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Dutch Nitrogen Tour

Dates: 23 - 25 November 2015

Location: Provinces of Drenthe and Overijssel, the Netherlands


Nitrogen deposition is a major challenge for the management and conservation of many habitats in the Atlantic Region. Not only does it pose a great challenge to the authorities and site managers in terms of maintaining or restoring favourable conservation status of nitrogen sensitive habitats and species, but measures to reduce emissions also reduce the opportunities for economic development.

General emissions policy across sectors has resulted in a significant reduction in nitrogen deposition since the 1980ies. Emissions are expected to further decline until 2030 under general national and EU emissions policy. However, the deposition rates are still far too high to re-establish favourable conservation status in 117 Natura 2000 sites in The Netherlands.

Under the traditional approach, appropriate assessments for the expansion of economic activities surrounding Natura 2000 sites sensitive to Nitrogen are resulting in many rejections of planning applications. This causes much discontent in the agricultural (and other) sector(s).

In order to try and reconcile conservation objectives and economic development in and around Natura 2000 sites, an integrated approach to Nitrogen (PAS, Programmatische Aanpak Stikstof) has been developed in The Netherlands. This approach has started to be implemented in 2015.

The approach rests on two pillars:

  1. Reducing point based emissions from agriculture, transport and industry through on-site measures
  2. Reducing the effects of Nitrogen deposition in Natura 2000 sites through appropriate restoration and management measures

The central concept of the approach is that the projected Nitrogen reductions until 2030 will on the one hand improve the abiotic conditions in the Natura 2000 sites but that they will also create some room for economic development. That is to say, some of the achieved reduction in Nitrogen deposition will be given back to the economic sector allowing it to grow and expand.

Introducing the participants

In advance of the Dutch Nitrogen Tour, the Dutch Bureau for the Integrated Approach to Nitrogen (PAS Bureau) has interviewed a number of participants asking them about their professional involvement in Nitrogen related issues and about their expectations from participating in the tour.

You can read these interviews here:

Workshop Content

This two-day thematic Networking Event (in the shape of a study tour) will showcase a number of innovative approaches to reduce the emissions of nitrogen from intensive animal husbandry and mitigating the effects of Nitrogen on sensitive habitat types selected for priority consideration in the Natura 2000 Biogeographical Process. It will mainly consist of a series of field visits over a two-day study tour alternated with presentations.

The visits and presentations in the field will cover the following aspects of the Dutch Nitrogen policy implementation:

  • Context and history of the Integrated Approach to Nitrogen
  • Nitrogen emission abatement measures
  • On-site restoration and management measures
  • Modelling Nitrogen emissions and deposition (AERIUS tool)
  • Progress monitoring and evaluation
  • Nitrogen emission in the context of appropriate assessment and issuing planning permits

Target Audience

The workshop / study tour is directed at policy makers, civil servants  and site managers from the Atlantic Biogeographical Region Member states where Nitrogen deposition is an increasing issue.

Expected results

The study tour will result in a better understanding of the Dutch approach to Nitrogen and allow policy makers and site managers in Northwest European countries in the Atlantic Biogeographical region to take home and share some ideas and lessons learned that might support the further development of their own approaches to the Nitrogen issue.

Read the results of the tour here.


The study tour will be organised by ECNC in close cooperation with:

  • Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs
  • PAS Bureau (BIJ12)
  • Province of Drenthe
  • Netwerk O+BN
  • Unie van Bosgroepen
  • Natuurmonumenten
  • Staatsbosbeheer
  • LTO Noord Projecten
  • RIVM


Outline Event Programme

Monday 23 November

Late afternoon

  • Welcome and introductory presentations


  • Dinner

Tuesday 24 November


  • transfer to National Park Dwingelderveld (wet and dry heaths)
  • Short presentations on regional planning, assessment of permits, restoration
  • Excursion to wet heathland restoration LIFE project


  • Transfer to the Natura 2000 testing ground project where on farm integrated approaches to Nitrogen emission abatement are being tested. Short presentations and visit.
  • Hands on workshop on Nitrogen deposition modelling for planning requests (AERIUS)


  • Dinner
  • Presentations on sector specific experiences with the integrated approach to Nitrogen

Wednesday 25 November


  • Transfer to Bargerveen Nature reserve (active raised bogs)
  • Short presentations on Nitrogen deposition monitoring and on on-site raised bog restoration
  • Excursion to on-site restoration works and Nitrogen monitoring field station


  • Short presentation , discussion and conclusions