With 400 inhabitants per square mile, the Netherlands is the most densely populated country in Europe.
Clearly, in a country so densely populated, land is at a premium -- and it has been at a premium for a very long time.
In fact, the Dutch windmill and dyke systems were created to salvage water-logged lands from the sea and from flooding rivers --a program that required a kind of social contract that was reinforced by the Spadelandrecht, ot "Law of the Spade".
The good news is that because Dutch fertility has fallen, some of the more remote lands are now being returned to nature, a phenomenon I first wrote about back in 2009.
The bad news is that the Dutch do not have much experience "re-wilding" lands.
Instead of making a small natural paradise, they have made a hell-scape of misery.
Not only did the know nothings crowd inappropriate animals onto too small a tract of land, they also kept out the predators and hunters needed to control population growth.
In a blow to the rewilding vision of renowned ecologists, a special committee has criticised the authorities for allowing populations of large herbivores to rise unchecked at Oostvaardersplassen, causing trees to die and wild bird populations to decline.
It follows growing anger in the Netherlands over the slaughter of more than half Oostvaardersplassen’s red deer, Konik horses and Heck cattle because they were starving. After a run of mild winters, the three species numbered 5,230 on the fenced 5,000-hectare reserve. Following a harsher winter, the population is now just 1,850. Around 90% of the dead animals were shot by the Dutch state forestry organisation, which manages the reserve, before they could die of starvation....
....From public lookouts, and from trains that skirt its southern border, Oostvaardersplassen in late April looks a bleak and denuded landscape: dead trees collapsed across tightly grazed grass and visibly thin horses and deer. Rangers now move animal carcasses – deliberately left to provide food for everything from beetles to ravens – away from the railway line because of public distress.
Read the whole thing here.
This is not the first time know-nothings have wrecked landscapes and tortured wildlife through criminal mismanagement. The lunatics at LACS did much the same thing at Baronsdown in Somerset back in 2002.