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Key Scottish Environment Statistics 2013

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Sensitive Habitats Exceeding Critical Loads for Acidification and Eutrophication14: 1995-1997 to 2009-2011

Sensitive Habitats Exceeding Critical Loads for Acidification and Eutrophication: 1995-1997 to 2009-2011

Critical loads are thresholds above which the deposition of pollutants causing acidification (sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxides and ammonia) and eutrophication (nitrogen oxides and ammonia) causes significant harm to the environment.15 The pollutants come mainly from industry, transport and agriculture.

Around 60% of Scotland's land area contains habitats sensitive to acid deposition and 55% to eutrophication. Scotland experienced a reduction in acidity exceedance from 68% in 1995-1997 to 36% in 2009-2011, primarily due to reductions in sulphur emissions. This included a 13% reduction in acidity exceedance between 2004-06 and 2009-11. Following a period of increase between 2001-2003 and 2005-2007, nutrient nitrogen exceedance decreased by 10% between 2005-2007 and 2009-2011. However, there was an increase in nutrient nitrogen exceedance from 45% in 2008-2010 to 48% in 2009-2011. Overall, nutrient nitrogen exceedance fell from 59% to 48% in the period 1995-1997 to 2009-2011.16

The EU National Emissions Ceiling Directive sets limits for emissions of ammonia, nitrogen oxides, sulphur dioxide and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) to be achieved by 2010. According to data released from the European Environment Agency (EEA), the UK is meeting these targets. The Gothenburg Protocol (United Nations Economic Commission for Europe, 1999) also sets ceilings for these emissions. The UK ratified the Protocol in 2005.

Source: Centre for Ecology and Hydrology / Metadata