Ozone pollution endangers Italian forests

(Sustainabilityenvironment.com) – Italian forests are subject to high levels of ozone pollution. For this reason, their economic value has decreased by 10% and the forest area devoted to the production of timber has decreased by 1%. The potential damage could be around EUR 2.85 billion.

These data are reported in the research Economic impacts of ambient ozone Pollution on wood production in Italy published in “Nature Scientific Reports“.

The study was conducted by a research group composed of ENEA, CNR, the University of Florence and the Anglo-French satellite services company ARGANS.

Abandonment of polluted forest areas

The research highlights the fact that the loss of long-term profitability leads to a progressive abandonment of the forest areas most exposed to ozone pollution, with a consequent impact on ecosystem services.

In particular, Italy is considered a key country for studying ozone pollution. The causes are to be found in the high temperature of air and solar radiation, conditions that expose it to greater risk than the colder Northern Europe.

The ozono levels of pollution and the loss of forest area change significantly from one region to another: Sardinia leads the ranking with the greatest reduction of profitable forest area, or 6.2% which corresponds to about 10 thousand hectares. Next, Calabria, Sicily, Tuscany and Trentino Alto Adige.

From the point of view of economic losses, first place is Liguria, followed by Campania, Calabria and Lazio.

But what is ozone pollution?

Ozone is a gaseous pollutant that has negative effects on photosynthesis and therefore on the absorption capacity of carbon dioxide by plants.

The research specifies that ozone damage can also interfere with the health of the different species living in the woods: animals, fungi, bacteria and insects living in close association with plants.

n addition, we calculated the biomass losses with a spatial resolution of 12 km2», explains Alessandro Anav of the ENEA Climate Modelling and Impact Laboratory.

In Italy is mainly produced firewood (5.5 million m3), the pallet (that is, the support poles) amounts to 0.8 million m3, and the round (the round logs felled but not yet processed) for sawmills and paper mills is 0.9 m3.

Ozone pollution has particularly affected the production of firewood and pallets, which have recorded losses of 7.5% and 7.4%, while the loss of Roundwood is less than 5%.

Obviously, the timber crisis caused by ozone pollution also affects employment.

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