Friday 02 December 2022

Nature reserves more vulnerable to nitrogen compound pollution: new report

Some natural areas may need more protection  Credit: Niels van der Pas

A report commissioned by the German environment agency reportedly says some protected nature reserves in the Netherlands are more affected by nitrogen compound pollution than previously thought.

The report means, reports NOS, that ‘nitrogen’ limits need to be toughened up to achieve controversial reduction goals.

Ecological legal experts told the broadcaster that the report, drawn up under UN supervision, has major implications.

Currently, natural areas are given a so-called critical deposit value (KDW) of nitrogen compounds such as ammonia that should not cause damage. This is used to determine which farms and developments can be created nearby.

According to the report, ‘review and revision of empirical critical loads of nitrogen for Europe’, 25% to 30% Natura 2000 areas are under-protected. These European-designated areas of natural importance, should have a 74% reduction in nitrogen-based pollution by 2030 under current government plans.

‘The goals don’t change, but the background does,’ Chris Backes, professor at the Utrecht University centre for water, oceans and sustainability law, reportedly said. ‘If the KDWs tighten up, more has to happen to achieve the goals and more hectares of nature need to be brought back to a good state.’

The agriculture ministry told NOS said it was evaluating the report but did not expect any change in policy. ‘We work on the basis of the best available scientific insights, which can be updated once in a while – that’s the nature of science,’ a spokesperson reportedly said.

Earlier this week, in a meeting between farmers and government negotiator Johan Remkes, there was a suggestion that an alternative measure could be used to the KDW, to account for farming innovations.

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