AERIUS abroad: North Rhine-Westphalia

Sunday, 10 November 2013

An AERIUS delegation, as part of the Natura 2000 programme directorate, conducted a working visit to the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia. During this visit, which was part of a recent series of visits abroad, the importance of a transboundary assessment framework was discussed. Furthermore, knowledge was shared about the methods used for calculating nitrogen impacts.

North Rhine-Westphalia is a strongly urbanised area with high GNP and a large population. The German state contains a number of large cities with high levels of economic activity, such as those in the Ruhr region. Nature is highly concentrated and valuable; land use is intensive and attention has to be paid to divergent interests. With these characteristics, North Rhine-Westphalia differs strongly from the German state of Lower Saxony, which AERIUS and the Natura 2000 programme directorate visited earlier.

Exchanging calculation methods
For AERIUS, the exchange of applied calculation methods took centre stage. North Rhine-Westphalia is currently developing its own assessment framework and assesses the projects’ nitrogen impacts on the basis of limit values.

The AERIUS calculation method was demonstrated, taking developments in greenhouse horticulture as an example. For North Rhine-Westphalia there are plans to build a new greenhouse horticultural complex, which will be one of the largest in Europe. AERIUS Calculator was used to determine the possible nitrogen impact of such a large complex on the environment, in this case the border region near the Dutch city of Venlo.

Map showing the impact of nitrogen deposition from a number of greenhouse horticultural locations in Germany on the Maasduinen area in the Netherlands, as calculated with AERIUS Calculator (fictitious situation).

Transboundary assessment framework
Both parties were enthusiastic about the exchange and would like to work on a transboundary assessment framework. For this autumn, another meeting has been planned. In addition, also the Flemish Government has expressed an interest in discussing such a shared assessment framework.

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