Henk Bleker has announced that he is leaving the political area after wielding the sceptre over Dutch nature for two years. All those caps saying 'Fair and clear, Henk' can go back in the drawer. Farewells mean parties, only I am not sure what sort of party this will be. My suspicion is that glasses will be certainly raised and flags hung out all over the country.
The history writers will pronounce their verdict: did Bleker simply do his job in carrying out the government agreement to the letter, and would he actually dearly have liked to implement a different kind of policy, as various 'boys and girls from the band' claim? And will we ever know the answer to this question? For the time being we shall have to make do with the evidence of a few facts. The policies that have constantly been in the news - the new legislation on nature, the Ecological Main Structure and its 'sturdy corridors', and the Hedwige polder - will not have been implemented quite as the fallen secretary of state might have wished. His excessive cuts to nature funding have been reversed and, perhaps the most important point of all: the word nature is once again being uttered in politics without leaving a nasty taste in the mouth. The tables have been turned, that is for sure, and a new balance will have to be sought, but one thing is clear: nature matters again, and I am happy about that.
And Henk Bleker? I don't worry my head about him to be honest. No doubt he is enjoying the nature around his home. A shy deer visiting his garden in the early morning, a pheasant suddenly flapping up out of a field of beets...
I look forward to Bleker's successor.