Provinces unable to tackle pollution in Natura 2000 areas: NOS


The goals set out by the provinces to guarantee biodiversity in Dutch Natura 2000 areas will not be met even if the measures they propose are carried out, an analysis of five provincial nature reports by NOS has shown.

So far only Noord-Holland, Noord-Brabant, Overijssel, Utrecht and Limburg have published their reports, which the provinces are due to hand in to nitrogen and nature minister Christianne van der Wal by July 1.

The provincial reports show that the majority of the natural areas are in a bad way, with nitrogen emission pollution compounded by drought and invasive species, NOS found.

Measures such as planting more trees and stream restoration will  be enough to meet goals in just 14% of the areas while in 21% the outcome is uncertain. In 65% of the areas goals will not be met, even if all the measures described were to be carried out, the analysis showed.

If the European goals to maintain biodiversity in the Natura 2000 areas are not met, the Netherlands will also be in contravention of another EU rule that says the situation in the areas must not become worse.

In the 75% of the areas nitrogen compound pollution will remain a problem but the reports also signal the problematic presence of ‘exotic invasive species’. In Noord-Holland cranberry, chokeberry and swamp stonecrop are forcing out endemic species and in many of the areas the American crayfish has become a destructive and very hard-to-eradicate pest.

In Limburg water quality and drought is a pressing problem in over 60% of Natura 2000 areas.

Conditions in the areas will be helped if plans to buy out 3,000 highly polluting farms located close to Natura 2000 areas, which were recently approved by Brussels, go ahead.

That, too, will be the responsibility of the provinces but may be complicated by the fact that pro-farmers party BBB became the biggest in all provinces at the March 15 vote. The party opposes compulsory buyouts and wants the deadline to cut emissions moved from 2030 to 2035.

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