Researchers of Utrecht University and Radboud University have revealed the successful combination of a lower flood risk with the start of biodiversity recovery. Multiple groups of endangered and protected species are returning to river areas in the Netherlands. The researchers published their findings on 8 November in the open access journal Science Advances.
The Netherlands has lost more plant and animal species than the rest of Europe in the past centuries, while Europe has in turn lost more species on average than the rest of the world. The water quality has already improved in recent decades and this has had a positive effect on the presence of species. New threats to biodiversity have also emerged, however, such as the use of pesticides that threaten insects and therefore also birds. Biodiversity is very important for preventing pests, enabling agriculture and horticulture, and maintaining globally connected food chains on land, in rivers and in oceans.
Space for the river
The government project ‘Space for the River’ (Ruimte voor de Rivier) was a reaction to the high tides of 1993 and 1995. The main objective was better flood protection, but the measures were also expected to improve spatial quality and enable nature recovery. The effect on the water levels was already known. Researchers at Utrecht University and Radboud University analysed the effects on the biodiversity of seven groups of species (plants, birds, mammals, reptiles and amphibians, fish, dragonflies and butterflies).