In many countries there has been much concern over maintaining biodiversity in natural ecosystems in the face of pressures such as changing land use and pollution. The 1992 UN Convention on Biodiversity calls upon signatories to develop national strategies for the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity. In the UK, the potential impacts of sulphur and nitrogen deposition at the national level are being assessed using national critical loads and modelled deposition maps, together with available information on the occurrence of habitats and plant species. This simple approach gives an indication of the areas where atmospheric deposition may have impacts on biodiversity. The results of the analyses are presented and the strengths and weaknesses of the methods used are discussed. This first approach to considering the effects on biodiversity shows the importance of including the effects of atmospheric deposition in any biodiversity action plan. It also highlights those areas where more or improved information is required for the national strategy. With the modelled deposition data available, it would seem that reduced impacts are to be expected by 2010. However, higher resolution deposition data, better estimates of ammonium deposition, consideration of temporal aspects and the dynamics of change, and the use of higher resolution biological data sets are likely to suggest greater impacts than current predictions.