Organisation - April 19, 2011

Berendse to meet Bleker

Professor Frank Berendse (Nature Management and Plant Ecology) has received a personal invitation to explain to Agriculture Secretary Henk Bleker why he is opposed to the new nature policy. The invitation comes in an open letter about the nature policy from Bleker to the lower house of the Dutch parliament. This is Bleker’s response to the petition sent to him by 79 professors.

Berendse is one of the initiators of the petition, in which the professors challenge the swingeing cuts being made in nature conservation. 'Bleker does not reject it out of hand', says Berendse. But he goes on to indicate that there is a yawning gulf between their ideas about nature management. 'The state secretary does not think funding nature policy is primarily the task of government. He thinks both the management and the financial responsibility should be placed in the hands of private parties. And I fundamentally disagree on that point.'
No money from Brussels
Bleker expects too much of nature management by farmers, says Berendse. 'The restoration of nature through agricultural management has not happened up to now. In spite of the investment of tens of millions of euros. That is because measures that are needed to protect nature are very hard to apply as part of running a farming business.' Nor does Berendse think that an extra injection of funding from the European farming policy could save nature. 'There will not be hundreds of millions from Brussels.'
'I also think that in the future the question for the average farmer will be whether nature conservation measures can be fitted into the business operations in a profitable way', adds Berendse. 'I am pessimistic about that. I think it is a dead end. And I shall tell Bleker that.'

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