

speech | 2022-09-09

Speech by Minister van der Waal (Nature and Nitrogen) during the recent LIFE IP Delta Nature conference on Wednesday 7 September 2022 at Groeneveld Castle in Baarn.

ladies and gentlemen,

After nearly 6 years of LIFE IP Delta Nature, you can now “capture the net”. You often hear this expression in the home where we all spend a lot of time, the home of the office.

If we capture the net perfectly in the nature of the Dutch delta, then the result is somewhat alarming. Fish, birds and insects: they disappear there.

We are doing our best, for example with programs in the context of Natura 2000 and the Water Framework Directive, but that is not enough to restore biodiversity in big waters. The ecosystems in and around large bodies of water are still not working well enough. Shorebirds find little food there, there is no healthy ratio between small and large fish, and a selection of benthic fauna predominate.

This fits with the bigger picture of nature in our country. We have the dubious honor of being at the bottom of Europe when it comes to bringing our internationally protected nature to a favorable state.

You can say this with sadness, resignation or even shame – for me this is an incentive to be more active in restoring nature. I am pleased to also find such enthusiasm in you as partners and co-parties of the LIFE IP Deltanature.

Let’s take it back, and now take a look at nearly 6 years of LIFE IP Delta Nature. Then we first see the innovative and different way of looking at nature’s profit scheme. Don’t focus on specific species or habitats, but rather get away from the bigger picture of animals, plants, soil and water types, and all the connections and interactions between them.

We call this the Greater Great Water Ecosystem. This ecosystem is under stress due to our narrow limits to nature reserves and our current use and management of large bodies of water. Only if we make our country’s ecosystems stronger and more resilient will all of nature, including endangered species, benefit.

If you look at large bodies of water from the perspective of nature’s profit scheme, you will more clearly see what are the characteristic and promising ecosystems of the nature of the Dutch delta. By offering the Nature Profit Plan, you also learn to look somewhat like an animal.

If you sound like a shorebird, you’ll see how the perfect delta nature can be a roadside restaurant for a quick meal, or a fun place for a longer stay, to breed or hibernate. If you look like a fish, you will see how the nature of the Dutch Delta offers opportunities to become the best nursery and a beautifully decorated nursery.

A broad view also helps to look beyond the pipes, dividers, and boundaries that still often exist between people, organizations, and governments. After all, you first zoom out, look at the larger ecosystem, and make an inventory of what’s needed where there are healthy, future-proof ecosystems, and only then do you make an inventory of the people for whom organizations play a role in protecting and restoring those. Ecosystems. Then these people gathered together to head toward nature. Also this lesson for the rulere is the result of 6 years of LIFE IP Delta Nature, as we just heard from Donné Slangen.

So, driving together, it turns out to be making choices. And that in itself is nothing new, because we also made choices in the last century, certainly in the period after World War II. We chose dams, dams, canals, pumps and pumping stations. And for good reason. He made our country safer, supplied us with fresh water, increased agricultural yields and extensive shipping. Holland has become a master at the drawing board for some interests, but has also erased more and more nature reserves and natural processes.

Now we are seeing the consequences. Not only is nature in disrepair, we are struggling with drought, salinization and the loss of distinctive species and habitats, our healthy living environment is also under stress. As climate change continues, these processes are getting harder and harder.

To initiate change, we will create strong ecosystems, with lots of diversity, interconnections, and interactions between species and their habitats. This gives flexibility, which nature itself can absorb turbulence and can take a beating again.

The great thing is: There is a hardware store where the building blocks of strong and resilient nature are readily available. And these are the dynamics of the nature of the delta itself, with tides, water level changes, sand and mud, shifts in current velocities, salt and fresh water. They will help in recovery.

We Dutch have been taught for centuries to bend water and soil systems to our will, resulting in the loss of nature. Now we have to use this knowledge to let nature take its course.

And staying within the limits of what water and soil in an area can handle in everything we do. In other words, jobs follow the water and soil systems. Because he who opposes nature will eventually hinder himself.. As I said: Then you must have the courage to make brave choices.

This is why a favorable state of nature should be a starting point, right from the beginning of the policy process. So that you don’t have to repair the damage afterwards after a legal assessment. Unfortunately, we have quite a bit of experience with that in recent years. No, let’s put the cart before the cart again. Cost takes precedence over benefit.

When you make choices, you have to be very critical of nature’s economic use. It is not possible to do everything everywhere at once. In other words: if there are no more fish swimming, the fisherman can also pack up. On the other hand, it also means that once equilibrium is restored, economic opportunities will increase again.

Making choices can be a struggle, for example with environmental dilemmas. What can you do according to the rules? What should you do for the benefit of dry and wet nature? Tough tradeoffs, and there’s no time to study forever. We just need to get started. Experiment, show courage and even the audacity to make mistakes. Breaking a trend attributable in part to LIFE IP Delta Nature. Thank you very much for that.

Making choices is also a struggle with each other. This is also a lesson from LIFE IP Delta Nature. If you do not have an orderly system of government, you will get entangled in the tangle of all layers of government, nature management organizations, water boards, farmers, lawyers, vacationers, etc., etc. While we need each other very much.

ladies and gentlemen,

The network has been captured. The insights from the past six years are so valuable – we don’t want to throw them out. But it must be included in all programs that improve nature, including in rural areas. After all, our delta ecosystem is limitless.

I’m going to highlight two programs that will continue to work with this. This is the programming method for big water and LIFE IP All4B Biodiversity. I would like to offer LIFE IP Delta Nature insights to representatives of these programmes, as presented in the publications “Het Natuurprofitplan” and “Together Towards Nature”.

I am sure you will benefit from it!

Thank you.

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