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Sixth National Report

submitted on: 15 Jul 2019   last updated: 17 Jul 2019

Section I. Information on the targets being pursued at the national level

Netherlands

1. By 2020, the assessments of species and habitats protected by EU nature law show better conservation or a secure status in Europe for 100 % more habitats and 50 % more species.

The Kingdom of the Netherlands also includes six Caribbean islands. The islands of Saba, Sint Eustatius and Bonaire are special municipalities and together form the Caribbean Netherlands, while the islands of Sint Maarten, Aruba and Curaçao are constituent countries. The implementation of the first Caribbean Netherlands Nature Policy Plan 2013–2017 is still being evaluated, while no national targets have been adopted for the other islands. The information on the Caribbean will therefore be provided in the section on the Aichi Targets. The national targets in the first four sections are for the European Netherlands.

The Netherlands has committed itself to nature objectives stated in the EU Biodiversity Strategy and thus indirectly to those in the Convention on Biological Diversity. The national targets are based on the European targets and related to the Aichi Biodiversity Targets.

The EU has directives to ensure that species native to the EU and the habitats they depend on are protected. The Birds and Habitats Directives are crucial for preventing further loss of biodiversity and eventually fully restoring European biodiversity. The Directives are fully implemented in Dutch legislation (Nature Conservation Act), but ‘reaching a favourable conservation status of all habitat types and species of European importance and adequate populations of naturally occurring wild bird species’ (EU Biodiversity Strategy) is still a long way off. For habitats in water bodies, the EU Water Framework Directive is an important policy instrument for achieving good qualitative and quantitative status of these water bodies. The aim of this Directive is a 'good status' for all ground and surface waters (rivers, lakes, transitional waters and coastal waters) in the EU.

The relevant conventions, directives and agreements have been implemented in national policy and legislation, including the policy documents Natural Capital Agenda (NCA, 2013) and the national nature vision The Natural Way Forward – Government Vision 2014 (NV), and since the decentralisation of nature policy in the provincial Nature Visions (PVs) and in the Nature Pact (NP, 2013), the agreement between the Dutch government and the provinces on the implementation of Dutch nature policy. In these NBSAP’s the following objectives are related to the first main target By 2020, the assessments of species and habitats protected by EU nature law show better conservation or a secure status in Europe for 100 % more habitats and 50 % more species” of the European biodiversity strategy (‘protect species and habitats’):

o    protect and improve the conservation status of species (NV, NP, PVs);

o    improve environmental conditions in pursuit of the goals set by the Birds and Habitats Directives (NV, NP, PVs);

o    improve spatial conditions by creating a robust national ecological network (NV, NP, PVs);

o    effective regulation to protect nature and reduce burden on business and the public (NV, PVs);

o    build an open, learning knowledge network: know more together; knowledge sharing to increase awareness, public support and participation (NV, NCA, PVs).


EN
Level of application
Sub-national
Kingdom of the Netherlands in Europe
EN
Relevance of National Targets to Aichi Targets
12. Preventing extinctions
 
1. Awareness of biodiversity values
5. Loss of habitats
8. Pollution
11. Protected areas
19. Biodiversity knowledge
Relevant documents and information

The most important NBSAP for this target is the Nature Pact. In the Nature Pact (2013), the ambitions for the restoration and management of nature in the Netherlands were agreed upon between the Dutch national government and the provinces for the period 2011 up to and including 2027. The focus of biodiversity policy in the Netherlands lies on the realisation and management of the national ecological network (NEN) which is due to be completed in 2027. The Natura 2000 sites are an important part of the NEN and the conservation of the Natura 2000 habitat types and species are an important part of the biodiversity policy. The Dutch government has decentralised the responsibility for habitat restoration and conservation management to the provinces. The ambitions they agreed upon include:

-    protect and improve the conservation status of species set by the EU Birds and Habitats Directives;

-    improve environmental conditions in pursuit of the goals set by the EU Directives;

-    create a robust national ecological network;

-    a more effective and regional approach to agri-environmental management.

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2. By 2020, ecosystems and their services are maintained and enhanced by establishing green infrastructure and restoring at least 15 % of degraded ecosystems.

The EU considers our natural capital to be important because we depend on nature for food, energy, raw materials, air, water and more. The services provided by healthy ecosystems make life possible and support the economy. But many ecosystems and their services across the EU territory are now degraded and fragmented as a result of intensive agriculture, urban sprawl and grey infrastructure such as railways, roads and bridges, as well as the impacts of pollution, invasive alien species and climate change. The loss and degradation of valuable ecosystems also undermines the benefits that flow from nature to people and the economy. This target will contribute to the EU's sustainable growth and help the mitigation of and adaptation to climate change. It will also ensure protected habitats are better connected, within and between Natura 2000 areas as well as in the wider countryside. By taking nature's benefits into account in socioeconomic decisions, ecosystems can keep on providing their vital services.

The Netherlands has committed itself to nature objectives stated in the EU Biodiversity Strategy and thus indirectly to those in the Convention on Biological Diversity. The national targets are based on the European targets and related to the Aichi Biodiversity Targets. 

The relevant conventions, directives and agreements have been implemented in national policy and legislation, including the policy documents Natural Capital Agenda (NCA, 2013) and the national nature vision The Natural Way Forward – Government Vision 2014 (NV), and since the decentralisation of nature policy in the provincial Nature Visions (PVs) and in the Nature Pact (NP, 2013), the agreement between the Dutch government and the provinces on the implementation of Dutch nature policy. In these NBSAP’s the following objectives are related to the second main target of the European biodiversity strategy:

  • regional development with nature combinations (recreation, drinking water, energy): green living and working; develop and build with nature (NV, PVs);
  • future-proof nature: more room for natural processes (NV, PVs);
  • improve spatial conditions by creating a robust national ecological network (NP);
  • by 2020, all ecosystem services in the Netherlands will have been identified, along with recognition of their contribution to the economy, and this will be incorporated into the decision-making process of government and the private sector (NCA).


EN
Level of application
Sub-national
Kingdom of the Netherlands in Europe
EN
Relevance of National Targets to Aichi Targets
14. Essential ecosystem services
 
2. Integration of biodiversity values
3. Incentives
5. Loss of habitats
8. Pollution
10. Vulnerable ecosystems
15. Ecosystem resilience
Relevant documents and information

The most important NBSAP for this target is the national nature vision The Natural Way Forward (Min. EZ, 2014), which focuses on the protection and sustainable use of biodiversity in collaboration with citizens, businesses and civil society organisations. These societal partners have an increasing say in and responsibility for contributing to nature conservation and habitat creation. The aim is to highlight the advantages of combining nature conservation with other social and economic interests. Citizens, businesses and civil society organisations are encouraged to incorporate nature conservation and biodiversity protection into other social and economic interests to the fullest possible extent. This policy document includes eight objectives:
-    green enterprise: the driver of the economy (sustainable trade chains and consumption);
-    nature-inclusive agriculture: nature and agriculture as natural partners;
-    regional development with nature combinations (recreation, drinking water, landscape, energy, climate change): the region is where it is happening;
-    green living and working: everything to be gained;
-    future-proof nature: more room for natural processes;
-    effective regulation to protect nature and reduce burden on businesses and the public;
-    develop and build with nature: government sets the example;
-    build an open, learning knowledge network: know more together.

The national nature vision was created with input from many stakeholders and public consultation.

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3. By 2020, the conservation of species and habitats depending on or affected by agriculture and forestry, and the provision of their ecosystem services show measurable improvements.

The EU gives priority role to the agriculture and forestry sectors in helping to maintain and improve biodiversity. Agriculture and forestry go hand in hand with the biodiversity on which they depend, and both have a big impact on its health. The efforts made to integrate biodiversity into agriculture and forestry in Europe are still not sufficient. By 2020, the EU wants to achieve a measurable improvement, compared to the EU2010 baseline, in the conservation of species and habitats depending on or affected by agriculture and forestry, and in the provision of their ecosystem services.

The Netherlands has committed itself to nature objectives stated in the EU Biodiversity Strategy and thus indirectly to those in the Convention on Biological Diversity. The relevant conventions, directives and agreements have been implemented in national policy and legislation, including the policy documents Natural Capital Agenda (NCA, 2013) and the national nature vision The Natural Way Forward – Government Vision 2014 (NV), and since the decentralisation of nature policy in the provincial Nature Visions (PVs) and in the Nature Pact (NP, 2013), the agreement between the Dutch government and the provinces on the implementation of Dutch nature policy. In these NBSAPs several objectives are related to the main targets of the EU Biodiversity Strategy.

o    a more effective and regional approach to agri-environmental management (NP);

o    nature-inclusive agriculture; nature and agriculture as natural partners (NV);

o    by 2020, sustainable agricultural management will be in place to ensure the conservation of biodiversity and natural capital (NCA).


Furthermore, The Netherlands has an Agricultural Vision: Agriculture, nature and food: valuable and connected The Netherlands as a leader in circular agriculture (LNV 2018). In this Vision one of the objectives is related to the third main target of the European biodiversity strategy. It serves as a benchmark for assessing national policy plans; one of the criteria is that they should benefit ecosystems (water, soil, air), biodiversity and the natural values of farm landscapes.


The three objectives listed above are all concerned with agriculture. Dutch forest and biodiversity polices are already integrated and most forests are included within the NEN and are managed accordingly.


EN
Level of application
Sub-national
Kingdom of the Netherlands in Europe
EN
Relevance of National Targets to Aichi Targets
7. Areas under sustainable management
 
4. Use of natural resources
13. Agricultural biodiversity
Relevant documents and information

All three NBSAPs mentioned in the above list are important for this target. However, agricultural targets are also subject to other policies, such as the common agricultural policy (CAP), the Water Framework Directive and the Nitrates Directive. The EU countries are permitted to define their own agricultural policy within the terms set out in the CAP. The CAP has two components: agricultural subsidies and subsidies for rural development. The amount of money available for measures that benefit biodiversity has increased with every subsequent CAP period. The Nitrates Directive aims to protect water quality across Europe by preventing nitrates from agricultural sources polluting ground and surface waters.


Unlike in many other countries, in the Netherlands forestry has a conservation objective and is not part of the agricultural domain. Forestry is generally sustainable. Most of the forested area of the Netherlands is included in the NEN and is eligible for subsidies for forest management. Almost 90% of timber used in the Netherlands is imported. Dutch policy therefore focuses on certified international timber chains to support sustainable forest management in other countries.

EN

4. By 2015, fishing is sustainable. By 2020, fish stocks are healthy and European seas healthier. Fishing has no significant adverse impacts on species and ecosystems.

The EU considers that current fishing practices are not always sustainable. Not only do these activities place undue pressures on fished species, but they also damage the marine ecosystem as a whole. The EU’s aim is fisheries management with no significant adverse impacts on species and ecosystems so that all European oceans and seas can be ecologically diverse and dynamic, as well as clean, healthy and productive by 2020. The EU Marine Strategy Framework Directive complements the Birds and Habitats Directives and aims to protect the marine environment and establish a good environmental quality through various measures, including the designation of marine protected areas, adapting fishing activities and involving the fisheries sector in alternative activities such as ecotourism, monitoring marine biodiversity and the fight against marine litter.

The relevant conventions, directives and agreements have been implemented in national policy and legislation, including the policy documents Natural Capital Agenda (NCA, 2013) and the national nature vision The Natural Way Forward – Government Vision 2014 (NV), and since the decentralisation of nature policy in the provincial Nature Visions (PVs) and in the Nature Pact (NP, 2013), the agreement between the Dutch government and the provinces on the implementation of Dutch nature policy. In the NBSAP the following objectives are related to the fourth main target of the European biodiversity strategy:

o    By 2020, both the aquaculture chain and the wild-caught fish chain will meet international sustainability criteria for stock management and biodiversity (NCA).

EN
Level of application
Sub-national
Kingdom of the Netherlands in Europe
EN
Relevance of National Targets to Aichi Targets
6. Sustainable fisheries
 
4. Use of natural resources
11. Protected areas
Relevant documents and information

The common fisheries policy (CFP), the Birds and Habitats Directives and the Marine Strategy Framework Directive are the most important policies on sustainable fisheries and the marine environment. The current national target stipulates that between 2015 and 2020 catch limits should be set that are sustainable and maintain fish stocks over the long term. The CFP management plans are based on scientific advice and seek to make fishing fleets more selective in what they catch, with the aim of phasing out the practice of discarding unwanted fish.


The government’s white paper ‘Nature Ambition for the Large Water Bodies: 2050 and beyond’ published in 2014 sketches a vision of resilient, robust and climate-proof ecosystems with opportunities for nature combinations such as sustainable fishing, recreation and other uses. The ‘Programmatic Approach to the Ecology of the Large Water Bodies’  and EU LIFE IP Deltanatuur 2016–2022 programme set out to implement that vision for nature conservation and water quality while ensuring safety and providing for sustainable use.


EN

5. By 2020, invasive alien species are identified, priority species controlled or eradicated, and pathways managed to prevent new invasive species from disrupting European biodiversity.

The EU considers invasive alien species to be a major threat to Europe's native biodiversity. They also cause economic damage amounting to billions of euros every year. This threat and damage is likely to increase in the future unless decisive and coordinated action is taken to control introduction pathways, prevent their establishment and spread, and manage already established populations. Prevention is a priority because established populations can be expensive to manage and difficult or impossible to eradicate. The IAS Regulation (Regulation (EU) 1143/2014 on invasive alien species) entered into force on 1 January 2015. A list of Invasive Alien Species of Union concern (the Union list) has been adopted and currently includes 49 species that are subject to common action at EU level as set out in the IAS Regulation. The fifth target of the EU Biodiversity Strategy is the objective of Dutch policy on invasive alien species.



EN
Level of application
Sub-national
Kingdom of the Netherlands in Europe
EN
Relevance of National Targets to Aichi Targets
9. Invasive Alien Species
Relevant documents and information

The IAS Regulation is the most important policy on invasive alien species. It imposes restrictions on keeping, importing, selling, breeding and growing listed species. Member States are required to take measures for prevention, early detection and rapid eradication and to manage populations that are already widely spread in their territory. The Union list is updated at regular intervals. The Dutch Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality asked the Netherlands Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority (NVWA) to advise on the Dutch approach per Union list species. This advice has been laid down in a strategy document on Union list species published in September 2016 (Onderbouwing strategie Unielijstsoorten). The NVWA also advised the ministry of species that might be added to the Union list. The risk of additional alien species becoming invasive has been assessed and reported on by the NVWA’s Invasive Alien Species Team (Team Invasieve Exoten) and species experts.

To prevent the introduction of marine alien species via the ballast water of ships, in 2010 the Netherlands signed the International Convention for the Control and Management of Ships’ Ballast Water and Sediments (BWM) under the auspices of the International Maritime Organization (IMO). The essence of this agreement is that ships must have an approved ballast water treatment plant which removes organisms. The Convention has been signed by 66 Parties representing 75% of world trade tonnage and entered into force on 8 September 2017.

EN

6. By 2020, the EU has stepped up its contribution to avert global biodiversity loss.

The EU is committed to stepping up its contribution to averting global biodiversity loss. The EU derives great benefits from global biodiversity, but some of its consumption patterns are an important cause of biodiversity loss and habitat degradation beyond EU borders. The EU Biodiversity Strategy to 2020 is in line with international commitments made in October 2010, when the UN Convention on Biological Diversity adopted a strategic plan to address global biodiversity loss over the next decade. The EU is stepping up its contribution to averting global biodiversity loss by greening its economy and endeavouring to reduce its pressure on global biodiversity.

The Netherlands has committed itself to nature objectives stated in the EU Biodiversity Strategy and thus indirectly to those in the Convention on Biological Diversity. The relevant conventions, directives and agreements have been implemented in national policy and legislation, including the policy documents Natural Capital Agenda (NCA, 2013) and the national nature vision The Natural Way Forward – Government Vision 2014 (NV), and since the decentralisation of nature policy in the provincial Nature Visions (PVs) and in the Nature Pact (NP, 2013), the agreement between the Dutch government and the provinces on the implementation of Dutch nature policy. In these NBSAP’s the following objectives are related to the sixth main target of the European biodiversity strategy:

o    by 2020, the most important agricultural raw material chains will meet sustainability criteria for biodiversity (NCA);

o    fair agreement on the use of plant genetic resources (NCA);

o    green enterprise: driver of the economy (NV).



EN
Level of application
Sub-national
Kingdom of the Netherlands in Europe
EN
Relevance of National Targets to Aichi Targets
4. Use of natural resources
 
16. Nagoya Protocol on ABS
17. NBSAPs
18. Traditional knowledge
20. Resource mobilization
Relevant documents and information

The most important NBSAP for this target is the Natural Capital Agenda (Min. EZ & Min. I&M, 2013). This policy plan focuses on the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity, both nationally and internationally. The strategy’s objective is to secure resilient ecosystems and ecosystem services that contribute to biodiversity, water and food security, welfare and combating poverty. Developing a nature-inclusive economy and securing international biodiversity are important elements of nature policy.
Ecosystem services protection focuses on the implementation and management of natural capital and sustainable production and consumption mostly outside the Netherlands. It has four general objectives (which includes 16 action points):

1.    By 2020, the most important agricultural raw material chains will meet sustainability criteria for biodiversity, with fair agreement on use of plant genetic resources.
2.    By 2020, both the aquaculture chain and the wild-caught fish chain will meet international sustainability criteria for stock management and biodiversity; overfishing within EU waters will have been halted as a condition for restoring fish populations; seabed life and the quality of the marine environment will be improved; international Marine Protected Areas will have been introduced to protect biodiversity and overfishing and pollution will be prevented and tackled where possible.
3.    By 2020, sustainable agricultural management will be in place to ensure the conservation of biodiversity within the Netherlands. Internationally, pilots will have been set up to demonstrate that the private sector can and is willing to contribute to the restoration of ecosystems and that a degraded area can be turned around and transferred into an area of productive and diverse biodiversity with a balanced water system.
4.    By 2020, all ecosystem services in the Netherlands will have been identified, along with recognition of their contribution to the economy and this will be incorporated into the decision-making process of government and the private sector.

The Netherlands has deposited the instrument of ratification, acceptance, approval or accession of the Nagoya Protocol and has drawn up a national regulation to implement the Protocol. The measures taken are based on EU Regulation 511/2014 and Implementing Regulation EU 2015/1866. The Dutch Act implementing the Nagoya Protocol has been in force since April 2016. The EU Access and Benefit Sharing Regulation under the Nagoya Protocol sets out how researchers and companies can obtain access to genetic resources and the traditional knowledge linked to these resources. It also explains how benefits arising from the use of genetic resources and the associated traditional knowledge must be shared with the countries providing these resources.

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Section II. Implementation measures, their effectiveness, and associated obstacles and scientific and technical needs to achieve national targets

1. Create new habitat within the National Ecological Network (NEN) aiming for the development of unfragmented viable species populations.

The national ecological network (NEN) includes all 161 EU Natura 2000 sites and is the cornerstone of biodiversity conservation in the Netherlands (Figure 1). The NEN is a network of natural and semi-natural habitat and agricultural land earmarked for conversion to nature. Under the Nature Pact agreement, the provinces will strengthen the NEN by creating at least 80,000 ha of new nature between 2011 and 2027.

The NEN was introduced in the 1990 Nature Policy Plan by the Ministry of Agriculture, Nature Management and Fisheries (currently the Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality). The provinces are now responsible for the implementation of nature policy and realisation of the network. The aim of the NEN is to halt the decline in the area of natural and semi-natural habitat and the loss of biodiversity through the creation of a coherent network of protected areas. This is achieved by enlarging and connecting current nature areas, mainly through the conversion of agricultural land to nature. Having larger natural areas also makes it easier to improve and maintain good water and environmental conditions. Better connectivity between habitats facilitates species migration, enabling them to adapt to climate change.

The land area of the NEN is subject to the 'no, unless' protection regime in the National Policy Strategy for Infrastructure and Spatial Planning (SVIR, I&M, 2012), which is enforced via provincial and municipal physical environment plans. The total area of designated land in the NEN amounts to some 750,000 ha. Not represented in this figure are the large water bodies, such as the Wadden Sea, IJsselmeer lake, the delta waters in the southwest of the Netherlands and the territorial waters of the North Sea, which are also part of the NEN. All the provinces have now formally delineated the NEN areas within their territories and made appropriate provisions in their physical environment plans, structural visions and planning regulations.


Any development plan is subject to an environmental impact assessment. The government encourages the inclusion of habitat creation and restoration in development plans by combining nature with other functions, such as climate change adaptation, drinking water supply, redesigning tourism accommodation facilities, urban development, infrastructure investment, flood protection, etc.


Figure 1

EN
1. By 2020, the assessments of species and habitats protected by EU nature law show better conservation or a secure status in Europe for 100 % more habitats and 50 % more species.
2. By 2020, ecosystems and their services are maintained and enhanced by establishing green infrastructure and restoring at least 15 % of degraded ecosystems.
Measure taken has been partially effective

Realisation of the national ecological network (NEN) has been effective for the creation of new habitat and the mitigation of habitat fragmentation, but is still insufficient in scale to achieve the national targets in 2020. Development of the NEN began in 1990 and it is still increasing in size. Habitat loss has been halted and reversed, resulting in net gains. Development of the NEN will continue until 2027.

It is difficult to assess whether or not the measure has been effective as causal relations and interactions between measures, results and targets are very complex. The indicators show, however, that considerable progress has been made and that the measure is contributing towards several targets. We therefore conclude that the measure taken has been partially effective.

Habitat creation and protected areas
In the period 1990–2017 more than 108,000 ha of land were acquired for the realisation of the NEN (Figure 2). More than 85,000 ha of agricultural land has been converted to nature (Figure 3). Since 2011 the provinces have converted almost 33,000 ha to nature. The total area of Natura 2000 sites in the Netherlands currently stands at around 20,606 square kilometres, which is more than 14% of the area of land and inland water and more than 23% of coastal and marine areas (North Sea, Wadden Sea, Oosterschelde and Westerschelde). An additional almost 400,000 ha is nationally designated for conservation measures and protected by a ‘no-unless’ planning regime. In total, the NEN covers more than 26% of the land and inland water area.

Figure 2 and  Figure 3

Fragmentation
Fragmentation of the NEN by national transport infrastructure (motorways, waterways and railways) is being tackled through the multiannual habitat defragmentation programme (Meerjarenprogramma Ontsnippering, MJPO; BenW 2004). Between 2005 and 2018 no less than 114 (64%) of the 178 identified infrastructure barriers causing fragmentation were resolved and a further 46 measures were still under construction (Figure 4). The measures implemented include the construction of green bridges, eco-culverts, wildlife underpasses, wildlife overpasses at tree crown level and hop-overs. Surveys show that most wildlife crossings serve multiple species. Wildlife crossings in combination with wildlife fencing also considerably reduce the number of road kills.


Figure 4


Rivers and streams contain many obstacles to migratory fish species, such as dams, hydro turbines and pumping stations. The Benelux Decision on the free migration of fish (M2009) states that migratory fish species, particularly eel, salmon, sea trout and flounder, must be able to migrate freely in all river basins. The new Benelux Decision includes a prioritisation map showing all obstacles to be removed by 2027. Other policy regulations for migratory fish are the European Eel Regulation (European Union, 2007) and the Water Framework Directive. Many fish passages have already been built. The Rhine and the Meuse rivers have been fully accessible to migratory fish since 2007 thanks to the construction of fish passes at the larger dams (Figure 5). Although fish passes have been constructed to enable upstream migration, downstream migration can still be a problem, for example in the Meuse. The Haringvliet sluice gate forms part of an important migration route, as it is the main discharge channel for the Rhine. This barrier was removed in 2018 by the Kierbesluit (decision to leave the sluice gates ajar).


Figure 5


Spatial protection regime

The National Policy Strategy for Infrastructure and Spatial Planning (SVIR) lays down a ‘no, unless’ development control regime for the NEN that protects nature within the network against development with negative impacts. Under this regime housing construction within the boundaries of the NEN increased only slightly between 2000 and 2017.

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The creation of the NEN is also an important measure for mitigating the effects of climate change as it creates ecological corridors, for example along rivers and along the coast, through which species can migrate as climate conditions shift northwards, and the impact of extreme weather conditions can be reduced by taking adaptive measures within the NEN.

On 22 March 2018, the Minister of Infrastructure and Water Management presented the evaluation of the Room for the River programme to the House of Representatives. The goal of this programme was to manage the expected increasing frequency of high volume river water discharges in the future. Radical measures were taken at 30 locations along the main rivers to substantially reduce the risk of flooding and significantly improve safety levels for people living in the area. The measures were designed to restore natural rive