Directive 2001/81/EC and Directive (EU) 2016/2284, which replaced the former one, have the aim to improve not only human health but also the condition of ecosystems across the EU. The Clean Air Programme for Europe includes, in addition to its target to reduce health impacts from air pollution across Europe, a target for a reduction of the ecosystem area subjected to eutrophication from 62% in 2010 to 35% by 2030.

Given the central importance of impacts of air pollution on ecosystems and their assessment under the EU air policy, Directive (EU) 2016/2284 requires that these ecosystem impacts are monitored. Article 9 of the Directive requires Member States to develop and implement a monitoring system which:

    • identifies negative impacts of air pollution on ecosystems (acidification, eutrophication and ozone damage),
    • covers a network representative of the Member State’s habitats/ecosystem types.

Annex V to the Directive sets out a list of optional indicators the Member States may use in implementing this obligation. Member States had to identify their monitoring network and report it to the Commission and the European Environment Agency (EEA) by 1 July 2018. Member States must report the monitoring data collected from the network by 1 July 2019.

Work on monitoring effects of air pollution has also been pursued for many years by the Working Group on Effects of the UNECE Convention on Long Range Transboundary Air Pollution (CLRTAP). It is important to ensure coherence and maximise synergies with this work as well as with ecosystem monitoring carried out under other EU Directives, such as the Water Framework Directive or the Habitat Directive.

To facilitate the implementation of these provisions, the Commission has adopted a guidance notice on ecosystem monitoring under Article 9 and Annex V of Directive (EU) 2016/2284, which has been developed in collaboration with the Member States, the EEA and colleagues from the CLRTAP Working Group on Effects. This Commission notice is available here. In addition, to facilitate the reporting of the monitoring network and of data to the Commission and the EEA, a reporting template has been developed in collaboration with Member States; explanations on how to fill it in are also available here.

All ecosystem data reported by Member States can be found on the Eionet Central Data Repository website, for the network of monitoring sites and for the monitoring data.

A consultancy team compiled the information received in 2018 into a report on the ecosystem monitoring networks and the indicators and monitoring protocols identified by Member States for use. The final report is available here.

As to the monitoring data submitted by Member States in 2019, it has been analysed in a consultancy report. This data will contribute to the establishment of a reference against which future impacts can be compared, provided there is consistency over time in the reporting sites, indicators and an appropriate frequency of the monitoring. However, the analysis of the submitted data shows that, overall, the current network of sites and the reported data are not yet sufficiently representative and adequate to monitor the effect of air pollution on the European ecosystems.