The Netherlands is "well known" for its nitrogen problems; it has one of the highest reactive nitrogen (Nr) emission densities in the world. It is a small country at the delta of several large European rivers. Ever since the industrial revolution, there has been a growing excess of nutrients and related emissions into the atmosphere (ammonia, nitrogen oxides and nitrous oxide) and into groundwater and surface water (nitrate), leading to a large range of cascading environmental impacts. Vehicular traffic, sewage and animal husbandry are the main sources of oxidized and reduced forms of Nr. This paper provides an overview of the origin and fate of nitrogen in the Netherlands, the various reported impacts of nitrogen, the Dutch and European policies to reduce nitrogen emissions and related impacts. In addition, ways are presented to go forward to potentially solve the problems in a European perspective. Solutions include the improvement of nitrogen efficiencies in different systems, technological options and education.
- global nitrogen-cycle
- terrestrial ecosystems