Nitrogen study raises questions

Members of the House of Representatives demand to know why the ministry of LNV (Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality) refrains from drawing conclusions from a WUR-study on critical nitrogen parameters.
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This may be concluded from a series of parliamentary questions that have been submitted by Laura Bromet (GroenLinks) and Joris Thijssen (PvdA) based on an article in WUR-magazine Resource. The article, published on 16 June, describes a study on a new method to determine nature’s response to nitrogen emissions.

In this study, lead investigator Wieger Wamelink and his team prove that the new method shows an accurate relation between nitrogen deposits and nature quality in 37 out of a total of 61 habitats. Of the 37 habitats, no less than 26 have shown a reduction in biodiversity and evidence of damage even before the currently established critical parameters are reached.

This conclusion, published in the Resource article and confirmed by Wamelink, was omitted in the report’s abstract. The results are, however, mentioned elsewhere in the study. The politicians also cite Wamelink’s statements that similar studies in Ireland, England and the US have led to comparable results.

No consequences

The report was submitted to the House of Representatives in mid-June. In an accompanying letter, Minister Carola Schouten of LNV stated that the report will have no consequences as yet. She claims the results are insufficiently “plausible” for many types of habitats. The politicians who submitted the questions contest this.

According to representatives Bromet and Thijssen, the harsh conclusion in the report ‘will likely have severe consequences’ for the nitrogen emission targets. These targets may well need to be considerably stricter. The politicians still await a response to their questions. A reply will be provided after the weekend, a ministerial spokesperson has said.

In a reaction, Wamelink states that ‘a public-friendly abstract was chosen that could be grasped by a broad audience’. The data and results are provided in the discussion.

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