In the past few decades, the construction of roads, waterways and railways has left the natural areas in the Netherlands fragmented, as it were. Wildlife has increasingly become trapped in unnaturally small habitats.

The Dutch Multi-annual Defragmentation Program (or: Meerjarenprogramma Ontsnippering, abbreviated MJPO) takes care of defragmenting nature by installing structures such as ecoducts, ecoculverts, wildlife tunnels and banks along existing infrastructure that are easily passable for wildlife. These structures allow safe crossing for wild boars, otters, deer, badgers, salamanders, frogs and even bats. These efforts will expand the habitat of wildlife while increasing their access to feed and shelter, and improving their chances of finding suitable mates. At the same time, these structures will reduce the number of wildlife casualties due to traffic movement or drowning. In total 554 structures will be realized and 178 bottlenecks between the Dutch main infrastructure networks and the National Ecological Network will be solved.

Partnering to find solutions

Rijkswaterstaat, responsible for the design, construction, management and maintenance of the main road network, the main waterway network and water systems and ProRail, responsible for the design, construction, management and maintenance of the main rail road network are in charge of the MJPO, on the instructions of the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management and under the auspices of the provincial authorities. In this way the program delivers a significant contribution to the National Ecological Network, the Dutch network of existing and new wildlife conservation plans.

Until 2018 and beyond

The program will be completed by 2018, but defragmentation will be an important topic in new infrastructure development projects, warranted by the Nature Conservation Act. The knowledge obtained as a result of MJPO will be shared with the provincial authorities, other nature management and conservation organizations, and foreign organizations that are working on defragmentation projects.

A very good opportunity of that exchange of knowledge is the international IENE conference. Therefore the MJPO initiated the organization of the 2018 conference to be in the Netherlands. Partners were found in the Flemish government and the provinces of Noord-Brabant and Noord-Holland, also very important partners of the MJPO.

If you would like to read more about the Dutch Multi-annual Defragmentation Program, please go to the MJPO website and come and visit our presentations at the IENE 2018 conference!