Netherlands' nitrogen targets must be higher: international scientists
Some protected nature reserves in the Netherlands are even more affected by nitrogen than previously thought, NOS reports based on a report by international scientists that will be published later this month. This means that the Netherlands will have to decrease nitrogen emissions even more to achieve its goal of having 74 percent of nature reserves protected from these emissions by 2030, the broadcaster wrote.
NOS found a preliminary version of the UN report on the German Environment Agency’s website. It shows that several habitat types are more sensitive to nitrogen than previously thought. Sources told the broadcaster that nothing would change in the report's content before it is published later this month.
The report sets new limits within which the Dutch nitrogen standard must fall in the future. It concerns the critical deposition value (KDW), which indicates how much nitrogen a nature reserve can take before damage occurs. Ecologists set the KDW on behalf of the Ministry of Agriculture, Nature, and Food Quality. The Dutch ecologists that set the KDW will test their calculations against the UN report.
The report means that for dozens of Dutch nature reserves, the current nitrogen standards are not strict enough. NOS compared the new international requirements with the Netherlands’ current KDW and found that 25 to 30 percent of the Natura 2000 areas don’t fall within the new stricter limits. At least part of all the nature reserves will need more stringent nitrogen standards.
The government aims to have 74 percent of the nitrogen-sensitive Natura 2000 reserves protected against nitrogen by 2030. That means nitrogen emissions in those areas must be below the KDW. The stricter KDW in the UN report means nitrogen emissions must be reduced even more than already planned.
“Those goals will not change, but the background will change. If the KDW becomes stricter, more must be done to achieve the goals, and more hectares of nature must be restored to a good condition,” Chris Backes, professor of environmental law at Utrecht University, said to the broadcaster.
The Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality told NOS that the new report will likely not mean a policy change everywhere because the current policy includes margins for adjustments “to a certain extent.”