News - May 26, 2011


There was a time when I resolved that my columns would be apolitical. I think that tales of failures in my own love life are in fact more interesting than a layman's musings about financial policies. But sorry, I can't stand it any longer.

Whenever I think about cost-cutting measures concerning nature, my heart starts pounding faster. So I take precautions and avoid watching television in the evenings, as even a one-second dose of state secretary Bleker is equivalent to two hours of sleeplessness.
I am powerless. I observe with teary eyes the fate of the butterflies around me. What's more, the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency reports that biodiversity is constantly moving backwards. But our cabinet feels that enough expenses have been channelled so far to elite nature. According to a worldwide study, nature accounts for almost twice the global capital. KPMG places the profits of the Utrechtse Heuvelrug National Park at 3,569 euros per hectare. And yet, the cabinet still does not consider caring for nature as the government's responsibility. While trade missions require ministers, it seems that nature can be left to the private sector.
As if all these aren't distressing enough for me, I have also become a frequent visitor of Like some kind of self punishment rite, I think. Anyway, I get troubled after each visit; I have been described as criminal: 'wilderness kitsch from the environmental mafia', 'their (i.e. the environmental fundamentalists) power has to be thwarted', 'if this swamp tsunami continues a little longer, there'll be more frogs croaking than humans living in Groningen!'
Muslims have at least the good fortune that the cabinet at times keeps a little distance in between; no such luck for nature areas. In the Agrarisch Dagblad (a daily newspaper on agricultural matters), Bleker says that he wants to hand nature management back to society, as he is sure that farmers are able to bypass nature legislation. This is because - from what I can gather from his speech - nature managers are not part and parcel of communal life.
So it's pointless to get up at 4 a.m. to count birds; it's pointless to tie willow branches; it's pointless to take children on forest tours. I spend hours drawing maps in front of the computer for a meagre 3.40 euros per hour. The result: the PVV describes me as criminal, and a state secretary does not consider me a part of society. Or, to quote from the coalition agreement, 'we will literally and figuratively make an effort to solve the problems'.