Experts warn of huge upcoming wildfire risk in NL: “Uncontrollable”

Wildfires will become more uncontrollable and occur more frequently in the Netherlands. That’s why the government needs to come up with a plan, ASAP.

This is the conclusion of research done by experts from KNMI (Dutch Royal Weather Institute), Wageningen University & Research, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, Deltares and the NIPV (Dutch Institute of Public Safety).

“We are going to experience more of this, and it may happen in the short term,” researcher Hans Hazebroek from the NIPV tells the NOS.

It’s getting hot in here

The risk of wildfires is growing faster than the climate is changing.

Because temperatures are rising and nature is drying up, more vegetation will become flammable. 

Yep, those beautiful tree-lined cycle paths? They could be ablaze. Canopied forests that you wander through leisurely? They’re also the perfect recipe for a fire. 

According to the researchers, wildfires in the Netherlands can quickly have devastating consequences due to the dense infrastructure of the country.

The country’s concentration into dense cities will lead to more frequent wildfires, causing evacuations and affecting vital infrastructures.

Density poses a problem

When it comes to wildfires, the proximity we all love so much could become our biggest downfall. 

In the Netherlands, nature, agriculture, recreation, living, railways, and healthcare tend to be condensed in specific places. And by “specific places,” we mean the beautiful Dutch cities.

On the contrary, much of the energy supply is located in nature, where we find high-voltage cables and switching stations. 

Simply put: the design of the country causes a huge risk for the rapid spread of wildfires. And that’s why experts are calling out a national “wildfire signal” and are nudging the government to take action, ASAP. 

So, what’s the plan?

Anton Slofstra from Brandweer Nederland (Fire Brigade Netherlands) believes that the Netherlands needs a set of measures to prevent potential wildfires. 

What could this look like? Much like the obligations for buildings, he says. “We can only successfully extinguish a fire if a building meets building regulations. You actually miss regulations like that in nature. As a result, very large parts of nature can just burn out.”

READ MORE | It’s official: the land of dikes and canals has a water shortage

Due to their long-lasting and large-scale character, wildfires can easily overwhelm the fire brigade. Therefore, the institutes warn that more firefighters and equipment would be needed to face large wildfires. 

It is also necessary to gain more knowledge about smart landscape design, and how to make wildfires more manageable.

Delta plan

The NIPV and Brandweer Netherlands both feel the need for a Delta Plan for wildfires, much like the plan that the Dutch government has come up with to protect against a flooding disaster.

READ MORE | Why the Netherlands isn’t underwater (VIDEO INSIDE)

Slofstra believes that if we think far ahead, we can make significant landscape changes that will aid in the prevention of large wildfires. “We have to start now,” he emphasizes, to see the start of results in the coming years.

What do you think about the Netherlands’ increased risk of wildfires? Tell us in the comments.

Feature Image:Depositphotos
Lyna Meyrer 🇱🇺
Lyna Meyrer 🇱🇺
Say 'hoi' to Lyna, our Senior Writer at DutchReview! Fueled by a love for writing, social media, and all things Dutch, she joined the DR family in 2022. Since making the Netherlands her home in 2018, she has collected a BA in English Literature & Society (Hons.) and an RMA in Arts, Literature and Media (Hons.). Even though she grew up just a few hours away from the Netherlands, Lyna remains captivated by the guttural language, quirky culture, and questionable foods that make the Netherlands so wonderfully Dutch.

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