Tackling nitrogen deposition in natural areas requires an integrated approach
The Dutch integrated approach to nitrogen (or PAS, from the Dutch Programmatische Aanpak Stikstof) was the subject of a two-day study tour in the north-east of the Netherlands from 23 to 25 November. Forty participants from Belgium, Denmark, Ireland, the Netherlands and the UK visited two Natura 2000 sites affected by high levels of nitrogen deposition and a dairy farm applying innovative management measures for emission reduction, as part of the Natura 2000 Field Trial Project. The visits were introduced by a series of presentations on the policy background, sectoral approaches and site and farm management measures.
The three key elements of the Dutch approach are nitrogen mitigation, increasing habitat resilience through restoration, and creating room for economic development. Underpinning this approach is an online, open source tool, AERIUS (full version also available in English), that allows all users to calculate the impacts of development projects (such as a road or a barn) in terms of nitrogen deposition on neighbouring Natura 2000 habitats. For policymakers and regulators, AERIUS also allows the cumulative impacts of different plans and projects to be monitored and the registration of all planning permit applications. As part of this study tour, participants were also given a first introduction on how to use this tool.
Aspects of the Dutch approach that particularly interested the participants were the challenges posed by the continued high rates of deposition, the opportunities of farm management to reduce emissions, the success of science-driven restoration strategies as coordinated by the OBN network, and the high levels of financial support available for restoration under the PAS.
The study tour was organized by ECNC, as part of the Natura 2000 Biogeographical Process.
The Natura 2000 Biogeographical Process is an initiative of the European Commission. ECNC is the lead contractor to support the EC in the development and implementation of the Process. ECNC does this with support from sub-contracted consortium partners (CEEweb for Biodiversity, Eurosite, the European Landowners Organization, the EUROPARC Federation, and ILE SAS).