The only Dutch jungle is to be found on paper. Recently a Dutch nature conservationist complained at a meeting about all the rules he had to cope with in his area. The Dutch government wants to develop an ecological network, by pinpointing new nature reserves and connecting existing ones, but the onus of implementation will fall to provinces, land owners (mostly farmers) and nature organisations. Implementation is decentralised, which means that all the participants have their own goals and policies, and nobody knows what parts of the ecological network have already been set up. The World Wildlife Fund has made a proposal to dismantle small dykes near the Dutch rivers and give the water free access to the riverine areas. However, they are unable to purchase the land for this purpose; the Dutch authorities are sponsoring two organisations which will bargain with the land owners. While the price of land remains high, the government has too little money to achieve its aims.
Farmers are now also trying to get a piece of the cake, by asking for payment when they implement ecological management of their farms.
Soil Science and Geology is the first WAU department that has sacked lecturers, due to the university's cutbacks. Two of the six people who have been made redundant have complained about the procedure, and want to bring legal proceedings against the university. We are all aged between 51 and 55 years old, which is a difficult age to find a job elsewhere." The two members want part-time jobs and have criticised the chair holders of the department and the personnel department for not having arranged the necessary cutbacks in such a way that would be possible.
How do Dutch consumers make their choice when they want to buy a car, a sixpack of beer or cheese? There used to be a relationship between the consumers age and income and their buying behaviour: rich people buy Mercedes, less well-off buy an Opel. But it is not fancy any more to buy large amounts or the biggest item of a product, and extra quality is also becoming a meaningless distinction. The WAU market researcher Hans van Trijp looked at variety seeking behaviour: when do consumers remain faithful to their brand, when do they become bored with the products they usually buy? The producers should invent unique selling points, says Van Trijp, to meet the variety drive of the consumers.
A population biologist at the Wijster experimental biological centre has studied the life cycle of the ground beetle for the past 35 years. I wanted to study the dynamics of populations", says founding father Den Boer, What changes does extinction bring, and which processes determine this?" His group has monitored 68 species of ground beetle. Scientists always thought that genetic degradation in small areas was the cause of extinction", says Den Boer. This is certainly a problem, but the natural fluctuation of the beetle population is buffered by the exchange between subpopulations." Networks between the beetle groups are therefore very important.