Developing practical guidance on assessing air quality regulation as a service from nature

Developing practical guidance on assessing air quality regulation as a service from nature

Air pollution is an acute environmental pressure that affects human health, interacts with climate change, and impacts biodiversity and sensitive ecosystems at a range of scales. It can also increase susceptibility to respiratory conditions like COVID-19.

Remediation by natural vegetation can cost-effectively reduce air pollutants from different sources (industry, etc.), lowering risks to both human health and biodiversity. However, practical tools for non-specialists on measuring and communicating the benefits of air quality regulation provided by natural ecosystems at site-scale are – to our knowledge – still lacking.

There is a need to create guidance on quantifying air quality regulation under different land-uses or management options at particular sites, to support evidence-based decision-making in conservation, restoration and sustainable management.

Project Aims

We will expand the scope of the Toolkit for Ecosystem Service Site-based Assessment (TESSA; by developing a module for the ecosystem service of air pollution removal by vegetation. It will include accessible, practical guidance and methods for non-experts to assess air quality regulation at individual rural or urban sites, and how this service may change under different land-use or management regimes.

The results generated from applying this module would inform local and national decision-making, and would support implementation of multiple international conservation targets and goals (e.g. the post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework, UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration goals, pandemic treaty ‘One Health’ approach, SDGs, UNFCCC, etc.).

Key Activities

  • Organise an expert workshop to help shape the guidance.
  • Undertake a literature review on air quality regulation. [does this come first?]
  • Develop and run atmospheric meta-models to calculate the pollution removal by vegetation and the associated benefits to people.
  • Make the models applicable to the site-scale in both rural and urban vegetated areas.
  • Create the guidance on applying the pollution removal model to quantify the biophysical value of this service at site-scale
  • Construct an excel tool enabling users to assess the consequences of different management or land-use states of a site on this value
  • Disseminate information on the new TESSA module to enable better-informed decision-making.

Conservation Impact

  • Application of the new module would lead to increased evidence-based recommendations for pro-nature solutions and policies that benefit biodiversity and human health and well-being.
  • Better-informed decision-making (e.g. in public policy, private sector actions) that takes account of the net impact of different management or land-use options.
  • Further conversion of natural habitats would consequently be reduced, resulting in enhanced air quality and an increase in other services. This will ultimately lead to improving human and ecosystem health.


  • A new TESSA module with guidance on assessing air quality regulation at site-scale in rural and urban areas, including practical assessment methods that would be suitable for piloting in a subsequent phase of work.
  • Increased capacity and knowledge of project participants and end-users through workshops and presentations.
  • Communication of the module on the TESSA website, social media and other institutional networks.

Project Overview

Type: Funded Projects
Project code: CCI 05-21-006
Status: Active

Project team

CCI partners Involved

Other Organisations Involved

  • UK Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (CEH) (Edinburgh and Midlothian)
  • UK Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (CEH) (Bangor)
  • Tsinghua University (Beijing, China)
  • University of Southampton, School of Biological Sciences