Switzerland faces a critical challenge as excessive nitrogen levels jeopardize nearly 90% of its forests, warns a recent issue of FOEN‘s “l’environnement” magazine. The impact is subtle to casual observers, but experts note a concerning trend: nitrogen-loving plants flourish while the overall forest weakens. Long-term consequences include soil acidification, nutrient depletion, and hindered plant growth.
The nitrogen influx, mainly from human activities like industry, traffic, and agriculture, disrupts the delicate balance crucial for trees and soil health. Forests receive an annual average of 19.4 kg of nitrogen per hectare, surpassing UN-ECE thresholds. Notably, the nitrogen pollution, originating mostly from human sources, affects Swiss forests differently across regions.
While measures have improved air quality from nitrogen oxide emissions, the slow reduction in ammonia emissions from agriculture remains a challenge. Strategic interventions, such as covering manure storage and swift incorporation into soil, prove effective. Future regulations, like isolating manure reservoirs by 2030, aim to curb ammonia leaks. However, fostering collective societal efforts to support sustainable agriculture remains the ultimate solution, emphasizing the need to reduce animal density per hectare for the overall well-being of Swiss forests.