Topic 4 - Clean Air – Ecosystem and Climate

While Sulphur deposition has been very successfully controlled, reductions in nitrogen deposition has been less, and excess nitrogen loading remains a major threat to biodiversity, especially in regions where exceedance is driven by ammonia emissions. Biodiversity concerns have been increasing the latest decades, and national and international policies (like the CBD and the EU nature Directives) put in place to counteract the decline. As a consequence, an increasing part of natural ecosystems have been protected and more adequate management or nature restauration measures put in place for many areas. The relative importance of nitrogen as a pressure on biodiversity is therefore increasing. The session will focus on biodiversity effects and further development of monitoring and research to support effect based policies to control air pollution effects on biodiversity. In addition, links to ozone effects, forest productivity and carbon sequestration are included.

Biodiversity effects and the link to the CBD and the EU directives

Critical loads for N are still exceeded over large regions in Europe, and impacts on terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems have been documented in numerous publications. These impacts have implications also for organisations outside the CLRTAP, such as the CBD and the EU (e.g. Habitats Directive). These links and the future needs and aims for biodiversity impacts modelling and assessment will be discussed.

The future of effect monitoring, including reporting under the EU NEC Directive

Emphasis on biodiversity effects will require adjustments of the monitoring and research activities to ensure sufficient coverage, both geographically, of ecosystem types, and parameters to monitor and model effects. The EU directive on national emissions ceilings (NECD) requires mandatory monitoring on ecosystem impacts (Annex 5). This monitoring is to a large extent expected to be based on the existing monitoring programmes of the ICPs of the CLRTAP/WGE, as well as EMEP monitoring and modelling activities (particularly for ozone). Synergies with new ecosystem research infrastructures (RI) under the European RI framework (ESFRI) are also foreseen, since there could be joint funding/saving opportunities, and co-location of sites. The strategies how to develop this collaboration in short and longer terms will be discussed.

Ozone effects and its links to food production and safety

Ozone critical levels (particularly using the new flux-based approach) are still extensively exceeded in Europe, affecting food production and forest growth, and having also major economic impacts. In some ecosystems, combined effects of ozone and nitrogen loads can be important. Ozone levels are also affected by hemispheric pollution. This (sub) session will discuss new approaches for ozone impacts assessment and related economic damage issues.

Links to forest production and forestry/climate interests

Atmospheric N pollution impacts forest production and thus forest carbon sinks and processes. Furthermore, there is an increasing interest to use forest biomass for bioenergy production, as one climate change mitigation effort. This increasing forest bioenergy use is controversial since there are still major uncertainties regarding the actual climate benefits, as well as documented negative impacts on nutrient balances and increased acidification of forest soils.

Contact persons:
Jesper Bak
Martin Forsius
Isaura Rabago


Outcome of Working Group discussion

Presentation at the Wednesday plenary session

WG4 Clean Air - Ecosystem and Climate summary.pdf Pdf, 88 kB.

Report from the Topic 4 – Ecosystems and Climate

WG4 Clean Air - Ecosystems and climate.pdf Pdf, 404 kB.


Background documents

Peatlands, climate change mitigation and biodiversity conservation

An issue brief on the importance of peatlands for carbon and biodiversity conservation and the role of drained peatlands as greenhouse gas emission hotspots

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