The potential for spatial planning at the landscape level to mitigate the effects of atmospheric ammonia deposition

U. Dragosits*, M. R. Theobald, C. J. Place, H. M. ApSimon, M. A. Sutton

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Ammonia (NH3) is emitted mainly from agricultural practices, with NH3 concentrations decreasing rapidly away from sources. As a consequence there is a high spatial variability in nitrogen deposition and its consequent ecological effects in agricultural landscapes that is in addition to differences in sensitivity between habitat types. This variability points to the potential to include spatial planning measures as part of strategies to protect sensitive vegetation from ammonia deposition.

National abatement policies typically include uniform recommendations for technical abatement measures, such as ploughing in manures after land spreading. In this study, the complementary potential of spatial planning to reduce effects on target locations is analysed through model scenarios for an example landscape in central England. Scenarios included defining buffer zones of low-emission agriculture and establishing tree belts surrounding either emission sources or priority areas for the protection of semi-natural habitats.

The analysis showed that tree belts can reduce deposition to sensitive areas, with trees surrounding the sensitive habitats being more effective than trees around the sources. Low emission buffer zones around sink areas also result in useful reductions in N deposition. Smaller nature reserve sites benefit to a greater degree from such spatial planning measures, as large reserves can provide their own buffer zone to some degree. Similarly, relocating point sources or using planning policies to ensure the location of large NH3 point sources are at least 2-3 km from the sensitive habitats results in substantial reductions in N deposition. (c) 2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)626-638
Number of pages13
JournalEnvironmental Science & Policy
Issue number7-8
Publication statusPublished - 2006

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • critical loads
  • exceedance
  • pollution abatement
  • agricultural emissions
  • nature protection
  • UK


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