An international study warns that nitrogen pollution is putting wildlife in Europe at risk. More than 60% of the EU’s most important wildlife sites receive aerial nitrogen pollution inputs above acceptable levels. There is evidence of impacts on semi-natural grasslands, heathlands and forests across Europe. This threat is set to continue unless there is further action on emissions of polluting nitrogen gases.
The study, from the University of York and the Stockholm Environment Institute calls for a unified methodology of assessing the impact of aerial nitrogen pollution across Europe to help in efforts to safeguard significant conservation sites. The nitrogen impacts on plant species are relatively well understood but its effects on other wildlife, such as butterflies, and the consequent implications for biodiversity are not so clear.
Concerted action is now needed to link European conservation, air pollution and agricultural policies to ensure that the scientifically established damage thresholds are not exceeded.
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