With religious intransigence, the government adheres to the Critical Deposit Value (KDW) as the only “scientific” indicator of a healthy nature. Johan Remix is by no means the only one who thinks we should get away with it. KDW should be nothing more than a risk indicator.
The CDW was set for each Natura2000 area in the Netherlands: the maximum number of kilograms of nitrogen that can be deposited there per hectare per year. “Scientifically established” is always emphasized: CDVs are objective and universally valid, because the result Peer review Search.
The Netherlands itself has modified the standards
This is partly true, although it rarely mentions European critical loads for nitrogen in the Netherlands was adapted by ecologists Han van Duben and Roland Bobink, V A report that is not a peer-reviewed scholarly publication. Dutch CDWs vary from 7 to 25 kilograms per hectare per year, depending on the type of landscape (habitat). Popenk likes to describe nitrogen as a “silent killer” in his non-scientific publications. For an ecologist, it is a strange exclusion of a group of substances that are essential nutrients for plants.
In any case, the manner in which CDWs are used in policy terms, i.e. as an absolute limit on which everything must be locked in respect of nitrogen deposition above, does not follow at all from such research. KDW is a non-critical sedimentation value in the Netherlands, which dominates the nature policy as in any other EU country.
Once by computer model Aerius Total nitrogen deposition calculated for the Natura2000 area is higher than the CDW, and no individual company or farm may have added another gram of deposition—as also calculated by AERIUS, which can’t even provide meaningful data at this level of detail.
Perhaps the unsustainability of this policy will begin to penetrate the House of Representatives now Serial agitator Johan Fullenbrock MOB also went to court to shut down the new House of Assembly building itself due to its associated nitrogen emissions.
Simple: back to one cow per hectare?
Last week, retired environmental officer Johan Sligers came up with a plan for farming that wanted short work of this KDW’s complete technology system serving as the switcher on the nitrogen deposits calculated by AERIUS. A number of high-profile figures, such as former environment minister Jacqueline Kramer and climate cardinal Pierre Velinga, have already backed it.
Sliggers wants a maximum number of animals per hectare of farmland, expressed in large livestock units (LU). LU corresponds to one cow, five pigs or 150 chickens. This density is currently 3.8 LU, and should be back to 2.3 LU.
The basic idea is that agriculture will become “land-tied” again: the animals are fed by the harvest from their land. According to Sliggers, nitrogen emissions from agriculture will be cut in half, meeting the national target for 2030 and the Van der Wal circus can be closed entirely.
Is it about nature or about the norm?
The charm of the Sliggers Plan is its simplicity: it is relatively easy to determine the number of animals and land ownership of any farmer. Also, no farms are to be forfeited, though almost all of them will have to drastically reduce their animal numbers. The main weakness of the plan is that it has nothing to do with nature management and nature restoration.
The justification for the current nitrogen policy is precisely that the Dutch nature, which is on the verge of collapse, must be restored by bringing nitrogen deposition in the Natura2000 regions under the KDW. This general LSU standard provides no guarantee that deposition will be sufficiently reduced there. On the other hand, there will be regions where the GVE standard is too strict to maintain Natura2000 regions there under the KDW. As long as the prevailing notion persists that compliance with the KDW is crucial to the viability of nature, Sliggers’ plan has no chance.
The Veluwe is quite biodiverse
Hence the question: How bad is CDW bypass actually? This is currently the case in about three-quarters of the Dutch Natura2000 regions. And not by little: exceeding 100 percent (10 or 15 kilograms) is not uncommon, and it has been for decades. As an unsuspecting citizen, you might wonder how we can still have nature in the Netherlands at all. However, look at the image below of Veluwe, our largest Natura2000 region on Earth, which is significantly nitrogen-laden.
However, the number of protected species in much of the Veluwe increased or was stable during the period under investigation – in stark contrast to the mantra that if the KDW is overrun, Dutch nature is about to collapse.
It is true that there are also parts of the Veluwe where species diversity is declining, but even that cannot simply be attributed to CDW overruns. Even under ideal conditions, a nature reserve will always show a changing picture due to natural variation.
It couldn’t hurt to go a little overboard
Statistics for the whole of the Netherlands show something similar: there are countless Natura2000 areas with a positive or stable trend in nature quality, where CDW is exceeded by no less than 7 kilos. Thus these zones are doing well even though the nitrogen has been greatly increased. Areas that perform poorly are mostly nitrogen overloaded, but for areas that perform well, nitrogen overload hardly predicts their condition.
This shouldn’t surprise anyone, since it’s already ingrained in the KDW’s definition: that is, “the threshold above which there is a risk that habitat quality will be significantly affected.”
KDW is a paper standard
So there is certainly no such thing as “This killer strikes mercilessly every time KDW is overrun,” which Bobink might have worded had he been allowed to do what he wanted. KDW is the limit beyond which biologists begin to see the harmful effects of nitrogen in a carefully controlled experimental condition.
The effect of nitrogen can only be seen somewhat unequivocally if the CDW is exceeded very significantly, by 100% or more. Even then, this did not mean that the entire region would die out or turn into a sea of nettles, but rather that the number of plant species there would decrease from, say, 20 to 15 species.
For practical reasons, such research, which takes years, is carried out in steps of 5 kilograms of nitrogen deposition. For this reason alone, the boundaries are blurred, hence there is an inevitable natural variation in such experiences. This is why critical European loads are referred to as bandwidth: for example, for a “wet overheated grassland” habitat, this is 10 to 20 kg. This means that it is scientifically inconsequential to give a more accurate value for CDW.
Ditch the Crucial KDW
But what does the Netherlands do? This takes the 10-kilogram minimum as the KDW for overheated, wet grasslands, and so all Dutch KDWs are awarded strictly down to the kilogram, with the only justification being that a strict limit should be placed on granting permits.
It’s no surprise, then, that bypassing KDW in practice doesn’t tell us much about the state of the Natura2000 region. Exceeding CDW should not in and of itself be a reason to ban all nitrogen emissions in the vicinity of Natura2000.
The KDW is a risk indicator for evaluating the condition and prospects of a nature reserve along with all kinds of other factors. This is how they do it in all other EU countries. But they are years behind the Netherlands on nitrogen policy, if you believe the environmental lobbies here.
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