Nature Outlook 2010-2040

Changing desires

For the route of the A2 through Maastricht a tunnel has been designed with greenery at ground level (figure left. The greenery forms an ecological connection between to large areas of nature (figure right).

Over the last thirty years, a great deal has changed in the use and thus also in the appearance of the natural and built landscape. What society wants in terms of how nature is used will continue to change, over the coming decades.

Take into account nature’s environmental requirements in spatial developments

In spatial planning it is important to take into account what it is that different types of nature require, on all scales – local, regional and national – in terms of stability and dynamics of environmental and water conditions. Some nature systems can cope with highly dynamic conditions (or even depend on them) while others require a high degree of stability.

Avoid activities that prevent sustainable use for longer periods of time

Activities that may close the door on a sustainable use of space in the longer term must be prevented, especially now that nature policy is in a transitional phase. In this context, activities of an irreversible nature, such as erecting permanent structures, should be very carefully considered.

Make use of temporary wasteland sites

Land which is awaiting definitive development could more often be awarded a temporary use. An example is the construction of wind turbines (with a depreciation period of 20 to 30 years) on wasteland awaiting development or intended for nature cultivation. The money earned from such temporary use could be used to develop nature elsewhere in the area.

Combine nature development with building construction

Opportunities for combining building projects with nature development particularly arise in and around cities. One condition would be that project developers are aware of the importance of green surroundings in the built environment. Additionally, the nature sector would need to provide room for development, for example, by tailoring the boundaries of nature areas to the development plan. The authorities can facilitate by applying regulations in a flexible manner, and by coordinating policies and rules of the various government bodies involved.

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The Nature Outlook is a statutory product of the PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency with cooperation from Wageningen UR.