The nature policy of the current Cabinet is causing so much concern to 79 professors that they have written an open letter to express it. During a press conference in Nieuwspoort on Friday 15 April, three of the initiators will explain the details. They are Prof. Han Olff (University of Groningen), Prof. Rien Aerts (VU University Amsterdam) and Prof. Frank Berendse (Wageningen University).
The present Cabinet attaches no value to a integrated nature policy, say the professors. Although in times of financial crisis a proportional contribution from nature management to the cuts is to be expected, the current plans go far beyond this. In addition, the political choices now being made are radically changing at least twenty years of consistent policy, and blocking future developments once the financial situation improves. The proposed cuts concern EUR 300 million of an original budget EUR 500 million, in other words sixty percent. According to the PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency, this would lead to a dramatic reduction in the quality of our nature resources and the living conditions of protected animal and plant species.
In their open letter, the 79 professors claim that the draconian cuts would mean the rapid destruction of what has been built up over many decades. This would not only mean destruction of capital, the breaking of international agreements and further loss of biodiversity, it would also mean, and perhaps above all, a deterioration in the living environment for people, for example due to the negative consequences for health, the economy and recreation. Cuts and the wrong short-term choices will lead to major problems in the long term – penny wise, pound foolish. Nature simply warrants a longer term approach than that of a single Cabinet period. To take another example, a Cabinet cannot simply decide not to maintain the dykes in the country for the next few years. After all, that would lead to irreversible changes.
The professors, as independent experts, particularly have problems with the fact that the proposed cuts and choices are not based on a well-thought-out vision on nature, that they do not have a thorough scientific basis and that there has been no careful social evaluation. They therefore advocate the development of a proper long-term vision of the fragile nature resources in our country, a vision on the quality of the living environment for plants, animals and people, a vision directed towards the future design of our country. Taking a clear and well-substantiated vision as its starting point, the Cabinet would be able to develop administrative and social support for changes in a time of limited means. Such a vision should lead to new impulses and a sustainable policy.
Preceding the debate on nature policy by the House of Representatives on 20 April, the professors are providing the building blocks for such a vision in their open letter. They will explain their vision during the press conference – to which all interested parties are invited.
Enclosure: Open letter on the current nature policy to the members of the Rutte-Verhagen Cabinet.
More information:- Prof. Han Olff
- Prof. Rien Aerts
- Prof. Frank Berendse
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