What is it?
Many wild plants and animals need different living conditions (habitats) in different phases of their lives. They might need specific conditions for breeding, for finding food or for getting through the winter, for example. For some animals, it is also normal to leave the place where they are born, in search of new territories. Plants frequently depend on the wind or on animal activity to disperse their seeds. A lot of places support several populations of a given species, each adapted to the local conditions. That ensures that there is genetic variation within the species. If only a single, isolated population of a species survives, its genetic variation is lost. That reduces its ability to adapt to new circumstances. Our ability to breed economically valuable strains of animals and plants (for livestock farming, arable farming or decorative crop growing) also depends on being able to draw on the variation naturally present in (wild) plants or animals.
The survival of genetically healthy plant and animal species depends on sufficient availability of habitats suitable for all phases of that species' life. In the Netherlands, many nature reserves are too small to support all life phases and to ensure sufficient population mingling. Our nature reserves therefore need be connected to smaller green landscape features to form a continuous green infrastructure incorporating a variety of habitats. The existence of a green infrastructure also enables plants and animals to move as the habitats they need shift geographically under the influence of climate change.
In real life
For nature reserves to support suitable habitats, it is important that soil and water quality are protected against parching and over-fertilisation. Avoiding the fragmentation of habitats is also imperative. That can be done by, for example, creating new nature reserves for connection to the National Nature Network (NNN, previously known as the national ecological network (EHS)). In the context of area planning processes, the opportunities for increasing the amount, variety and green infrastructure integration of natural habitats can be explored whenever a landscape is being (re)designed. Measures to consider in that context include the creation and maintenance of wooded banks and hedges and more natural management of ditches and road verges. Opportunities can often be opened up by, for example, linking nature goals to water management initiatives, housing developments and infrastructural projects.
- Natura 2000 areas
- Wetland areas in the Netherlands
- Nature conservation areas - habitat protection
- Nature management of wet and moist ecosystemsm
- Dutch National Ecological Network
Protection of genetic sources:
- Biodiversity of the Netherlands, based on selected species
- Biodiversity of the Netherlands, based on the Red List
- Habitat of the hamster population (Cricetus cricetus)
- Habitat of the otter population (Lutra lutra)
- Habitat of the pine marten population (Martes martes)
- Dwarf eelgrass (Zostera noltii) - seaweed survey
- Eelgrass (Zostera marina) - seaweed survey
- Beaked tasselweed (Ruppia maritima) - seaweed survey