Balancing conservation and climate change – a methodology using existing data demonstrated for twelve UK priority habitats

M. Sozanska-Stanton*, P. D. Carey, G. H. Griffiths, I. N. Vogiatzakis, J. Treweek, B. Butcher, M. B. Charlton, C. Keenleyside, N. W. Arnell, G. Tucker, P. Smith

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Mitigation of climate change (CC) is a regulating ecosystem service provided by priority habitats that is often co-delivered alongside their conservation of biodiversity. Carefully planned conservation management is thought necessary to support biodiversity adaptation to CC, but could also contribute to CC mitigation. This paper presents a methodology for assessing direct emissions of greenhouse gases (GHG: CO2, CH4 and N2O) from 12 UK priority habitats in 26 Special Areas of Conservation (SAC) using readily available data. Background emissions are estimated on the basis of published field research. The contribution of conservation management to GHG emission reduction is estimated using the IPCC GHG accounting methodology and other methods. Management Data Acquisition surveys carried out at selected SACs provided data on management practises for Scotland and Wales. Climate change mitigation actions identified in this study for priority habitats included livestock removal or change in stocking density, with GHG reduction potential of up to 3 tCO2e/animal/year, afforestation of acid grasslands—up to 19.4 tCO2e/ha/year, wetland restoration—0.3–0.8 tCO2e/ha/year and cessation of moorland burning—6.9 tCO2e/ha/year. Estimated GHG emissions from priority habitats can be used to identify win:win management options that co-deliver GHG mitigation, climate adaptation and conservation benefits for consideration by policy makers and conservation managers.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)76-89
Number of pages14
JournalJournal for Nature Conservation
Early online date3 Feb 2016
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2016

Bibliographical note

We would like to thank the following for their contribution to this study: NSRI at Cranfield University for soil C data in England and Wales, The James Hutton Institute for soil C data in Scotland, the Agriculture Food and Bioscience Institute for soil C data on two sites in Northern Ireland, the Met Office for long-term-average climatic data (UKCIP02), EDINA for raster data of livestock numbers in Great Britain, Dr. Page at Lancaster University for atmospheric N deposition data, Clive Walmsley and Brian Eardley for their valuable assistance in the Management Data Acquisition survey. Finally, we would like to thank DEFRA for their financial support of this work under Project CR0439.


  • Climate change
  • Conservation
  • Greenhouse gas
  • Management
  • Priority habitats


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