Province and NMZH stimulate temporary nature conservation

The Province of Zuid-Holland is planning to identify the most promising areas for temporary nature conservancy projects in the province in collaboration with the Zuid-Holland branch of the nature conservancy and environmental federation NMZH (Natuur en Milieufederate Zuid-Holland). Experts and other parties involved will meet on 1 September to define the selection criteria for such sites and decide how to approach leading players. Pilot projects for temporary nature conservancy sites can then be launched in the selected areas.

Many hectares of land in Zuid-Holland lie fallow pending a definitive designation. Using these areas for temporary conservation projects would allow flora and fauna to develop naturally while local residents enjoy the new natural environment. Owners of these set-aside areas need have no worries about protected species already settled on their land. Landowners can apply for exemption that will give them advance permission to remove protected species the moment a temporary project is launched. An earlier analysis by sustainable development network Innovatienetwerk revealed the existence of some 5,000 hectares of land in Zuid-Holland potentially suitable for temporary nature conservancy projects.

Decentralisation following Nature Conservation Act

The authority to grant exemption still rests at present with the Minister of Economic Affairs. When the Nature Conservation Act comes into force on 1 January 2017 that power will be handed down to the provincial authorities. Zuid-Holland will then have greater potential to conserve and strengthen biodiversity in the province.

In January 2013 the Provincial Council adopted a motion asking the Provincial Executive to draw up a proposal defining how it plans to exercise its powers of exemption for temporary nature conservancy projects as soon as that power has been decentralised. The province's 'Green' policy vision stipulates that the province will take advantage of the potential for temporary nature conservancy projects on fallow land. This policy document also states clearly that the province will further explore where and how the temporary conservation instrument can be put to use and more actively promoted among landowners and municipalities.

Meeting of experts

Zuid-Holland Province and NMZH are organising a meeting of experts for members of regional groups, landscape organisations, provincial civil servants and others on Thursday 1 September.

These experts will define the criteria for designation as a promising site for temporary conservation projects, and identify municipalities with opportunities available. The province and NMZH will also draw up their own list of sites that could be interesting for such temporary projects. The list will be accompanied by a digital opportunity map that should provide the basis for launching pilot temporary nature conservancy projects in partnership with landowners.