In such situations, it is essential for good practice that all those with interests in wildlife are able to participate as full partners. It is surprising that the Dutch, otherwise so practiced at negotiation and consensus-building in their heavily urbanized country, are having difficulties with this model, because interested parties do not always regard each other as valid partners, says dr. Ron Ydenberg, Professor in Wildlife Management, at Wageningen University, Netherlands.
The Earth’s human population is rapidly approaching the ecological carrying capacity of the planet, and no other issue will have as great an impact on the quality of live in this and the next centuries, stated Ydenberg in his inaugural lecture, entitled COOPERATIVE WILDLIFE MANAGEMENT IN THE 21ST CENTURY. Because conflicts between humans and wildlife occurs when and wherever human populations grow, sustainable wildlife management is an issue that among all the others must also be addressed. Professor Ydenberg notes that even in his sparsely-populated home country Canada, some of the biggest management issues are similar to those in The Netherlands, because they often occur in cities. The Dutch experience provides a good basis to expand scientific knowledge of wildlife management in densely-populated places, which will become necessary as the world continues to urbanize.Cooperation
However, in many systems it brings with it strong changes that can negatively affect endemic species. As prime example of the first, Ydenberg points to the reintroduction of the wolf to Yellowstone National Park in the U.S.A., which set off a chain-reaction of positive effects on the entire ecosystem. The danger posed by the wolves forced elk to greatly restrict their grazing activities, which in turn allowed thickets of aspen and willow to regenerate, for the first time in 50 years. This in turn supported the return of the beaver, also long absent in Yellowstone. Beavers and their dams soon affected the hydrology, which in turn affected nutrient dynamics, which in turn supported the return of butterfly species also long absent in the park. No one anticipated the power and reach of these effects.Lessons for The Netherlands
Ron Ydenberg (Vancouver 1955) was born in Canada to recently-emigrated Dutch parents. He studied at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, and spent 18 months studying in The Netherlands, at the Rijksuniversiteit in Groningen. He subsequently obtained a D.Phil. at Oxford University, and returned to Simon Fraser University, where he is currently Director of the Centre for Wildlife Ecology. Since 2007 he has been Professor by Special Appointment of Wildlife Management at Wageningen University. Professor Ydenberg’s chair is supported by the Royal Dutch Hunter’s Association (KNJV).
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