Temporary Nature / Safe Harbour Agreements
- Temporary nature and save harbour agreements are voluntary tools.
- Limited time period.
- It frees landowners from conservation measures or land restrictions if habitat or populations of the targeted species increases as a result of the actions undertaken during the safe harbour or temporary nature agreement.
- Landowner: is willing to achieve temporary conservation purposes on their property.
- Governments: public administration is the actor who allows this kind of temporary conservations, with specific measures and legislation.
- External evaluator: assesses the value of the rights that are given up.
- Nature consultant: evaluates the nature at the beginning and at the end of the contract and supports setting up of nature targets.
Rights and obligations
Duration of rights
Purpose and application
- It can provide incentives for landowners to use their land awaiting development for conservation purposes. This has been proven in the Netherlands on a case study.
- The legal stipulations of conservation law create the perverse incentive for landowners to take pre-emptive action against protected species and habitats. The temporary support of pioneer species and habitats, can be argued, is in the interest of protecting wild fauna and flora and conserving natural habitats, as compared to the status quo of preventing their emergence on the land in question.
- Landowners voluntarily propose to implement habitat restoration or management measures aimed at species of conservation interest.
- Positive effects can last longer than the lifetime of a temporary nature site.
- While the conservation of ‘ordinary’ biodiversity is often not the primary objective of many nature conservation laws, such as the EU Nature Directives, a more reconciliatory approach towards nature conservation and green infrastructure, which goes beyond the ambit of protected areas, might also serve as a useful catalyst for biodiversity restoration across the wider landscape.
Economic transactions and fiscality
There are no direct costs associated with the temporary nature concept. On the contrary, private landowners save costs by being able to renounce to pre-emptive maintenance measures on their land.
Opportunities for landowners
- Ability to return the property to baseline conditions at the end of the agreement
- Under temporary nature, landowners are no longer seen as the subject of protection rules, but rather as an equal partner at the negotiation table
- Private landowners save costs by being able to renounce to pre-emptive maintenance measures on their land
- If it is required the return of the property to baseline conditions at the end of the agreement, landowners receive a permit that authorizes incidental take of species that may result from actions undertaken by the landowner
Opportunities for conservation NGOs
- They are not directly linked to permit procedures for projects with negative impacts on nature. This means that they can provide a real additional, albeit temporary, benefit for nature conservation
- Otherwise, reluctant owners can be attracted to conservation as legal burdens for conservation are relieved and improve relation to governmental agencies
- It creates more awareness about protected species among developers and builders and therefore induces them to take nature into account in the design and use of their land
- Green management becomes cheaper, healthier and has a good image quality
- No need to invest time and money in preventive exclusion of protected species
- Construction projects without risk of delay due to protected flora and fauna. Nature can be removed as soon as implementation starts
- Giving tangible form to the policy of Corporate Social Responsibility
- A temporary nature reserve contributes to the survival of (rare and protected) plant and animal species
- It is an opportunity to improve the relationship with the people living in the vicinity of your managed site, especially if the temporary nature reserve is open to the public
- Temporary nature can benefit colonization species but does not offer suitable conditions for survival or reproduction on the long-term
- Destruction of the habitat has an impact on non-mobile species, but according to the requirements of the tools the overall population afterwards cannot be smaller than before temporary nature
- Destruction can have a more far-reaching negative impact on species that choose temporary nature for reproduction
- Destruction can cause extinction of species that have no other suitable habitat
- Additional assurances need to be provided to landowners in advance (derogation in advance/agreement), which might conflict with other regulations