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Rules on protection of plant and animal species

This information is provided by

Netherlands Enterprise Agency, RVO

The 2017 Nature Conservation Act regulates the protection of plant and animal species. In some cases you need to apply for an exemption. Read more.

You may not harm animals or plants with your activities. The 2017 Nature Conservation Act and the CITES regulations regulate the protection of plant and animal species. It regulates matters such as management, damage reduction, hunting and trading in and possession of protected species. You need to apply for permission, a licence, or exemption from this Act (in Dutch), which is issued by the Netherlands Enterprise Agency.

You will have to deal with regulations on protected animals and plants if you:

Construction and maintenance

Do you intend to (re)build, demolish, or maintain and manage structures? And are there any protected species present? You need to apply for an exemption to the provincial authority or to the Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RVO, in Dutch).

Outdoor events

If you plan to organise an outdoor event (in Dutch) such as a motocross race, you are obliged to take protective measures to avoid any disturbance of and damage to protected species. For various species there are specific measures to be taken into account (in Dutch). For further information as to what these measures are, please contact the Netherlands Enterprise Agency.

Code of conduct

Do you work with an approved code of conduct? You do not need dispensation for some activities in nature conservancy areas as you are exempt.

Compensation restricted areas

When an area has been designated as a restricted area, you may suffer damage, for instance because you have to relocate your farm. In that case you may apply for compensation to your provincial authority.

Trading, owning, or transporting protected plants and animals

Do you trade in, own or trsnsport protected plants or animals (or their parts or products)? In some cases you need dispensation for the possession and transport of protected animals and plants (in Dutch).

Does it concern CITES species? You may require an EU certificate or CITES permit. You must comply with CITES regulations. You may for instance need to register some of these species.

Bred animals

Do you intend to keep or transport bred animals? For primates, hawks, and feline predators (Felidae) you must apply for dispensation (in Dutch). If you breed protected native or exotic birds, these birds must be fitted with a leg ring.

Education and research

Sometimes your activities can be harmful when you are active in education, research, repopulation, or reintroduction of protected animal or plant species. In such cases you need an exemption. You can apply for this exemption to RVO (in Dutch).


Are you a hunter? You will need a hunting licence. You are only allowed to hunt specific species during a specified period (hunting season). Do you hunt with a peregrine falcon, hawk or Harris’s hawk? You need a falconry permit (in Dutch).

Preparing animals (taxidermy)

It is prohibited to prepare certain protected animals. For some animal species an exemption applies.

Sheltering protected animals

Do you want to shelter protected animals? For instance hedgehogs, seals or roe deer? You will need dispensation.

Harmful exotic species

You are not allowed to keep, grow, breed, transport, import or trade in harmful exotic plant or animal species. Check this list of Invasive alien species (in Dutch). These species may only be kept for specific purposes, for example scientific research. In that case you will need a permit from the Netherlands Enterprise Agency (, in Dutch).

Feeding deer and boars

Feeding red deer, fallow deer, roe deer and wild boars is prohibited. However, in case of special weather conditions or a temporary food shortage, you can apply for an exemption to your provincial authority.

Please note: the technical requirements imposed by the Netherlands in respect of some protected animal and plant species differ from those of other EU Member States. If a protected animal or plant species is already allowed in another EU Member State, the Netherlands may ban its sale in the Netherlands only in exceptional cases.

Online application procedure via Message Box

Using Message Box, you can apply digitally for an exemption or dispensation to the Netherlands Enterprise Agency or the provincial authority. Message Box is a secure email system that enables you as an entrepreneur to exchange digital messages with Dutch government agencies.

At the province of Noord-Brabant you can also use Message Box to apply for dispensation on the protection of native species, as well as an exemption on feeding animals and for compensation restricted areas.

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This information is provided by

Netherlands Enterprise Agency, RVO
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