Nature and agriculture cannot live without one another
Let us be clear from the start: For the FNP, nature and agriculture go hand in hand. The last few years have been quite turbulent. For the FNP, the priority is that Fryslân has to remain the agricultural province of the Netherlands. However, we do not close our eyes to the developments and changes all around us. The agricultural sector plays an essential role in our community, for our people, but also for biodiversity, nature and the landscape. And the sector has even closer ties to the local communities. Farmers provide the tractors that pull the floats at the annual village fête, and help collect paper for the local music band. That is an interrelationship we have to cherish.
In 2019, it was the FNP that foresaw problems in this area and that pleaded for changes. Changes not based on coercion, but on voluntariness. Fryslân wants to lead the way: ‘Allow the farmer to be a winner again.' We have seen the agricultural sector getting bogged down by a system of maximisation and regulations. The FNP already started developing a plan for a more extensive sector (with a circular, biodynamic and land-based agricultural system) based on a sound revenue model. We want to continue supporting that plan, but obviously, it is up to the farmers themselves how to run their business. Where provincial land is concerned, the Province gets to make the decisions on its use now and in the future. Conditions can be set on how the land that is leased out to farmers can be used.
The role of consumers and the community
This also requires changes on the part of the consumer, the financial sector and mediators. Products have be priced in such a way to reflect their value. With shorter lines from farm to fork. We see that consumers are making more conscious decisions and that more farmers have a second line of income, for instance with a farm shop. We want to allow maximum room for farmers to develop that second or third line of income. Examples are farm recreation - that can also boost the quality of life in countryside communities -accessible care facilities, energy generation and maybe the most important of all: the generation of ecological value and biodiversity, which helps conserve and preserve the landscape. Within the Provincial Executive, the FNP wants to be a trailblazer, bringing producers of Frisian products into contact with purchasing organisations of large companies and institutions. Being proud of your own products is one thing, but actually getting them out there can make a difference.
Fryslân: front runner in agricultural nature conservation
In addition to conservation of the landscape that is so typical for Fryslân, a healthy soil, clean water and biodiversity are basic principles for agricultural nature conservation for the FNP. It is important to emphasise that Frisian farmers are at the forefront of this trend already. The FNP is very proud of the great strides farmers have already made with their agricultural nature and landscape conservation methods (Agrarisch Natuur- en Landschapsbeheer, or ANLb), a form of environmentally sustainable farming where part of the farming business consists of landscape and nature conservation activities. The Province will have to enter into a strong dialogue with Europe and the national government about how to further stimulate the work that is done by the Kollektiven Beried Fryslân (Collective Committee) and the affiliated collectives and agricultural nature organisations. European funding is important to safeguard and expand, amongst other things, godwit preservation areas, hedgerows and alder groves for farmland birds. We have already seen positive results on the West Frisian islands, the north-west (Bouhoeke), the south-west (Greidhoeke) and also the mid-south areas (Feangreide), and also in the woodland area bordering the province of Drenthe (Drintsk-Fryske Wâld).
Combating nitrogen pollution and improving water quality
The FNP supports the Frisian plan to combat nitrogen pollution. We are of the opinion that there are some goods examples and projects carried out in our province already. One example is the voluntary emission reduction on the island of Schiermonnikoog. Companies who have already made the transition should not be negatively affected by the new plans. As part of processes in place we have to work together to achieve the targets that have been set. And that also requires trust. No forced dispossessions because of the nitrogen-reduction measures. Other sectors, such as construction, traffic, industry and aviation - and of course our residents - will have to take responsibility. Nitrogen reduction is not the only challenge we are facing; water quality is also a priority. Clean water, water retention in periods of drought, and combating salinisation, are part of this water plan. We promote the phasing out of pesticides and, at the same time, the introduction of alternatives. The FNP wants to prevent the constant introduction of new and more difficult rules and regulations. We have to make sure that we have good schemes and systems in place, so that everyone knows what to expect and to ensure that Fryslân remains the agricultural province of the Netherlands.
Fryslân - the land of the farmland birds
We want to continue the program for the protection of our farmland birds and increase biodiversity. The Netherlands Nature Network has to be completed. The farmland bird protection partners that are part of this subsidised network will be offered one free upskilling course per contract period. We have to work together to ensure that Fryslân preserves and, where possible, increases the farmland bird population (lapwings, godwits etc.).
The FNP also has attention for the cultural-historical elements in our landscape. Hedgerows and alder groves, and other landscape elements, tell the story of our past. Once they are gone, it will be hard to reintroduce them again. Therefore, the FNP wants to introduce subsidies to make these important elements that have disappeared visible again in the landscape. The FNP also wants to further develop a biodiversity restoration plan with the other Frisian authorities. We want to keep a healthy relationship with our nature conversation and preservation organisations that receive provincial funding. They are the ones that, together with the agricultural sector, protect our nature. After-care workers are of course also very important, and after-care has become part of the immaterial heritage for a reason in 2022.
In the most utopian scenario, nature can retain a good balance all by itself. However, in a landscape like the one we have in Fryslân, nature sometimes needs a helping hand. That helping hand is required in the preservation of our woodlands and in maintaining a good population balance for some animals. In some cases, the hunting of predators and other animals that can cause a lot of damage must be allowed. For some plants, the same applies; active control is required, for instance to combat swam stonecrop (Crassula helmsii), giant hogweed or other invasive introduced species, as they harm the local biodiversity. We also want to continue and expand the number of pilots combating stone martens. We want to keep the current predator policy in place, with customisation where necessary.
Since 2018, we have seen more wolves in Fryslân, and since the summer of 2022 wolf packs have formed along the border with Drenthe. Some people see the wolf as a mighty animal; for others it is a veritable nightmare. The FNP wants to set up a lobby to ensure the protection status of wolves is lowered. Currently, the animal receives maximum protection at a European, and therefore also a national, level. Like some federal states in Germany and the Alpine countries, the FNP wants to have more opportunities to take action in excessive situations. It will be difficult to stop the wolf from coming here; we cannot simply fence off the entire province. The FNP also wants the existing prevention scheme to apply for entire province; life-stock farmers who want to protect their cattle, must be given both the opportunity and support to do so. With more and more wolves coming from Germany, this will become a necessity as well.