Damage to forests from air pollution will cost Europe at least $30 billion a year for the next century unless governments take urgent steps to cut emissions, according to an international survey.

"Our conservative estimate is that sulfur pollution alone is costing Europe $30.4 billion per year in forest losses," Professor Sten Nilsson of the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis said."Only quick action to make drastic cuts in emissions of sulfur and other major air-borne pollutants will begin to make a difference," Nilsson added.

"And even then it is probably too late for some forests in Czechoslovakia and the eastern regions of Germany, which will simply die over the next decade."

The IIASA survey said Germany, Poland and Czechoslovakia would be the worst hit by damage from air pollution and that current government efforts to curb it would not be enough.