Wetenschap - 10 december 2011

Stop grumbling about nature

Stop grumbling and grab whatever chances you can find that are lying all around. That is the message of the Day of the Forest held on Wednesday in Gaia.

Nature is in decline.' With these sombre words, Professor Bas Arts opened the Day of the Forest organized by his Forest and Nature Conservation Group jointly with Forest Ecology and Forest Management.  According to Arts, the planned Ecological Main Structure is shrinking because of cost-savings in nature management. While the Netherlands was once the forerunner in following the European nature guidelines (Natura 2000), it is now leaning towards mediocrity.
Baby boomers
Walter Kooy, the director of Green Funds, says we should stop grumbling. The crisis and cost-cutting in nature management are opening up new avenues, he says. If you want to make nature more valuable, you would have to put a price tag on it. 'The baby boomers would have to end up one day in the crematorium. If you create burial grounds in nature, these would soon fetch a tidy sum.'
Living in the wild  
'We have forgotten the art of living outdoors,' feels Nico Beun of Innovation Network, one of the six speakers of the day. He thinks that the Dutch have to allow more nature areas to be lived in. 'That will bring in money and those living among the nature can be responsible for managing it and the landscape.' Alex Sievers of Soulife Wolf, a forward-looking organization which aims to stimulate living in the wild, has similar thoughts. He even wants to go a step further. 'You can have houses and let zebras, bears or lions roam in the surroundings. Or let rhinoceroses wander in the Peat Colonies (area in the north of the Netherlands); anything is possible.' According to Sievers, the rich will mostly be the ones willing to pay a high price to live with wild animals.
Dark and quiet
Jan den Ouden, a lecturer in Forest Ecology and Forest Management, does not like the idea of building and messing about in nature. He says: 'Once, when my Belgium acquaintance and I were cycling across the Veluwe in the evening, he said: Wow, it's so dark and quiet here. You don't find this in Belgium anymore.' Den Ouden thinks it is better to leave the forest as it is for future generations.

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