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Jax K.,Helmholtz Center for Environmental Research | Jax K.,TU Munich | Barton D.N.,Norwegian Institute for Nature Research | Chan K.M.A.,University of British Columbia | And 26 more authors.
Ecological Economics | Year: 2013

A major strength of the ecosystem services (ESS) concept is that it allows a succinct description of how human well-being depends on nature, showing that the neglect of such dependencies has negative consequences on human well-being and the economy. As ESS refer to human needs and interests, values are to be considered when dealing with the concept in practice. As a result we argue that in using the concept there is a need to be clear about what different dimensions of value are involved, and be aware of ethical issues that might be associated with the concept. A systematic analysis of the ethical implications associated to the ESS concept is still lacking. We address this deficiency by scrutinising value dimensions associated with the concept, and use this to explore the associated ethical implications. We then highlight how improved transparency in the use of the ESS concept can contribute to using its strengths without succumbing to possible drawbacks arising from ethical problems. These problems concern the dangers that some uses of the concept have in obscuring certain types of value, and in masking unevenness in the distribution of costs and benefits that can arise in the management of ESS. © 2013 Elsevier B.V. Source


Holm-Muller K.,German Advisory Council on the Environment SRU | Horst W.,Scientific Advisory Board on Fertiliser Issues WBD | Tauber S.,German Advisory Council on the Environment SRU | Wiesler F.,Scientific Advisory Board on Fertiliser Issues WBD
Berichte uber Landwirtschaft | Year: 2013

Despite notable progress over the last twenty years, the agricultural sector in Germany has not succeeded in realising certain environmental key targets. For example, the target of reducing maximum national nitrogen surplus at + 80 kg N/ha/year is still far from being achieved. Consequently, not only the quality of surface water and ground water is suffering from current nitrogen surpluses, but also targets regarding biological diversity are negatively affected. The Fertiliser Application Ordinance (DüV) is the central instrument for ensuring best practice in fertiliser use and a reduction in nutrient surpluses originating from agriculture. Likewise, the Fertiliser Application Ordinance is the central instrument of Germany's action programme for fulfilling the requirements of the EU Nitrates Directive. The action programme has to be evaluated every four years and, where necessary, updated. The German Fertiliser Application Ordinance was evaluated in 2012 by a Federal Government-Laender Working Group, which concluded emphatically, that additional measures have to be implemented in order to attain the targets. The EU has also clearly highlighted a need for changes. Against this background, and also in view of the far-reaching instances of failure to achieve various national and EU environmental goals, this opinion is being issued by the Scientific Advisory Board on Agricultural Policy and the Scientific Advisory Board on Fertiliser Issues (both based at Germany's Federal Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Consumer Protection - BMELV), and the German Advisory Council on the Environment. These three consultative committees endorse the proposals made by the Federal Government-Laender Working Group as an important step in the right direction. In various areas, the two Scientific Advisory Boards and the German Advisory Council on the Environment consider more far-reaching measures to be necessary. The central recommendations are as follows:An amendment of the Fertiliser Act (Düngegesetz), to establish best practice in direct fertilisation activity, matching the needs of plants and soils in such a way, that adverse effects to the natural environment are avoided to the greatest possible extent. In addition, a legislative basis should be established, allowing to record all relevant nutrient flows (e.g. also digestates from biogas plants and feedstuff) passing the farm gate in a farm-gate balance. 1. While farm-gate balances should become obligatory in the medium-term, in the short term improvements regarding the reliability of currently applied nutrient comparisons should be made. The recommendations by the Federal Government-Laender Working Group represent substantial improvements compared to the current situation: firstly, the recommendations regarding an area-related nutrient balance subjected to a plausibility check, secondly, the proposal to raise the minimum quantity that is booked when calculating nitrogen excretions; and thirdly, the proposal to reduce "unavoidable" nitrogen surpluses. Over the medium-term, however, it must become an obligatory requirement to conduct a farm-gate balance in order to monitor the environmental compatibility of nitrogen and phosphorus management. The legislative and the technical administrative prerequisites need to be established to pursue this aim. 2. Measures regarding a better management of organic fertilisers aimed at preventing nutrient losses. This includes: extension of the prohibition periods for applying organic fertilisers on arable land; extending minimum capacity of storage vessels for livestock manures and digestates, and tightening-up technical requirements (e.g. trail hose or soil injection instead of splash plates) for field application procedures for fertilisers. This would reduce the losses, not only of nitrogen, but also of phosphorus. In the near future, stronger restrictions should be imposed on the application of phosphorus fertilisers for those soils, which are rich in phosphorus, ensuring a well-balanced phosphorus budget, while the phosphorus balance should be negative for those soils in the medium-term (starting from 2020). In the case of optimally-supplied soils, the aim must be to achieve balanced phosphorus budgets by 2020. 3. Better checks on compliance with the Fertiliser Application Ordinance, more severe sanctions in case of contravention, and a more stringent implementation of rules governing the use of fertiliser. 4. In order to make it easier and quicker to adapt to the amended regulation of fertiliser use, the two Scientific Advisory Boards and the German Advisory Council on the Environment recommend to include corresponding investments at Federal level into the agricultural investment support programme of the Joint Task for the Improvement of Agricultural Structures and Coastal Protection (abbreviation: GAK), and into the rural development programmes at the level of the individual Laender. In order to meet these challenges (and others), Germany should make full use of the option, within the context of the Common Agricultural Policy reform, of transferring resources from the first to the second pillar of the CAP. The Scientific Boards view the implementation of the measures proposed as a great chance to make a substantial contribution to accomplish the agriculture-related environmental goals that the Federal Government has set. Source


Salomon M.,German Advisory Council on the Environment SRU | Schmid E.,German Advisory Council on the Environment SRU | Volkens A.,German Advisory Council on the Environment SRU | Hey C.,German Advisory Council on the Environment SRU | And 2 more authors.
Environmental Science and Policy | Year: 2016

The release of reactive nitrogen compounds into the atmosphere, soil and water belongs to one of the biggest environmental challenges in Germany. Consequences are the loss of biodiversity due to eutrophication and acidification of terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems, impaired groundwater quality and impacts on human health. Responsible for the emissions of reactive nitrogen compounds are primarily agricultural activities and combustion processes. A number of European environmental targets and objectives in the context of nitrogen are clearly being missed. It is urgently necessary to increase the efforts to reduce nitrogen emissions and to protect biodiversity and human health. Important processes are a further development of European clean air policies and the implementation of the European Nitrate Directive and Water Framework Directive in Germany. A national nitrogen strategy could be a good starting point to increase efforts to solve the nitrogen problem and for a better integration of existing protection policies. © 2015 Elsevier Ltd. Source

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