News - May 1, 2013

Double Dutch wildlife by 2030

A group of Wageningen graduates has proposed doubling the fauna and flora in the Netherlands by 2030. On 18 April they won the competition run by the State Forest Service and the WWF and were given the prize by Princess Irene.

The idea is simple. Each municipal council is given an animal to campaign for, which serves as a mascot - Utrecht as Bat City, for instance. An action plan is then be drawn up, with simple steps to be taken. Within the municipality anyone can contribute by doing things like setting up a 'bee hotel' or a bat nesting box. Such steps benefit not just the target animal but the plants and other animals around it too.
The driving force behind the plan is the duo Stefan Sand and Christoph Janzing, who recently graduated in Forest and Nature Management. In order to galvanize as many people as possible into action, they created a website ( with an introductory film on it, among other things. 'The film communicates our message, making it clear in just one and a half minutes how it works,' says Christoph. 'In 2012 people still went out into nature, but from 2013 nature is going to move in with people.' The task of taking care of nature is still left too much to big organizations, making the concept of nature management too abstract, in Christoph's view.
Whether the plan will really be implemented is not yet certain. At present, funding is the big bottleneck. 'We are now looking for the first municipality that wants a campaign animal,' says Christoph. The group will have to set to work itself to get that funding together. 'I do this on top of my day job,' says the recently graduated Christoph. 'My job is not terribly challenging, it is just a way of earning my keep. So I have enough energy left over to carry out this project.'
Natuurdoeners was the best of 73 entries. The prize is a trip to the Danube delta to see the Rewilding Europe project. This is an innovative approach to nature management in which depopulated regions are turned into robust nature areas.