Large parts of the floodplains in the Dutch Rhine basin can be considered wetlands of international importance. Few data are available concerning the threats to these wetlands. Legal protection and the principle of ' wise use' of the wetlands, as stipulated in the Ramsar Convention, are hardly being implementated in national and local policies. Until 1993 none of the floodplains in the river basin has actually been designated as wetland of international importance. In zoning plans the ' wetland function' is hardly ever recognized as the main function. A relatively small part of the river floodplains is designated as nature reserves or protected areas. More research should be carried out concerning the environmental quality of and ecological standards for wetlands. The physical threats of deterioration, disturbance and fragmentation of habitats deserve special attention. Legal protection and 'wise use' of wetlands in the Rhine basin should be further implemented.