Modest recovery of biodiversity in a western European country: The Living Planet Index for the Netherlands

Arco J. van Strien*, Adriaan W. Gmelig Meyling, Jelger E. Herder, Hans Hollander, Vincent J. Kalkman, Martin J.M. Poot, Sander Turnhout, Berry van der Hoorn, Willy T.F.H. van Strien-van Liempt, Chris A.M. van Swaay, Chris A.M. van Turnhout, Richard J.T. Verweij, Natasja J. Oerlemans

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

47 Citations (Scopus)


We calculated a Living Planet Index (LPI) for the Netherlands, based on 361 animal species from seven taxonomic groups occurring in terrestrial and freshwater habitats. Our assessment is basically similar to the global LPI, but the latter includes vertebrate species and trends in population abundance only. To achieve inferences on trends in biodiversity more generally, we added two insect groups (butterflies and dragonflies) and added occupancy trends for species for which we had no abundance trends available. According to the LPI, the state of biodiversity has slightly increased from 1990 to 2014. However, large differences exist between habitat types. We found a considerable increase in freshwater animal populations, probably because of improvement of chemical water quality and rehabilitation of marshland habitats. We found no trend in the LPI for woodland populations. In contrast, populations in farmland and open semi-natural habitats (coastal dunes, heathland and semi-natural grassland) declined, which we attribute to intensive agricultural practices and nitrogen deposition, respectively. The LPI shows that, even in a densely populated western European country, ongoing loss of animal biodiversity is not inevitable and may even be reversed if adequate measures are taken. Our approach enabled us to produce summary statistics beyond the level of species groups to monitor the state of biodiversity in a clear and consistent way.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)44-50
Number of pages7
JournalBiological Conservation
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • 2020 target
  • Abundance trends
  • Biodiversity change
  • Occupancy trends
  • Opportunistic data
  • Standardised data


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