A new mobile app using lichens to assess atmospheric nitrogen pollution effects has been developed by the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology (CEH). The web-app is based on a field guide produced in collaboration with Natural History Museum, The University of Nottingham, SNIFFER, JNCC, SNH, SEPA and NIEA, and published by the Field Studies Council.
Recent research on UK oak and birch trees identified a set of ‘indicator’ lichens (sensitive and tolerant) with clear responses to increasing concentrations of atmospheric nitrogen pollutants. By identifying the presence or absence of nitrogen sensitive and non-sensitive lichens on tree trunks and branches you can get an estimate of how polluted your area is. Emphasis has been placed on the use of indicator lichens that do not require identification at the microscopic level and that are least likely to be confused with other species. The app includes some simple elements:
- Lichen identification key guide for nitrogen sensitive and tolerant species.
- Simple Recording system for surveying lichens on tree trunks and branches (only five trunks and five branches required).
- Field guide with instructions on carrying out the survey.
- Auto-calculated and robust method to determine nitrogen pollution levels using a standardised nitrogen air quality index (NAQI).
- Informs the public of their local nitrogen air quality based on four pollutant zones - 'Clean', 'At risk', 'Nitrogen Polluted’ or 'Very Nitrogen Polluted'.
The Statutory Nature Conservation bodies have published a framework for UK research and evidence needs relating to air pollution impacts on ecosystems. Evidence and research needs are organised into three high-level themes and linked to policy and operational drivers.
The Framework is designed to be shared and to help inform the work of others with similar interests and responsibilities. It aims to provide a structure to promote discussion on establishing agreed research priorities.
Over the last year we’ve been updating and improving APIS. We’ve updated and improved the Site Relevant Critical Loads tools to include new sites. This now includes data on pollutant concentrations at sites as well as site relevant critical levels for Ammonia, Sulphur Dioxide and Nitrogen Dioxide. We’ve also updated many of the pollutant/habitat records as well as the concentration/deposition datasets.
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Simple Calculation of Ammonia Impact Limits (SCAIL) is a freely available online screening tool to estimate the effect of agricultural emissions on nearby protected areas (e.g. Sites of Special Scientific Interest) or human health.
The updated tool has been developed to evaluate the following emissions:
- Impact of NH3 emissions on protected sites;
- Impact of PM10 emissions on human health; and,
- Impact of odour emissions on nearby receptors.
The outputs from the tool will help the tool’s primary users (environmental regulators, planners, farmers, conservation bodies) make decisions on site development or permit application and the need for abatement measures or to identify whether further, more complex dispersion and deposition modelling is needed.
This project was commissioned by the UK environmental regulatory authorities and the Irish. Further information and the project report is available from Sniffer.
JNCC have published the report of the “Nitrogen Deposition and the Nature Directives Workshop” held in December 2013 on behalf of the UK Government and Devolved Administrations.
The report provides an overview of the presentations and discussions concerning the two themes of the workshop:
Theme 1: Reporting and assessment of nitrogen deposition impacts; and
Theme 2: Knowledge sharing of practical solutions to reduce nitrogen deposition impacts
A series of accounts of the findings and recommendations of the workshop’s working groups is also provided in Appendices 1-7. The conclusions and recommendations from the workshop groups are also summarised.
The workshop background papers and presentations are available at http://jncc.defra.gov.uk/page-5954.