Netherlands Country Report for The State of the World’s Biodiversity for Food and Agriculture

Published on
May 2, 2016

The country report focuses on developments in the area of Biodiversity for Food and Agriculture observed in the Netherlands in the last 10 years.

In the Netherlands, a country with approximately 67% of the total land area used for agricultural purposes, important drivers causing changes in associated biodiversity in and around production systems are the high inputs of nutrients, low groundwater tables, the use of chemical crop protection products, and changed landscape configuration. During the last 30 years, these factors have resulted in a decline of biodiversity in Dutch agricultural landscapes. however, for some of these drivers of change, the trend in the past 10 years has become more favourable for associated biodiversity, when compared with the decades before.


The most important management practices favouring the maintenance and use of biodiversity for food and agriculture in the terrestrial production systems, are Integrated Plant Nutrient Management, Integrated Pest Management, Pollination management, Landscape management and Organic agriculture. In the aquatic production systems, the main practices with a positive effect fall into the category Ecosystem approach to capture fisheries. A major gap in information and knowledge is the lack of thorough evaluation of practices intended to favour associated biodiversity.

Shift in policy

Dutch biodiversity policies in the past decade contained measures focused on species as well as measures focused on areas. The core of the species-specific legislation was formed by the Flora and fauna Act and by fisheries regulations. The core of the area-focused measures was the National Nature Network. EU policies not only supported agri-environment schemes, but also organic farming, while North Sea fisheries have almost completely been regulated by European legislation.

Currently, a shift in Dutch nature policy is taking place. There will be more attention for natural systems on a landscape scale, to increase the opportunities for the development of more robust natural areas. An important notion in this respect is ‘nature-inclusive agriculture’, which means that attention for nature forms an integral part of farm management. Considerable parts of Dutch nature policies (including responsibility for the management and further development of the National Nature Network, the Natura 2000 areas and the agri-environment schemes) have been transferred to provincial authorities, while the new agri-environment schemes are being placed in the hands of area-based collectives. At the EU-level, the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) and EU biodiversity strategy both aim at promoting the provision of environmental public goods by farmers. These policies and measures are expected to facilitate a further increase in biodiversity for food and agriculture and associated biodiversity in the Netherlands.

State of the World’s Biodiversity for Food and Agriculture

The Centre for Genetic Resources, the Netherlands (CGN) was commissioned by the Ministry of Economic Affairs to prepare The Netherlands Country Report for The State of the World’s Biodiversity for Food and Agriculture. This country report forms, together with country reports from other countries, thematic studies, reports from international organizations and inputs from other relevant stakeholders, the basis for the report on the State of the World’s Biodiversity for Food and Agriculture.