The national government (Rijksoverheid) is responsible for the conservation of e.g. the Wadden Sea and other large bodies of water, and for the transposition of international nature conservation arrangements into national policy. The provinces (sub-national entities) are responsible for implementation. The current Dutch nature conservation policy is outlined in the ‘Nederland Natuurpositief’ (the ‘Netherlands Nature-positive’) 2019 vision document, developed jointly by the Ministry of Agriculture, Nature & Food Quality (LNV) and the provinces, and emphasizes the importance of conserving nature both within and outside formally protected areas.
The ‘Nature Ambition Large Water Bodies 2050 and beyond’, focuses specifically on aquatic ecosystems. The heavy nitrogen load that burdens nature conservation in the Netherlands has recently led to a highly publicized decision of the European Court of Justice, confirmed by the country’s highest administrative court, which forced the Dutch Government to re-think its nitrogen management and nature conservation policies. This nitrogen crisis, combined with the challenges of climate change, brings a range of challenges for nature conservation, which need to be dealt with at various decision-making levels. A recent report of the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency (Planbureau voor de Leefomgeving, PBL 2020) highlighted the need for climate-robust nature conservation policy, and outlines different scenarios for the future (ranging from the business as usual to high-ambition scenarios).