“If you walk through the river landscape near Nijmegen, you will see what more than thirty years of nature’s evolution has produced in terms of sheer nature. An enormous number of species have come back, such as otters, sea vultures and black vultures, and creating more space for nature helps Also in periods when there is too much or too little water, because nature absorbs water like a sponge, keeping it in the area for a longer period.
“Despite this proven added value, nature is still not an obvious ally in current government policy,” explains Bas Rolls of WWF-New Delhi. “There are now great opportunities to restore nature in our river area. In this way we protect the Netherlands from the consequences of climate change, with which future generations will certainly have to deal.”
People yearn for more nature
Marjon Kaper, People and Community Director at ANWB, also sees great opportunities for recreation when the floodplains turn green again: “This is very important for all Dutch people who long for more nature in the region. This is possible if we want” and for the sake of water safety, it really must Fix all the dams and barriers, so let’s do it right the first time.”
Make the rivers alive again
Since the launch of the first “Living Rivers” plan in 1992, nearly 23,000 hectares of riverine nature have been added, in addition to the 5,000 hectares that previously existed. This size is similar to the size of the municipality of Amsterdam. This brings the total to about 28,000 hectares of nature out of the 68,000 hectares of total area existing between the Maas, Rhine, Waal, Issel and Beisbuch dams.
According to the authors of the statement, there is enough room for more nature along our rivers, but the current space given to nature and people in the river region is very limited. The statement lists how rivers in the Netherlands can be revived and what provinces, water boards and municipalities can do themselves. After all, it is their backyard. The coalition calls on them to act quickly on the recommendations.
text: WWF Netherlands
Photos: Carsten Reiners, ARK Rewilding Nederland (main image: Recreational River Bridge, Nijmegen); Peter Veldt, Bureau Stroming & ARK Rewilding, Netherlands
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