The nitrogen strategy and the transformation of the rural areas

Excessive nitrogen deposition in the Netherlands has been a problem for many years. It is harmful for both nature and public health. The Dutch government is introducing measures for industry, agriculture, transport and the construction sector in order to reduce nitrogen deposition and improve the quality of nature areas. 

The Netherlands is also being confronted with climate change and threats to the quality of the soil and water. That is why the government is combining nitrogen measures with other measures to improve the quality of nature, water and the soil, and fulfil the Netherlands’ climate obligations. The aim is to develop tailor-made packages for the different regions, which will lead to healthy ecosystems, clean water and achievement of the climate targets. 

Nitrogen strategy measures

Nitrogen pollution must be reduced in order to improve the quality of nature while at the same time providing scope for various economic activities. This can be achieved through different measures targeting agriculture, industry, construction, traffic and transport. Examples include measures to encourage innovation and the development of more sustainable methods and equipment, but also voluntary buy-out schemes for farmers and electric taxiing systems for aircraft.

Measures to reduce nitrogen deposition and restore nature

Besides reducing nitrogen deposition, nature restoration is also necessary. In particular, water and soil systems in nature areas need to be restored and made more robust.

Regional packages to reduce nitrogen pollution

Besides measures that apply nationwide, it is also necessary to look at what needs to be done in order to restore nature in specific geographic regions. This is because the amount of nitrogen deposition and the condition of nature areas differs from one region to another. Measures that are effective in one region might be less so in another. That is why provincial, municipal and water authorities are working with businesses and nature site managers to develop tailor-made regional strategies. Together, they are taking stock of what needs to be done in their particular region to strengthen natural ecosystems and achieve environmental goals relating to nitrogen, water quality, soil and climate. The solutions they come up with must take into account the region’s characteristics.

Reducing nitrogen deposition from international sources

Nitrogen pollution is not stopped by borders. Sources outside our country play a significant role in nitrogen deposition in the Netherlands. Likewise, activities in the Netherlands also have a major impact on nature abroad. To tackle cross-border nitrogen pollution and improve the quality of nature, the Netherlands also supports efforts at European level and works closely with neighbouring countries and regions, like Flanders and Germany. Dutch border provinces are also involved in bilateral action to reduce nitrogen deposition on both sides of the border. 

Parties are also looking within a European context at how EU policy can optimally contribute to nature restoration and to reducing nitrogen deposition in the Netherlands.

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