Context Both global change and policy reform will affect the implementation of the National Ecological Network (NEN) in the Netherlands. Global change refers to a combination of changing groundwater tables arising from climate change and improved economic prospects for farming. Policy reform refers to the abolition of an intermediary organization that organizes land trades with the support of a national land bank. Objective In this paper we evaluate the effects of these factors on future land acquisition for the NEN. Methods We applied an agent-based model of the land market based on sales and purchases between farmers and nature-conservation organizations (establishing the NEN) within a case study area. Results Our results demonstrate that future land acquisitions for the NEN are constrained by strong competition for land from farmers due to improved economic prospects for farming. Effects of climate change are that fewer parcels will be sold from farmers to nature-conservation organizations in a dry scenario as compared to a wet scenario. An important constraint for land acquisitions is the low willingness to pay (WTP) for land by nature-conservation organizations. We demonstrate that higher WTP increases land purchases considerably. However, the spatial pattern of land acquisition is fragmented, which may undermine its effectiveness from a restoration perspective. Conclusions The combination of these processes leads to land acquisitions for the NEN that do not meet the initially-stated policy objectives by far. In addition, the abolition of a land-trade organization supported by a land bank leads to more fragmented pattern of nature reserves.
- socioeconomic scenarios