From 26-28 June, the bi-annual ‘Land & Tuinbouwbeurs Oost Nederland’ (Agricultural convention East Netherlands) took place in Bathmen, NL. Four Dutch members of our team participated in the event to carry out surveys and interviews with farmers attending the event. With temperatures quickly hitting 30+ degrees on the first day of the convention, the first day was relatively quiet. Yet, farmers were willing to participate in our research project and, by doing so, help push our data collection forward. They were likely helped by the local delicacies provided at our stand! The subsequent two days were much more well-attended, giving us the chance to carry out surveys with, in total, 105 farmers, and conducting an additional 12 in-depth interviews with farmers attending the event. A big success!
In the weeks leading up to the event, Edwin Alblas, one of our PhD researchers working for the project, took the chance to visit several ENGOs across the country and interview directors and staff involved in the implementation and enforcement of EU nature rules. These in-depth interviews provide detailed and, for our research purposes, valuable accounts of the barriers that exist in the implementation and enforcement of our nature laws. Particular attention was paid here to the role of the Aarhus convention in the work of these organizations, embodying the procedural rights of access to environmental information, participation in decision-making and access to justice in environmental matters. New insights were gained regarding the barriers that currently still exist in exercising these rights, and ideas were shared as to how these barriers may be addressed. Rounding up this short account of our field work in the Netherlands, this 3,5 week trip can be called a major step forward in our data collection process. Next step: data analysis.