The predicted increases in emissions of primary pollutants in many rapidly industrializing countries may have severe consequences for the health and productivity of forest trees and agricultural crops. This paper presents a review of air pollution impacts on vegetation in developing countries by summarising information describing the direct impacts to vegetation caused by a number of air pollutants (sulphur dioxide (SO2), nitrogen oxides (NOx), ozone (O-3) and Suspended Particulate Matter (SPM)). This information has been collected by experts from a number of rapidly industrializing countries in Asia, Latin America and Africa and includes observations of visible injury in the field and the use of transect studies and controlled experimental investigations to ascribe damage to different pollutant concentrations. The ability to synthesise this information to define exposure-response relationships and subsequent air quality guidelines similar to those established in North America and Europe is assessed. In addition, the use of regional and global models describing pollution concentrations is discussed with reference to assessing the extent of adverse impacts and identifying regions likely to be most at risk from air pollution, both for the present day and in the future. The evidence summarised in the paper clearly shows that current pollutant concentrations experienced in many developing countries, particularly Asia, can result in severe damage to vegetation and that without appropriate control measures such damage is likely to worsen in the future as pollutant emissions increase.
- air pollution
- developing country
- exposure-response relationships
- policy tools
- vegetation effects