The Netherlands has made significant progress towards reaching Natura 2000 network implementation targets. In several wetland Natura 2000 sites, however, challenges remain to achieving objectives. The main problems hampering conservation and restoration of biodiversity nationally are fragmentation, groundwater depletion, eutrophication and shortage of suitable habitat. For wetland Natura 2000 sites in particular, the development of resilient natural areas is also hindered by the disappearance of tidal nature and natural connectivity as well as the decline in meandering in riverine water systems. The disappearance of natural structures facilitating biodiversity and the pressure on Natura 2000 sites from fisheries and other economic activities is also a problem.
Given the density of the country's population, conflicts arise between flood defence and the multifunctional use of public space in wetland Natura 2000 sites. Different sectoral interests are reflected in their management; responsibilities are divided between different stakeholders, each focusing on specific sectoral objectives rather than on jointly achieving all objectives. Dutch delta regions are an example of natural areas that are subject to a complex governance structure, leading to missed opportunities for achieving nature-related objectives alongside economic, water management and flood protection goals.
Seizing these opportunities is urgently needed to achieve national Natura 2000 objectives. In this respect, the Dutch Prioritised Action Framework (PAF) particularly mentions the coupling of tasks related to water safety, freshwater supply, water quality and other functions with the development of nature.
The IPE Deltanatuur project focuses on the implementation of the Dutch PAF and achieving the objectives of the EU Biodiversity Strategy by:
- Fully implementing the Birds and Habitats Directives and Natura 2000;
- Strengthening biodiversity by combining nature objectives with other functional and societal objectives; and
- Strengthening biodiversity by restoring and improving natural processes and dynamics.
This IP will develop and implement an integrated governance approach for optimal coordination of interests in wet Natura 2000 sites. The proposal focuses on removing barriers for Natura 2000 implementation in the Dutch large water areas (the Netherlands delta nature). The plan covers 82% of the total Natura 2000 surface area in the Netherlands.
Specific objectives are to:
- optimise coordination between governmental bodies and build capacity of beneficiaries;
- ensure stakeholder involvement from an early phase and cooperate with stakeholders to assess issues hampering Natura 2000 implementation and jointly develop solutions to address these issues;
- ensure alignment and create synergy between Natura 2000 development and water-related policies;
- ensure optimal knowledge exchange between stakeholders;
- develop innovative approaches to achieving Natura 2000 objectives;
- implement pilot projects/best practices demonstrating the benefits of the governance assessment model, and actively disseminate lessons learned; and
- coordinate financial resources optimally.
In addition to the IP budget itself, the project will facilitate the coordinated use of over €144million complementary funding from Interreg, (sub)national and private funds.
- A well-structured integrated governance approach for spatial interventions including better links to the nature objectives of the Dutch delta areas, broadly supported by relevant stakeholders;
- Strategic capacities built at 23 beneficiaries and stakeholders, ensuring long-term sustainability of project results and actions;
- Successful demonstration of this integrated approach in pilot projects in areas where tensions between nature, flood protection and economic interests have earlier led to a fragmented approach;
- Improved conditions for habitats and species;
- Increased synergy between Natura 2000 development and other executive programmes;
- Improved transnational cooperation;
- Capacity of beneficiaries and stakeholders increased to achieve each others objectives and the potential benefits of an integrated approach;
- Raised public awareness on the natural value of the Dutch delta areas; and
- Crucial obstacles in cooperation removed, enabling implementation of the Dutch PAF.