News - December 7, 2011

An offence to strike out nature

Across the Netherlands, people are holding silent protests against the nature policy of Henk Bleker. Wageningen can't afford to be left behind, so a group of students joined in the 'striking out nature' demonstration.

With ten other nature lovers, Kees cycled across the city last week in search of street signs with the names of plants or animals. This third year Biology student then pasted a piece of tape on top of these names, to draw attention to what we would miss should nature disappear.
In this way, the 'raaf' (raven) left Dijkgraaf; the 'den' (pine) was struck out from Johan Derksen's slogan 'Wakker Worden'. The group covered the 'flower neighbourhood' around the Floralaan and the 'bird region' around the Graspieperweide. The Eekhoornlaan area in Wageningen Hoog and the Noordwest area were also pasted over. 'That happened a couple of days ago, and most of the tapes are still there,' relates Kees.
One of Kees's co-workers was caught in the act by a police officer who happened to be driving past. When he explained what he was doing, he was immediately given a fine. 'I expected to get a warning at most. A fine is going too far absolutely,' says the student who prefers to remain anonymous. Last weekend, a notice of offence was served: 100 euros for the pasting. 'The fine itself is not the problem. However, this will be recorded in the Judicial Documentation System which can affect the certificate of good conduct (VOG).' The student feels that this is 'absurd' and will appeal.
The students protest against the nature policy of Henk Bleker. 'It is an extremely inadequate policy,' says Kees. 'All that is left will be the European legislation; the rest will be struck off. And I think it's very bad that the Ecological Main Structure isn't completed.' It is not clear who has masterminded this protest action. The protest was propagated through Facebook and carried out loosely by various groups of people. 'A protest concerning the nature is difficult to put together in the Netherlands, because there isn't one umbrella organization,' says Kees. 'It is rather disjointed.'