Society - Figures
Forest fauna populations have risen since 1990. Developments which started in this period, such as the ageing of forests, have benefited breeding birds and mammals in particular. This has resulted in growing populations of birds breeding in holes such as the nuthatch and the pied flycatcher, but also of mammals such as the hazel dormouse and the bank vole. Likewise, several forest butterfly species have become more abundant in recent decades.
Typical forest butterflies like the Purple Emperor have made a major comeback in recent years. The status of other species has deteriorated significantly; the White Admiral which used to be widespread is now in rapid decline, for instance.
60 to 70 percent of the 27 breeding bird species typically found on Dutch farmland have virtually disappeared, after declining from an estimated 4 million breeding pairs in 1960 to 1.5 million breeding pairs in 2017. Several species have all but vanished from large parts of the country. Since 1960, an estimated 750 thousand to 1.1 million breeding pairs of the skylark have been lost. The partridge, the European turtle dove, the Eurasian tree sparrow (all three species declining by over 90 percent) and the grutto (down by nearly 70 percent) have all become a rare sight on Dutch farmland.
Urban fauna has suffered decline as well over the period 1990–2017, but at varying rates. The abundance of butterflies in the city remained stable in this period, while breeding bird populations – counted as a group – were more than halved. The trend has been stable for six urban bird species, but downward for 13 other species such as the house sparrow and the starling. Only one out of the 20 urban bird species has increased in number: the common house martin.
Species which are characteristic for freshwater wetlands and swamps have increased by 37 percent since 1990. This includes 141 species of fish, breeding birds, amphibians, dragonflies, mammals and butterflies. Among these species, 74 have improved while 38 have declined. Recovery has mainly been due to the improved quality of fresh waters. The largest increase among the wetland species is seen in dragonfly populations. Dragonflies have clearly benefited from the improved water quality. Their population has been stable over the past decade.
Since 1990, many animal species characteristic for heathland have deteriorated such as breeding birds and butterflies. Most reptile species have been able to either survive or increase. Of the 20 heathland species, 7 have increased while 13 have declined. Among the breeding birds, the black grouse has virtually disappeared while the tawny pipit and the great grey shrike have even disappeared completely. On the other hand, some species have increased, including the nightjar and the European stonechat.
An even stronger decline than the characteristic breeding birds is seen among heathland butterflies. The Niobe Fritillary and the Tree Grayling have become (nearly) extinct. Relative to 1992, declines have furthermore been recorded among the Grayling, the Silver-studded Blue and the Cranberry Fritillary.
The Dutch Living Planet Index (LPI) indicates the average population trends of 357 different species found in the Netherlands, including breeding birds, reptiles, amphibians, butterflies, dragonflies, mammals and freshwater fishes. The LPI increased by 6 percent over the period 1990–2017. The trend has stabilised over the past decade.
The increase is mainly due to growing populations of mammals (126 percent), birds (15 percent), reptiles (97 percent) and dragonflies (79 percent). Amphibian populations increased by 6 percent over the entire period but have been in decline since 2006. Butterfly and fish populations have decreased by 49 and 1 percent, respectively.