Legislation protecting nature in the Netherlands

Nature areas, wild animals and plants in the Netherlands are protected by the Nature Conservation Act, which took effect on 1 January 2017. The new Act replaces 3 other laws: the Nature Conservancy Act 1998, the Flora and Fauna Act and the Forestry Act.

Protecting flora and fauna

Biodiversity – having many different species of plants and animals – is important. Some species, like bats and sparrows, are vulnerable, so nature needs to be properly protected. A healthy natural environment also creates more opportunities for economic and other social activities.

Nature Conservation Act replaces 3 acts

The Nature Conservation Act replaces 3 other acts as of 1 January 2017:

  • The Nature Conservancy Act 1998. This act protected nature areas.
  • The Flora and Fauna Act. This act protected wild animals and plants.
  • The Forestry Act. This act protected forests.

Now that there is only one Act and fewer regulations, it will be easier to enforce the law.

Division of roles between provincial and central government

As of 1 January 2017 the provincial authorities set rules and regulations on nature protection in their own province. They are also responsible for environmental permits and exemptions.

Central government remains responsible for the policy on major water bodies and international nature policy.

Applying for environmental permits and exemptions

Businesses and members of the public should be able to find out quickly and easily whether an activity that could harm the environment is allowed. And under what conditions. They can submit an application for an integrated environmental permit to the municipality, which checks if it complies with the Nature Conservation Act. It’s also possible to submit applications for a permit or exemption directly to the provincial authorities.

Wildlife management plans

Wildlife management plans are used to prevent nuisance or damage by wildlife. The plans are made every year before the hunting season, listing the animal species that may be hunted, and the numbers of animals that may be killed. When the hunting season ends, the hunters have to show what animals have been hunted, so as to provide better insight.

Wildlife management plans are drawn up by the provincial authorities, together with landowners, environmental and wildlife protection organisations and hunters.

Estates (Conservation) Act

The aim of the Estates (Conservation) Act is to preserve estates. Landowners can get tax benefits to maintain their estates. In return, they have to open their estates to the public.