• English

ICP Vegetation

International Cooperative Programme on
Effects of Air Pollution on Natural Vegetation and Crops

Chair: Mr. H. Harmens

Head of Programme Centre: Ms. G. Mills

The ICP Vegetation was established in 1987, initially with the aim to assess the impacts of air pollutants on crops, particularly ozone, but in later years also on (semi-)natural vegetation. ICP Vegetation focuses on the following air pollution problems: quantifying the risks to vegetation posed by ozone pollution and the atmospheric deposition of heavy metals, nitrogen and persistent organic pollutants (POPs) to vegetation. In addition, the ICP Vegetation studies the interactive impacts of air pollutants (e.g. ozone and nitrogen) on vegetation in a changing climate, including impacts on biodiversity. The ICP Vegetation is planned and coordinated by a Task Force led by the United Kingdom and has its Programme Coordination Centre at the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (CEH) in Bangor. The ICP Vegetation comprises an enthusiastic group of over 200 scientists from more than 40 countries and is keen to collaborate with regions outside the UNECE region.

Regarding ozone pollution, an important aim of the ICP Vegetation is to develop and validate ozone flux-effect relationships for vegetation. These relationships and associated critical levels above which direct adverse effects on vegetation occur are described in detail in Chapter 3 of the Modelling and Mapping Manual ("Manual on methodologies and criteria for modelling and mapping critical loads and levels and air pollution effects, risks and trends").  Based on the developed flux-effect relationships, impacts of ozone on ecosystem functioning and the services they provide can be determined, for example impacts on food production, carbon sequestration, nutrient and water cycling. 

Every five years since 1990, a survey was conducted on the concentration of heavy metals in naturally growing mosses. Since 2005, the nitrogen concentration in mosses was also determined and in 2010 a pilot study was conducted on POPs. The moss survey enables the assessment of spatial variation and temporal trends of atmospheric deposition to vegetation at a high spatial resolution. To stimulate participation of countries in Eastern Europe, Caucasus and Central Asia (EECCA) and other parts of Asia, the coordination of the moss survey was transferred in 2014 to the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research, Dubna, Russian Federation.

Further information on activities, publications and meetings is available from the Programme Centre.