People, Environment

UK Air Pollution Turning Countryside to Badlands

UK Air Pollution Turning Countryside to BadlandsUK Air Pollution Turning Countryside to Badlands

Air pollution is having a devastating effect on Britain’s wild flowers by helping nettles, hogweed and other “thuggish” species turn the countryside into “monotonous green badlands”, major environmental groups have warned.

A report by the Plant Link UK network, backed by organizations such as Plantlife, the National Trust, Woodland Trust and Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, found that 90% of heathlands, acid grasslands and  other sensitive habitats in England were suffering because of nitrogen emissions from fossil fuels and fertilizers.

Across the whole of the UK, the figure was 63%, The Independent reported.

Nitrogen is a fertilizer, but plants fare differently depending on the amount present in the soil.

Some 37% of Britain’s flowering plants prefer low nutrient conditions, whereas nettles in particular thrive when there is a lot of nitrogen in the soil.

Trevor Dines, botanical specialist at Plantlife, said, “It is hard to exaggerate what a destructive impact nitrogen deposition is having on our wild flowers and other flora, fungi and ecosystems more broadly.

“Put simply, this report reveals that nitrogen deposition may present a far more immediate threat to semi-natural habitats than even climate change.”

Nitrogen deposition takes place when emissions from transport, power stations, farming and industry–mainly in the form of nitrogen oxides and ammonia–are washed out of the air when it rains or if they simply drift down onto the land.


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