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Research to develop a metric for defining changes in biodiversity to inform the UK’s response to a request from the Co-ordination Centre for Effects under the Convention on Long-range Transboundary Air Pollution - AQ0828

In November 2012, the Co-ordination Centre for Effects issued a “Call for Data” requiring countries to compile output variables of soil-vegetation models for habitats within the country. The objective of this study is to help the UK prepare for submitting a response to this Call. The project will establish a suitable “metric” for defining changes in, or loss of “biodiversity”, in the context of the EU biodiversity strategy target to “halt the loss of biodiversity and the degradation of ecosystems services in the EU by 2020”.
Task 1
• Select 3-4 habitats (defined at EUNIS level 3) which will be used in the study to develop a metric. The contractor should provide a rationale for habitat selection. It should include habitats on the following basis:
o the response to nitrogen deposition is well documented and for which currently available soil-vegetation models perform sufficiently well (for example, see Evans et al, in press; Smart et al, 2010).
o the availability of sites (at least two, in protected sites, preferably Natura 2000 sites) for which the chosen soil-vegetation model can be (or has been) calibrated. Suitable sites/habitat combinations may include, for example, ECN sites in Natura areas or other protected areas, or sites in the newly established Natural England Long-term Monitoring Network, or long-term experimental sites. Those which show good correspondence with Annex I habitats or priority habitats (e.g. see correspondence tables at
o preferably with a widespread geographic coverage

Task 2
• Collate information on approaches taken by other Member States, where they have defined metrics or measures to assess impacts on habitats in relation to defined desired status or related work. For example, in Germany and the Netherlands soil-vegetation linked models have been used to calculate critical loads for Annex I habitats (e.g. see van Hinsberg and van Dobben, 2011; Slootweg et al, 2010), and consider whether the approaches are applicable to the UK.
• Collate information on the current soil-vegetation models available in the UK to identify for the selected habitats what response variables/habitat attributes they are able to predict or define the environmental suitability for (e.g. grass:forb ratio, suitability for species) and what the constraints are.
• Briefly review current approaches for defining habitat status/condition and consider approaches for scoring importance of species or other variables for habitats, for example based on species scarcity or ecological function.
• Produce options for an approach defining a metric and provide illustrations. The precise metric may be site specific or may be generic to a habitat type.
• Consult JNCC and the statutory country nature conservation bodies on these options; ensure that the context and purpose is fully described, in order to choose, possibly after refinement, a recommended approach. In their tender, potential contractors should suggest how they will consult the conservation bodies; a workshop is one approach, but contractors may wish to put forward alternatives, such as bilateral meetings with informal inter-agency habitat groups and with JNCC.

Task 3
• Provide a report of Tasks 1 and 2. This report should provide a recommended approach for defining a metric and provide examples of its application and examples of sites at which it can be applied; it should provide a justification of the approach and set it in the context of the objectives for biodiversity of the UK, England and the devolved administrations. The report should provide a short comparison with approaches used by other Members States, highlighting the key similarities and differences and the reasons for these.
Project Documents
• FRP - Final Report : Final report - AQ0828 A biodiversity metric for interpreting outputs of models of atmospheric nitrogen pollution impacts on habitats   (2026k)
Time-Scale and Cost
From: 2013

To: 2013

Cost: £33,475
Contractor / Funded Organisations
Centre For Ecology and Hydrology (CEH)
Air Pollution              
Fields of Study
Air Quality