A review and application of the evidence for nitrogen impacts on ecosystem services

Jones, L.; Provins, A.; Holland, M.; Mills, G.; Hayes, F.; Emmett, B.; Hall, J.; Sheppard, L.; Smith, R.; Sutton, M.; Hicks, K.; Ashmore, M.; Haines-Young, R.; Harper-Simmonds, L.. 2014 A review and application of the evidence for nitrogen impacts on ecosystem services. Ecosystem Services, 7. 76-88.

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Levels of reactive nitrogen (N) in the atmosphere have been elevated globally by man’s activities, with both positive and negative impacts. Since 1990, N emissions across Europe have declined by around 25% due to emissions controls. Ecosystem services provide a framework for valuing N impacts on the environment, and this study provides a synthesis of the evidence supporting impacts of atmospheric N deposition on ecosystem services. In an ex post assessment for the UK, for six services, we then estimate the marginal economic value of the decline in N deposition from 1987-2005. This decline resulted in a net benefit (Equivalent Annual Value) of £65m (£5m to £123m, 95% CI). The decline in N resulted in a cost (loss of value) for provisioning services: timber and livestock production of -£6.2m (-£3.5m to -£9.2m, 95% CI). There was a cost in terms of reduced CO2 sequestration and a benefit in terms of reduced N2O emissions which combined amounted to a cost for greenhouse gas regulation of -£15.7m (-£4.5m to -£30.6m). However, there were benefits for the cultural services of recreational fishing and appreciation of biodiversity, which amounted to £87.7m (£13.1m to £163.0m), outweighing costs to provisioning and regulating services. Knowledge gaps in both the under-pinning science and in the value-transfer evidence still prevent economic valuation of many services, particularly for cultural services, providing only a partial picture of N impacts which may underestimate the benefits of reducing N deposition.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
Programmes: CEH Topics & Objectives 2009 - 2012 > Biogeochemistry
UKCEH and CEH Sections/Science Areas: Dise
ISSN: 2212-0416
Additional Information. Not used in RCUK Gateway to Research.: Open Access paper - Official URL link provides full text
Additional Keywords: ecosystem function, air pollution, impact pathway, policy, valuation, biodiversity, damage cost
NORA Subject Terms: Ecology and Environment
Date made live: 31 Oct 2013 16:54 +0 (UTC)

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