Alarming reports follow one another: Dutch nature is not doing well. More and more animal and plant species are becoming vulnerable and are rapidly declining. But there are also bright spots: animals that are doing well. NU.nl lists a few.
The beaver is doing well in the Netherlands. In fact, so good that we sometimes find the presence of the rodent difficult. Beavers build burrows and the animal – just like the badger – sometimes does that in places where it is not convenient for people.
Decades ago, the beaver disappeared from the Netherlands, but things have been going well since they were released in the Biesbosch in 1988. Connecting nature reserves has played an important role in this, says Ellen van Norren of the Mammal Association. “And stop chasing it too.”
The beaver likes that they are no longer hunted. Photo: Getty Images
It was more difficult for the otter to make the habitat suitable again. This species had also disappeared from the Netherlands and was reintroduced in 2002 in the Weerribben-Wieden.
“An otter needs really good water quality,” says Van Norren. “In the 1980s, a lot of water was like sewage. It had dead fish floating in it and it smelled.”
The water quality has improved enormously, although it is often not yet at the desired level. Incidentally, a quarter of the otters are killed by a car. So there is still room for improvement.
Species that have also benefited from the improved water quality are seals. Gray and common seals live in the North Sea.
They mainly benefit from the ban on non-degradable contaminants. “They store that in their fat layer and they poisoned themselves, as it were,” says Van Norren. “It’s gotten a lot better now.”
The water is cleaner and seals benefit from it. Photo: Getty Images
We’re going back to land. It also goes well with the fringe tail, a bat species. Not all bats are doing well. Windmills and cavity wall insulation often kill them.
But the fringe pie is fine. This is because forests are getting older. “We cleared old forests until the 1970s and 1980s,” says Van Norren. “But since the 1980s we have left old trees standing.”
The fringe tail therefore benefits from this, which uses burrows in the summer to stay. The wood bat is also getting better and better.
Some butterflies also benefit from the aging forests. Take, for example, the large reflection butterfly. Thirty years ago it was hardly found in the Netherlands, but now this butterfly can be found throughout the country.
“You also see that forest is much more focused on variation. It is no longer a large dark mass,” explains Kars Veling of the Butterfly Foundation. “Take the Kuinderbos for example,” he says. “Staatsbosbeheer has cut open paths there. Then you see that butterfly species respond immediately.”
It is not only the large reverberation butterfly that is more common in such areas. The small kingfisher butterfly has also been successful in recent years.
The large reflection butterfly loves old woods. Photo: Dick Noordhof
Many insects suffer from the large amount of nitrogen in Dutch nature. But a butterfly species that is less affected by this is the orange tip.
“It’s a species that isn’t that rare and that people can see flying during this period,” says Veling. In the last twenty years in particular, the numbers of the orange tip have increased sharply. “It is a species that is less sensitive to nitrogen.”
Nitrogen, the orange tip has less of that than other butterflies. Photo: Kars Veling
“In the 1970s, things went very badly with birds of prey,” says Marc Scheurkogel of the Vogelbescherming. The cause was the use of the poisonous insecticide DDT.
Birds of prey ingested a lot of that through their prey and died. After it was banned, things got better with birds of prey.
Because more and more nature areas were also actively protected, the white-tailed eagle, for example, was able to return. The ‘flying door’ (because of its wingspan of more than 2 meters) has been breeding in the Oostvaardersplassen since 2006 and now flies in many more places in the country.
Like the otter and beaver, the return of the osprey is an example of what can happen when water quality improves.
Since the osprey made a nest in the Biesbosch in 2016, the bird of prey has been breeding in the Netherlands again. “You can see that protecting Natura 2000 areas means that some species are doing very well,” says Scheurkogel.
In 2016, the osprey nested in the Netherlands for the first time. Photo: Getty Images
A not so well known bird, but the cetti’s warbler is increasingly heard loud and clear from the reeds. The bird does well when winters are warmer and the question is whether we should really regard this as positive in the context of climate change.
Until a few years ago, the cetti’s warbler was not seen that much in the Netherlands, but the species has increased enormously. You can hear their cheerful singing a lot, especially in the Biesbosch.
The cetti’s singer does well when winters are warmer. Photo: Getty Images
The tree frog was doing very badly in our country. In the past – let’s say until the 1950s – the species was common. The tree frog lives in trees and shrubs and the “small-scale agricultural landscape” was very suitable for the animal, says Jelger Herder of RAVON.
“There were cattle drinking pools and hedges. But due to intensification and land consolidation, the species had almost completely been pushed back into nature reserves,” explains Herder.
Conservation projects have helped the tree frog grow in leaps and bounds over the last 25 years.
Protection works: the tree frog is much more visible again. Photo: Getty Images
When we look under water again, we see that the pike is doing quite well. Again, the cause here is improved water quality.
“The pike hunts with its big eyes on sight. It likes clear water with lots of plants,” says Herder. “Measures have made the water clearer in recent decades and the pike benefit from that.”