De Levende Natuur nummer 6 van 2007 (English summary)


Natura 2000: Nederlandse en Vlaamse natuur wordt Europees


DLN 2007-6

Natura 2000 management plans: ‘room to manoeuvre’ within the Dutch framework

Pelk, M.H.L., M.Th. Lammers & P.C. Schipper

The main objective of the Natura 2000 network is to safeguard biodiversity in Europe. The species and habitat types that fall under this obligation must therefore be maintained at or brought up to favourable conservation status at national level. The Dutch Government has reflected in the Natura 2000 targets document, what is required for favourable conservation status. The targets have been set both at national level and for each specific site. In the Natura 2000 management plans it is possible to determine, in consultation with interested parties and land managers, which measures will be taken in order to achieve the conservation objectives. Conservation objectives have to guide conservation and management efforts in the site, but also should leave scope for a local approach. In formulating conservation objectives at site level the balance between ‘guidance’ and ‘room to manoeuvre’ was therefore a starting point. Guidance has been given i.a. by determining core tasks and sense of urgency. In the Natura 2000 management plans the details of the conservation objectives, in terms of extent, location and timeschedules have to be worked out. In this article a possible step wise approach therefore has been elaborated.

Opportunities and risks for habitats in Dutch Natura 2000 sites

Aggenbach, C.J.S., N.P.J. de Vries, M.H.L. Pelk, M.H. Jalink & P.C. Schipper

In The Netherlands many habitats covered by the EU Habitat Directive are strongly dependent on surface water and groundwater and are connected to important environmental themes by this dependency. The process for defining habitat targets for Nature 2000 sites was supported therefore by hydro-ecological analyses of most Habitat Directive areas (113). These analyses were conducted on the local level in each of the investigated areas in order to assess the current state, perspective in case of autonomous development and hydrological potentials of habitats, the environmental bottlenecks and to define the measures to solve these bottlenecks. The study focused mainly on the environmental factors water regime, base and trophy status related to water dependent habitats and was based on available information and interviews with nature managers. Hydrological potentials for restoration of habitats were identified and were important input for further defining targets for habitats in the Nature 2000 sites. Most Habitat Directive areas encounter severe environmental bottle necks. Desiccation and acidification by drainage in- and outside these areas and eutrophication by inflow of polluted surface water or groundwater occur very often. To reach a suitable conservation status of habitats a huge effort is needed in environmental restoration combined with ecological restoration techniques. Results of the study will be useful as an input for management plans of Natura 2000 sites and linking measures for the Water Framework Directive to Natura 2000.

Dutch habitat types in European perspective

The position of the Netherlands in one of the large deltas of European river systems has resulted in a remarkable biodiversity. Nutrient poor and nutrient rich conditions, dry and wet circumstances and different soil types vary strongly within short distances. Almost one fourth (51) of all European habitat types occur in The Netherlands. In this paper the Dutch habitat types are discussed in a European perspective. Therefore, a two-step approach has been carried out. In the first step, the habitat types are interpreted in terms of phytosociological vegetation units (alliances), based on the European overview of Rodwell et al. (2002). After this, the individual alliances have been analyzed according to a set of criteria, including European distribution, European area and occurrence of (nearly) endemic plant communities (associations). For this analysis European distribution maps of all Dutch alliances were compiled. All together 34 Dutch alliances have a significant European importance, of which by far the greater part can be considered to a habitat type. Four ‘missing’ alliances however represent wet meadows of the Calthion palustris and various fringe communities.

Consequences of the European Water Framework Directive for Nature 2000 sites

Brink, F.W.B. van den & G. Verschoor

For Nature 2000 wetlands both the European Water Framework Directive as well as the European Bird- and Habitat Directives are relevant. Under these directives specific management plans, repectively a river basin management plan and nature management plans, are now being developed in the member states of the European Union. Both types of management plans shall include hydrological measures in order to reach the various ecological goals. Since the implementation processes of both directives have their own time scedule and ecological, technical and legislative demands, adjustment of hydrological measures and of the management plan processes are extremely important. In the province of Limburg, The Netherlands, the hydrological measures have been developed by means of modelling programs. In order to ensure a smooth implementation and commitment of the various stakeholders, a so-called ‘extended Habitat-test’ has been included in the implementation process in order to test the ecological consequences of the proposed hydrological measures. The first results show that the selected measures indeed will contribute to the Nature 2000 goals.

Contribution of the IJsselmeer area to the Nature 2000-network in The Netherlands

Noordhuis, R. & M. van Roomen

Lake IJsselmeer, Markermeer and the Borderlakes contain most of the fresh water volume within the Nature 2000-network in The Netherlands. The lakes are shallow and their fish, Zebra Mussels and stoneworts feed large numbers of waterbirds. Of at least ten species the lakes support more than half the population within the network, of five of them more than 75%. The stoneworts themselves constitute some of Europe’s largest stands, protected under the Habitat Directive. The lakes also support more than a third of Holland’s Great Reed Warblers and a very large part of the Spined Loach (Cobitis taenia) and European Bullhead (Cottus gobio) populations. All species concerned have been assigned maintainance goals under the European Bird and Habitat Directive. However, the ecosystems of the lakes have been subjected to strong changes in response to a combination of processes, among which a reduction of nutrient levels, ongoing redistribution of sediments following endikements and compartmentalization, and possibly climate change. These processes have caused changes in different directions in each lake and sometimes in exchange of values (decrease of mussels and benthivorous ducks in Lake Markermeer, increase in Borderlakes), and in an overall decrease of Smelt (Osmerus eperlanus) and piscivorous birds. It is argued that these changes were regime shifts rather than ongoing changes, which means that maintainance goals are realistic for some time to come. Restoration goals on the other hand would require proportionately large efforts for the same reason, although chances might lay in increased connectivity between lakes and between Lake IJsselmeer and the Wadden Sea, or in certain changes in patterns of flow in order to avert salty water from macrophyte and Zebra Mussel-rich parts of the lake. Studies are presently undertaken in order to find out to what extent more ambitious goals can be set in the near future.

Dutch Bullhead from the Habitat Directive consists of two species

Crombaghs, B.H.J.M., M. Dorenbosch, R.E.M.B. Gubbels & J. Kranenbarg

Recent taxonomic studies showed great diversity among European sculpins with a description of eight new species. Research conducted in the Netherlands in 2006 showed that the Bullhead (Cottus gobio) most likely does not occur in the Netherlands. Instead, two new sculpins have been found in the Netherlands, Cottus perifretum and Cottus rhenanus. C. perifretum is widely distributed in the Netherlands and occurs in slowly running streams and lakes, including the large rivers Rhine and Meuse and Lake IJsselmeer. Contrarily, Cottus rhenanus is very rare in the Netherlands, and at present limited to the river Geul, a fast running stream that flows into the river Meuse. In the adjacent border area in Germany and Belgium, two other tributaries of the river Meuse have been found to harbour Cottus rhenanus in their upstream habitats.

As has been described in Germany the rapid expansion of Bullhead since the mid eighties has also been observed in the Netherlands and is ascribed to Cottus perifretum. We suggest this rapid expansion may partly be attributed to improvement of water quality and the use of stones as riverbank enforcement since the 1970s. The Nature 2000 reserves now harbour two species of sculpins. In the future a careful consideration should be made whether or not weirs should be removed from streams that harbour the rare Cottus rhenanus, because there may be a possibility of aggressive invasion of Cottus perifretum into these habitats.

The Yellow-bellied toad: prospects of a fascinating Natura 2000-species

Bosman, W.W., B.H.J.M. Crombaghs & J.B.M. Thissen

The Netherlands has assessed the conservation status of the Yellow-bellied toad as bad on all four aspects, which are relevant for Natura 2000: range, population, habitat and future prospects. Because of a strong decline that started already about 1960, species protection plans are being implemented since 2000. Restoration measures have to be continued to improve the conservation status on the long run. The measures focus on quarries, as these are currently the best biotopes. The largest population lives in an active chalkstone pit. In the last few years Yellow-bellied toad larvae have been released in abandoned quarries. More introductions have to take place, because the populations are still too small. The introduction projects can only succeed if they are supported by adequate biotope management.

Nature compensation to Project Mainport development Rotterdam

Boer, T.E. den

Project Mainport development Rotterdam (PMR) aims to develop the second Maasvlakte harbour in Rotterdam. As a result there is significant negative effect on habitats and species protected under Habitat- and Birds Directive. Compensation measures are taken by creating new/extra dune habitats and by installing a sea reserve within the boundaries of the Natura 2000 area Voordelta.

How can Natura 2000 provide good management for Apium repens in Belgium and The Netherlands

Ronse, A., P. Maas & W. van Wijngaarden

Creeping marshwort (Apium repens) is a rare species listed in the European Habitat Directive in Annex II and IV. Its presence and trend in Belgium and in The Netherlands is shortly presented, as well as its ecology. This species is very sensitive to grazing or mowing as well as to the soil water management. A discussion is developed on how the optimal management can be achieved by Natura 2000, based on the experiences that the authors have had with the management of the sites with the species.

Natura 2000 in Flanders: challenges for the future

Decleer, N. Boone & D. Paelinckx

Flanders faces a considerable challenge for a proper management of its Natura 2000 network. Only 3 of the 48 habitat types of the annex 1 of the Habitat Directive and 16 of the 63 species of the annex 2, 4 and 5 are currently in a favourable conservation status. The establishment of legal conservation objectives for all the areas is expected before 2010. 38% of the Natura 2000 network still has no appropriate destination statute on the national spatial structure plans, which could help to guarantee a proper protection and management. Only 29% of the Habitat Directive areas and 18% of the Bird Directive areas are managed as nature reserves where nature is the primary function. A large part of the network is private land and in agricultural use. Possibilities for management agreements or financial arrangements through European Structure Funds are insufficiently used. More efforts are needed to increase public support for the Natura 2000 cause.

Natura 2000 in the Belgian North Sea: more than a ‘paper’ protection?

Cliquet, A. & K. Decleer

In Belgium, the designation and management of Natura 2000 sites in the marine environment belong to the competences of the federal government. The legal basis for the designation and management is the federal Law on the protection of the marine environment of 1999. A Royal Decree of 2005 designated three areas for the protection of certain birds species and two areas for the protection of certain habitat types. The protection of the sites include some limited prohibitions of certain activities, a procedure for an appropriate assessment for plans and projects, the making of a policy plan and the use of voluntary user agreements with stakeholders. Several activities however can not be restricted under the federal legislation. It is uncertain whether the conservation goals can be obtained with the rather limited set of measures that have been taken so far.

Support of LIFE-Nature aids realising Natura 2000 in The Netherlands

Raeymaekers, G. & C.Y. Weebers

LIFE-Nature cofinances projects for restoration or conservation of Natura 2000 sites. Clearly, there is a need for European financial support to protect endangered habitats and species: between 1992 and 2006 more than 3,000 LIFE-Nature project proposals were submitted. This article discusses experiences with LIFE-Nature funds in The Netherlands in the past fifteen years.
LIFE-Nature projects appear in 28 of 162 Natura 2000 sites in The Netherlands. In a further eleven Natura 2000 sites measurements are taken who are specifically aimed at the protection of species.
Most projects in The Netherlands appear in traditional wetlands; specially in peat bogs, mud flats of both the Wadden Sea and in Zeeland. Even the projects on the pleistocene sand grounds of East Netherlands have an important water-component (fenland pools). Most projects by far are aimed at taking measurements in Natura 2000 sites to reduce eutrophication, dessication, acidification and intense fragmentation.
LIFE-projects illustrate that European support acts as a catalyst to bring together partners on a local level and can offer further financing. Local governments and local stakeholders (including those other than nature organisations) come to realise Natura 2000 is of actual European importance, and cooperation is required to restore this endangered nature.

The LIFE-Nature projects in Flanders follow the most innovative trends in modern nature conservation

Herremans, J.P.

Since the LIFE programm was launched 30 LIFE-Nature projects where granted in Flanders for a total budget of 77,650,014.00 euro and an European contribution of 34,341,326.00 euro.
Along the years the successive projects illustrate the origin and the evolution of the main priorities in Nature Conservation. The main targets are still the sub-natural and the open semi-natural ecosystems and the purchase of land sections considered, by the conservationists as a major tool for the long term protection of top priority sites. Nevertheless the, for long disregarded forest ecosystems, are since some years often central objectives of the projects. The management philosophy is more and more open to the spontaneous evolution based on the natural phenomenons and the extensive grazing., Insuring an increasing social acceptance and appropriation of the protected areas and increased awareness of the layman for the natural values the access for the public to the protected areas is now always an important action of the LIFE-Nature projects.

Nature 2000 in The Netherlands and Flanders: towards a favourable conservation status?

Pelk, M.L.H., C.J.S. Aggenbach, P.C. Schipper, F.W.B. van den Brink, H.K. Schimmel-ten Kate & K. Decleer

This special issue of De Levende Natuur gives an actual overview of the different implementation strategies of the Bird- and Habitat Directives in The Netherlands and Flanders. The general idea in The Netherlands is that the targets should be practically and financially feasible. In Flanders this seems to play a less important role. An important element of the philosophy of the Dutch approach is that the extent, location and time schedules of the conservation objectives are worked out in more detail in the Natura 2000 management plans. As far as the approach in Flanders has been elaborated until now, it seems to develop also to a step-wise approach. Management plans in The Netherlands are guided by determining core tasks and ‘sense of urgencies’. Since a lot of Nature 2000 sites in The Netherlands and Flanders are (ground)water depended, special attention must be paid to the elaboration of hydrological measures. The insertion of the special protected areas (Nature 2000) into the Water Framework Directive further strengthens the necessity for improvement of the hydrological conditions of the Nature 2000 sites. However, in both countries, ambitious Natura 2000 conservation objectives face big challenges in improving environmental conditions, improving the water conditions. Further improving the coherence of the ecological network via physical planning and other instruments is still a challenge. The development of the management plans will ask for a good cooperation of various public authorities, landowners, nature conservation organizations and other stakeholders. It is concluded that the success of Nature 2000 will depend on the realization of the measures, the quality of permitting and the effects of compensation measures.