On February 13th, I attended a talk by Geert Timmermans is one of 8 city ecologists that are employed by the Amsterdam city council. This in itself shows how committed the city of Amsterdam is in the preservation of the nature within the city.
The surrounding area of Amsterdam that is covered by the Amsterdam city councils is around 400km2 and contains around 10,000 types of animals. You may think what kinds of flora and fauna could possibly live in such a densely populated city? There are 300 types of birds, 1500 toadstools, 1200 kinds of plants, 35 kinds of mammals, 3 sorts of reptiles & 8 kinds of amphibians, 75 types of fish &15 kinds of shell fish, 120 kinds of mollusks, 40 kinds of butterflies and 90 kinds of wild bees, 35 kinds of dragonflies, 15 kinds of crickets, 5 kinds of roaches, 15 kinds of ants and many more kinds of bugs.
The city’s recent policy on the reduction of pesticides in public places has helped increase the insect population, raising the population of bird kinds, which in turn has increased the population of predatory birds within the city. This essentially will bring the bird population back into a more natural balance by creating natural predators.
Many birds enjoy the city conditions due to the plentiful food sources, warmer temperatures, and plentiful nesting spaces. Some water birds use our plastic trash in their nests which to us seems sad but to them is a waterproof source of protection and insulation for their eggs. It is not uncommon to see plastic cups or crisp packets in the nests of water birds and black birds.
There are also as many as 10,000 grass snakes that live in Amsterdam – you can see where and what other kinds of animals you can easily spot on a sunny day here
As the waters around Amsterdam become increasingly cleaner, as highlighted in 2012 when Queen Maxima swam in it for charity, we’re seeing more types of fish and the occasional seal. Larger land mammals, such as foxes, are also coming into the city from the outer areas too as their populations are increasing elsewhere.
How do they get into town you may ask? Yes they do have some hindrances in the city, such as road accidents and being unable to climb out of canals. The Amsterdam city council has set up a number of ecological city passages and structures. These include fauna passages, fauna ledges, fauna exit sites, and fauna gutters as well as squirrel bridges and fish passages.
If you see an area where you frequently see road kill squirrel or hedgehogs then you can also alert the council about this and they can investigate if a bridge or tunnel is required.
This link shows you where these are
To read more (in DUTCH) about Amsterdam ecology you can buy Geert Timmermans co-author Amsterdamse beestenboek
There is also an upcoming film about Nature in Amsterdam called 'De wilde stad' or the wild city It will be coming out in cinemas soon: