Skip to Content

Air Pollution Recovery Indicators (APRI)

Welcome to the Air Pollution Recovery Indicators (APRI) Project homepage. 

The APRI project, funded by the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra), commenced in March 2023. As the project progresses more information will be made available to you. The project is planned to run until 2025, subject to approval and funding for future phases.


Project details

Over 80% of UK habitat receives damaging levels of nitrogen deposition (Rowe et al, Trends report, 2022). Much is known about damaging effects of air pollution on ecosystems and their function. Recovery of habitats and wildlife populations reliant on those ecosystems is much less well understood. This project will aim to address this gap in knowledge.

Phase 1 of the project in collaboration with project partners from Royal Botanic Gardens Kew will explore below-ground aspects such as soil and soil flora and fauna characteristics, including plant-fungal interactions and how they recover from the effects from nitrogen pollution.

Future phases (subject to funding) may include above-ground such as lichen presence/absence and abundance, habitat suitability indices, species' composition and diversity, positive indicator species as well as other novel indices identified during the project. Faunal interactions will be explored including habitat suitability for species' feeding and breeding. This builds on recent work with butterflies and other invertebrates, birds and where possible, other species.

Interactions with climate change, carbon-cycling and ability for ecosystems to mitigate climate change effects could also be investigated. Development of the recovery indicators will rely upon use of long-term data and locations with baselines for a range of air pollution pressures and effects. The project will utilise a combination of:

  • manipulation experiments from long-term monitoring in the UK and abroad; alongside
  • natural experiments where habitats are near emission sources that have changed over time (e.g. closed coal-fired power stations).

It might be relevant to establish new experimental sites, but initial focus will be on re-sampling of existing sites that have historical data.


Project objectives

The objective of this collaborative project is to share expertise and support each other through the partnership to deliver new scientific research relating to air pollution with potential for developing an indicator or set of indicators for ecosystem and species recovery. Three project phases are planned to cover below-ground, above-ground and species, and will be scoped with UK experts. 


Project time series

March 2023: JNCC and RBG Kew partnership agreement signed
Thursley - APRI - sampler .jpg
July 2023: Long term experimental (LTE) plots set up at Thursley Common NNR, Surrey.


Stakeholder engagement

JNCC is keen to engage with any stakeholders who have an interest in this project and are hoping to host a stakeholder workshop in Autumn 2023.

If you are keen to be involved in future events please register your interest.


Project partners

Defra is funding the Air Pollution Recovery Indicators (APRI) project



Royal Botanic Gardens Kew is leading phase 1 of the APRI project.



Imperial College London will be supporting the APRI project.



The Natural History Museum will be supporting the APRI project.



Published: .

Related Categories

Back to top