Agriculture and nature have gone hand in hand in Drentsche Aa National Park for centuries. It is in this area that farmers are particularly concerned about the future of their business, because the nitrogen precipitation must be reduced the most in the vicinity of nature reserves, according to the government’s nitrogen targets.
The much-discussed nitrogen map that the cabinet presented in June has given farmers in the Drentsche Aa area considerable headaches. According to the map, nitrogen emissions must be reduced by more than 70 percent around Natura 2000 areas.
Professor of landscape history Theo Spek of the University of Groningen stands up for farmers. He also lives in the national park and knows the Drentsche Aa area well. “If you want to preserve the landscape here, you need the farmers.”
According to Professor Spek, this landscape with stream valleys, ash trees and meadows was created in the Middle Ages. Farmers have occupied a prominent place in the Drentsche Aa area for hundreds of years and that combination of nature and agriculture is still there today.
Spek: “The grasslands that you see everywhere here have always been mowed by the farmers. Cows still walk here to graze the nature reserves. That is the case in more places in the Netherlands, but especially in the Drentsche Aa. The farmers are indispensable here. “
Dairy farmer Gert Jan Warringa from Nooitgedacht has his dairy farm in the middle of the Drentsche Aa National Park and his vast meadows are surrounded by nature. He calls the nitrogen plans ‘unfeasible’ and ‘unrealistic’. “If these plans go ahead, I can stop my company.”
If it’s up to him, the stick targets will be removed from the table as they are now. “The solutions that farmers have come up with are simply ignored by the government. Of course farmers can reduce emissions a bit, but at the moment you have to adapt your entire company and that costs time and money.”
Watch a report about the increased concerns in the Drentsche Aa nature reserve: