(an overview of the country's environmental problems and solutions – REC 1994)
Global warming is the increase of average temperatures in the lower strata of Earth’s atmosphere that leads to climate change.
Both IPCC and UNFCCC, two international and intergovernmental bodies, have agreed that global warming is causing the sea level to increase. As a consequence, this has resulted in coastal erosion.
This phenomenon can be observed in several places on the Adriatic coast in Albania with the most visible effects near Shëngjin and Golem beaches.
Pollution is the introduction of contaminants in the environment, causing harm, damage, stress and disruption of the systems and ecosystems found in that environment.
Pollution can be natural, like in the case of volcanoes, or may be caused by human activities. The major forms of pollution caused by the latter are:
l Air pollution;
l Water pollution;
l Soil pollution;
l Noise pollution, and;
l Radioactive contamination.
During the communist regime in Albania, the status of the environment was not a government priority, as it tried to lead Albania towards building a heavy industry relying mostly on Soviet and Chinese technology. Therefore, it did not fulfill any environmental protection standards. The result of heavy industry in Albania was air pollution, water pollution, soil contamination, extermination of the flora and fauna near the factories, and direct impact on the health of the populations living near the factories, who were affected by respiratory diseases as well as birth defects.
The fall of the communist regime initiated the shutting of the old factories, thus leaving derelict buildings and tons of poisonous substances in warehouses.
The post-communist period witnessed an increase in air, water, and soil pollution, this time caused mainly by second-hand cars (the ban on car ownership was lifted after the fall communism in Albania). There has also been an increase in consumption and, as a result, more waste, more irresponsible individuals and businesses that illegally dumped waste on fields, forests, rivers, sea and waterways. Finally, noise pollution has increased considerably in the post-communist Albania.
The weak implementation of environmental protection laws and the lack of control over them has paved the way for air, water and soil pollution in Albania. Littering and dumping trash everywhere remains a serious problem nowadays. Parks and forests are often full of illegally dumped trash. There is an old tradition in villages to dump trash in rivers or streams. This has resulted in the contamination of rivers, lakes and the sea. Trash in the water is not just esthetically disturbing, but also gives rise to harmful and dangerous bacteria and algae. The process of trash decay produces a lot of methane, which is deadly for fish and other water creatures, and a greenhouse gas 20 times more powerful than CO2.
Burning of trash has contributed to the air pollution besides the pollution from old cars imported after the fall of communism. Albania is one of the last countries in Europe to allow benzene in gasoline to be sold in the market. This product is a dangerous chemical for the human health.
Deforestation remains Albania's principal environmental problem, despite government afforestation programs. Forest and woodland account for 38% of the country's land use. Soil erosion is also a cause for concern, as is pollution of the water by industrial and domestic affluents. While Albania has a comparatively small amount of renewable water resources at 26.7 cu km, 99% of its urban population and 95% of its rural population have access to pure water.
Albania produced 1,942 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions from industrial sources in 1996.
A total of 2.9% of Albania's lands amounting to 84 ha is protected by environmental laws. As of 2001, 17 of the 3,000-plus plant species in Albania were endangered. Two mammal species and seven bird species were also threatened. Endangered species include the Atlantic sturgeon, Mediterranean monk seal, and the hawksbill turtle.
http://climatecalendar.ca/country/albania – Climate change impacts
Armenia has established a Ministry of Nature Protection and introduced taxes for air and water pollution and solid waste disposal, whose revenues are used for environmental protection activities. Waste management in Armenia is underdeveloped as no waste sorting or recycling takes place at Armenia's 60 landfills. Despite the availability of abundant renewable energy sources in Armenia (especially hydroelectric and wind power) the Armenian Government is working toward building a new Nuclear Power Plant at Medzamor near Yerevan.
These are deforestation, the use of pesticides, erosion, mining, untreated waste and pollution.
Major environmental problems are soil and water pollution, as well as deforestation and overgrazing, provoking erosion and desertification. Major problems to wetlands and waterbirds are water loss, water balance disturbance, soil deterioration, pollution, garbage dumping, over-exploitation, factor of disturbance, invasive species. All major threats to Armenia’s wetlands are human induced: water loss, water balance disturbance, soil deterioration, sedimentation, pollution, garbage dumping, factor of disturbance, deforestation.
The major threats to biodiversity in Armenia are tied to three broad socio-economic, political and institutional root causes. These include: mining, illegal logging, poaching and illegal wildlife trade, overgrazing and overfishing, infrastructure development (pipelines, road construction, etc), and pollution of rivers and wetlands.
These threats lead to habitat degradation, decline of species populations, and disruption of ecological processes - all contributing to an overall loss of biodiversity. Furthermore, the natural environment cannot be disassociated from human activity - the most fragile ecosystems in Armenia are also the most fragile economic areas. Supporting rural livelihood is a critical component of what we do, as well as raising awareness around environmental issues.
In 2000, Armenia's chief environmental problems resulted from natural disasters, pollution, and warfare. A strong earthquake in 1988 resulted in 55,000 casualties. Radiation from the meltdown of the nuclear reactor facility at Chernobyl in the former Soviet Union also polluted the environment. The nation's soil has also been polluted by chemicals including DDT and the Hrazdan and Ares rivers have also been polluted. The war between Armenia and Azerbaijan has strained the country's economy, limiting the resources that can be devoted to environmental preservation. It has also led to an energy blockade that has caused deforestation as trees are cut for firewood. Yet another environmental hazard is the restarting of the Metsamor nuclear power plant, which has been brought online without the safety systems recommended by the IAEA.
From 1990–1995, deforestation occurred at an average annual rate of 2.69%. As of 2001, 7.6% of the total land area in Armenia is protected. Also as of 2001, 4 of the nation's 84 species of mammal were endangered, as were 5 species of bird and 3 species of reptile. Endangered species include the Barbel sturgeon, Dahl's jird, and the field adder.
The spectrum of ecological problems of Armenia is varied. Many of them have transformed from the past, found new quality and are of a certain danger for the sustainable and safe development of the republic. Among them are land degradation, ecosystem safety, biosafety and biodiversity management, sustainable use of the forest and water resources, environmentally sound waste management, control over the air pollution, mitigation of the climate change impact and adaptation measures on preventing and mitigating environmental risks. Strengthening of capacities of all environmental institutions on national and local levels in the country including trainings for professionals, knowledge of the best experiences is another issue concerning environmental security.
Among the ENVSEC priorities is the Lake Sevan rehabilitation problem. The Law on Lake Sevan (2001), as well as the laws on annual and complex programmes for restoration, reproduction and use of Lake Sevan ecosystem (2001) were passed in the National Assembly (parliament). A number of sectoral policies, strategies and action plans have been adopted in the country, e.g. Related to biodiversity, protected areas, desertification, forest resources management, water resources management, environment and health, etc.
The Lake Sevan (Gegarkounik region) is the high-mountain reservoir of drinking water, which has significant national and regional importance. During 2000-2008 years, the level of the lake rose by about 3m and reached to the level of 1898.85m. Notwithstanding the raising of the lake’s level does not improve the quality of water and the degree of their polluting by domestic wastewater flow remains alarming. Absence of the drainage station, new construction around the lakes and agriculture aggravate the situation. Above mentioned problems are increasing risk to the lake’s ecosystem, leading to loss of endemic types of flora and fauna (biodiversity), and reduction of fishery and change of ecological-hygienic situation to the worse.
Another threat to security is the critical situation of forest resources. Armenia is one of the low forest-covered countries, as its forests cover less than 10% of the total land area. Hence, the continuing deforestation of already scarce forest resources presents a significant environmental threat, combined with destroying consequences for habitats, irreversible losses of biodiversity, lost revenue of the government.
Logging for industrial wood products and fuel wood is a key cause of deforestation. Much of this logging takes place in violation of the Forest Code and other legislation designed to protect forests against exploitation. The volume of illegal logging is intertwined with the wood processing industry and the livelihoods of the households. The rate of forest use exceeds the rate of restoration. Large forest areas of regions of Taoush, Lori, Kotaik, Ararat, Gegarkounik, Aragatsotn and Vayots Dzor remain “hot spots”. The condition of forests in the above-mentioned regions is an indicator of environment quality, public health and social well-being of local inhabitants. Forest data has not been updated since 1993.
The problems of treatment, storage and disposal of industrial and municipal waste are of no less danger to security. According to the statistics 102.1 kg of waste per capita is generated annually The mining companies are the biggest contributors to the waste generation like in Syunik region, at the gold-mining pits, concentrating mill of Kotaik region and in the production of building materials in Shirak region. The tendencies of waste accumulation in Lori and Ararat regions remain alarming as well.
With the adoption of the Law on Waste in 2004, positive developments have been displayed in the system of state accounting of waste and the factories’ security registration certificates. Only 0.6 thousand tons out of 12,065 tons of dangerous industrial waste (2007) is treated. This has led to considerable economic losses. Technical condition of 12 tailing dumps that are containing over 300 million m³ of mining industry waste (Syunik, Lori, Ararat) are of great danger for the environment and public health. The tailing dumps are situated in the vulnerable natural complexes. The dams need to be properly monitored for safety issues. The current volumes of waste generation, the absence of modern “experimental ranges” of their treatment and processing/disposal does not still exclude the risk of environmental disasters. Technologies of treatment and safe liquidation of over 120 tons of expired drugs and obsolete pesticides have been put into operation in the republic. It is essential to strengthen cooperation with European environmental Non-Governmental organizations (in Germany, Austria, and Sweden). Their experiences and practical knowledge can easily be adapted to local conditions.
It is indispensable to stress the importance of the role of community and local self-governmental bodies within the context of environmental governance. Communities and local self-government institutions have a dual role. As the majority of them are in rural areas, they are often the direct and main consumer of natural resources and therefore, the regular economic activities have an anthropogenic impact on the environment. Hence, environmental degradation harms their livelihood level.
As communities are the direct users of nature and natural resources it is necessary to encourage these communities to participate in the management of protected areas, forests and water resources, involve them in the protection and corresponding monitoring and supervision activities, through legislation and by clearly defining their jurisdictions, duties and responsibilities. It is important to provide the local self-governing bodies with the authority and where relevant, develop economic tools and mechanisms to enable them to supervise land use, which conforms to environmental laws, and to involve the local communities in projects relating to protection of nature and natural resources.
There should be an emphasis on institutional strengthening of administration and local selfgovernment, which is then used as a basis for gradual enforcement of environmental security. There should be a strengthening of all enforcement mechanisms to enforce all environmental protection principles laid down in the series of Environmental Laws; to integrate environmental considerations and the principles of environmental security into the programmes of particular sectors. Use of all the means on raising environmental awareness of general public (television, radio, internet, newsletters) is not sufficient,, the digest reader-friendly environmental informational is still a challenge, educational and training materials for communities and local NGOs are not available, in spite of the national Law on permanent environmental education.
Special attention needs the solution of ecological problems of Yerevan. The rates of town building that has led to change of architectural appearance and ecological condition of the capital have sharply grown for the last years. In the scientists- architects’ opinion “incompetent combination of green space with the building objects, grass violation of perspective plan of planting trees and shrubs” and have led to infringement of the principle of landscape organizing of the territory of Yerevan. General cutting out of trees in the parks and public gardens has turned “light cities” into a chain of architecturally unacceptable structures. Instead of permissible 7 %, over 50 % has been built on. The soil is polluted with ions of heavy metals. An important town building concept, a point of interesting aspect of environment, is being ignored.
An uncontrolled garbage jam is being observed in the capital. Drinking water supply doesn’t meet the standards and air pollution isn’t controlled yet. The emission of dangerous substances caused by means of transportation (90-95% of the whole amount of emission) has roughly risen. Bringing ecological public transport down to a minimum had a negative effect on urban environment quality especially according to indicators of noise, safety and risk. The environment quality has changed. Aesthetic perception of town landscape is replaced by psychological strain of the inhabitants of the capital.
Ararat plain is the main agricultural zone of Armenia (density of population is over 190 people per km²). The process of ground erosion and pickling (including secondary), initiating desertification developed on the territory of the plain. There are atrophied areas. The plain is constantly undergoing anthropogenic influence of Yerevan and city agglomerations. Ararat cement factory and gold-mining factory (Ararat region), Armenian Nuclear Power-station and International Airport Zvartnots are situated on its territory. The pointed out objects are the sources of air, water and agricultural lands pollution and are conductive for deterioration of soil quality and bioproductivity, polluted with ions of heavy metals. The population of the plain undergoing the influence of negative factors of environment is liable to man-made ecological diseases. The social status of the population, the difficulties of privatizing process, the deficit of profitable markets of agricultural production and tendencies of changes of environment quality lead to violation of basis for sustainable land tenure and the development of migration process. The activities of local NGOs are not effective enough. It must be aimed at the development of social monitoring systems, social ecological expertise and application of the principles of ecological insurance on risk and safety.
Preservation of biodiversity is one of the priority problems of national environmental strategy. Its solving leaves the limits of exclusively national interests and is of strategic importance for keeping and sustainable use of resources of vegetable and animal kingdom of Caucasus. Positive tendencies of cooperation, especially on biosafety and GMO have been outlined in this sphere. It is necessary to use the potential of protected territories of Armenia, creating there stations of social monitoring and research with the participation of schoolchildren and students.
Mass deforestation made ecological threat for national use of fruit, berry, medicinal, volatile oil, honey-bearing, ornamental and other plants of economic importance. It is necessary to create social centers of ecological monitoring and safety. Agro biodiversity is also involved into the zone of active man-made influence that is not safe for preservation of valuable genetic fund and endemic species of biodiversity.
The problem of atmosphere pollution and the character of emission of dangerous substances are caused by the changes of infrastructure industrial sector, quality and variety of means of transportation, the conditions of their exploitation. Systematic exceeding of maximum single concentration of dust, sulphur anhydride and nitric oxide are fixed in Yerevan, Alaverdi, Ararat, Vanadzor and Hrazdan. “Hot-spots” are Ararat and Hrazdan, where 73 000 residents are living and exposed to the influence of cement dust. There is high risk of population morbidity and soil fertility reduction and damage of vegetation (biota on the whole) in the above-mentioned towns and in the djoining territories. Transport remains the main atmosphere polluter. However, the cases of monopoly and ecologically quite dangerous use of these recourses have become frequent.
The problems connected with the polluting of water resources are especially topical. The wastewater treatment plant exists only for Yerevan city, which is implementing only physical treatment of wastewater. In other regions of Armenia, there are no wastewater treatment plants. The quality of water in the rivers is not always up to normative indices. Almost all surface water bodies in Armenia has transboundary importance in the region as outflow from Armenia by joining the Araks or the Kura Rivers. According to the national data on surface water resources quality monitoring, the cases of MPC exceedance for heavy metals, Ph, ammonium ions, oil products and other parameters are very frequent. The most polluted transboundary rivers are the Debed, Agstev, Araks, Voghji, Hrazdan, Akhuryan and Vorotan Rivers and their river basins. Water systems are in unsatisfactory technical condition. Often emergencies are leading to the rise of common morbidity of intestinal infections. The risk connected with the danger of infectious diseases outbreak is not excluded as well. Public discontent may cause assuming increase in the prices of drinking water and irrigation water use. The activities of NGOs ecological and public health character, their participation in independent ecological expertise, etc. must be stimulated.
Among the objects of power engineering, the problem of safe functioning of Armenian Nuclear Power-station (Armavir region) attracts public attention. According to the experts’ appraisals, technical state, exploitation conditions, systematic monitoring of environment and the professionalism of working staff exclude the risk situations and conflicts. The information about the power-station activity is accessible to public. Nevertheless, the problems of risk and safety are still in the limelight in the context of transboundary influence. The governmental efforts are aimed at developing of alternative energy sources (wind, solar and geothermal in the perspective). This is ecologically acceptable policy, though the strategy of development of small hydropower plants is not always reasonable from the point of view of safe application and negative impact on biodiversity. The shortcomings of environmental impact assessment of small hydropower plants projects and unsatisfactory public participation level in decision-making lead to unproved decisions and often to conflicts for water use among various types of users. The level of information on the problems of safety and risk of exploitation of such entities is low. It is necessary to carry out social ecological expertise on indicators of safety to adapt to the advanced know-how of European countries (Denmark, Norway, Netherlands, etc.).
Armenia’s environment became severely polluted during the Soviet period. The Soviet government pushed heavy industry development to a massive scale, throughout the Soviet Union. The government ignored the environmental harm caused by these industries for too long, but in the 1980s liberalizing political reforms in the USSR resulted in the formation of environmental groups, which began to express concerns about the state of the environment.
Due to the pressure of these groups, several factories in Armenia that were sources of severe pollution were closed, starting from 1989. One of these, a rubber and chemical plant in Nairit, reopened in 1992. as Armenia needed the income generated by exporting the plant’s products. Although national environmental laws have been put into effect in Armenia since it became independent, no comprehensive environmental protection program has emerged, and environmental initiatives are typically addressed to an ad hoc basis.
In an attempt to offset a six-year-old energy crisis caused by blockades by Azerbaijan and Turkey, the Armenian government in mid-1995 reactivated a nuclear power plant at Metsamor, close since 1988. after the catastrophic earthquake in northern Armenia. Environmental groups opposed reopening of the plant, since it poses an environmental threat. Although it is in an earthquake-prone area, it was not built to withstand earthquakes. Portions of Armenia also were rapidly deforested during the winters of 1992, 1993, and 1994, as trees were often the only available source of fuel.
Armenian government claims they are ready to shut the plant down, as soon as they get able to replace its energy production with alternative energy sources. Soil intoxication is yet another problem and a result of reckless use of pesticides, in order to increase the yield. Usage of DDT has poisoned both soil and the rivers.
The country is almost entirely dependant on importing energy. The only domestic energy resource in use is hydropower, providing about 30% of energy demands, and the single nuclear power plant. All the natural gas for now comes from Russia, and existing inaccurate estimate of coal reserves is basis for opening a state owned coalmine.
Renewable energy sources are scarce except for the water and the wind, which might represent significant resources for the future. From 2001, 7.6% of the land in Armenia has obtained the status of protected areas.In further attempts to protect biodiversity, 10 fauna species have received a status of endangered species, from 2001 onwards.
Caucasus region already suffers serious consequences of climate changes on biodiversity and deposition of ice and snow, but climate would also have a significant effect on climate-dependent economy. One of most obvious effect on nature will be landscape zones shift towards higher altitudes, such as desert and semi-desert area which will expand for 33%, while sub-alpine and alpine zone will be reduced up to 22%. It is expected reduction of river flow, precipitation in continental regions and of agriculture yield, and increase of draught rate, precipitation in Sevana lake area, as well as expander of habitats of natural carriers of malaria and plague.
Armenia, bordering Georgia and Azerbajan, is sharing some of the same ecosystems and biodiversity of the Caucasus region, which is one of the riches areas in diversity, in Europe. However, species extinction within the region is reaching alarming rate. Therefore, the country will face same consequences of Caucasus range ice sheet melting, water reserves and biodiversity loss as two other neighboring countries.
Like most republics of the Soviet Union, Azerbaijan experienced rapid development of all spheres of economics and human activity, which led to an all-round negative impact on the environment, including the inefficient usage of natural resources.
The following are the principal ecological problems of Azerbaijan:
l The pollution of water resources by way of introduction of contaminated water, including transnational pollution
l The supply of low-quality water to inhabited regions, the loss of fresh water prior to it delivery to the end consumers, insufficient development of sewer systems
l Air pollution from industrial plants and transport vehicles
l Degradation of soil (erosion, desertification, etc.)
l Improper regulation of industry and housing, as well as hazardous solid wastes
l Decline in biological diversity
l Decline in forest reserves and fauna, especially fish results
Issue: Petro-chemical plants, oil refineries and factories especially in Sumgayit and Baku; oil refineries, venting of natural gas from oil wells; burning of untreated garbage; and exhausts from engines.
Concern: Health may be affected especially to the pulmonary, digestive, circulatory, and immune systems. In severe cases, genetic mutation may occur.
Polluted Drinking Water
Issue: Ground water pollution from oil spillage and leakage from pipeline and storage tanks resulting in petroleum hydrocarbons, heavy metals and possibly radiation contamination; run off from heavy usage of fertilizers and pesticides in agriculture; factory wastes dumped into rivers; salinity of water table due to rise in Caspian Sea and sea water intrusion; rusted water pipes; obsolete and broken equipment in water treatment plants.
Concern: Transmission of bacterial diseases such as cholera and hepatitis; accumulation of heavy metals leading to health complications; cancers.
Inadequate Waste Management-Solid and Liquid
Issue: Burning of garbage in large dumps outside the major cities; breeding places for disease-spreading insects, rats, and wild dogs. Inadequate and antiquated equipment to treat liquid wastes.
Concern: Incomplete combustion of burning leads to air pollution; untreated sewage being released into rivers and Caspian; contamination when seepage from landfills and waste ponds enters ground water.
Issue: Burning of trees in villages due to Armenian land burning policy in war. Cutting of trees by vast refugee population as wood and kindling are needed as fuel to boil water which is contaminated. Fuel needed to cook the bread, main sustenance in refugee's diet; trees used for heati
Concern: Soil erosion and loss of rich top soil into rivers; change in climatic patterns due to loss of trees which may affect agricultural process; loss of rare plant species; destruction of habitats of bird and animal species; loss of parks and state reserves.
Decrease in Supply of Sturgeon and Caviar
Issue: Overfishing of sturgeon; limiting the spawning area of sturgeon by damming river passages such as the Volga; lack of agreement and strict enforcement between countries bordering the Caspian; catching sturgean before maturity; factory wastes discharged into rivers and sea; oil pollution.
Concern: Disruption in ecosystem chain which could lead to the diminishing or eventual extinction of certain species, especially sturgeon. Collapse of significant economical revenue for the countries bordering the Caspian.
Rising Level of the Caspian
Issue: Since 1978, the Caspian has risen more than two meters. Scientists are still trying to figure out the cause or causes which possibly relate to climatic and hydrologic changes.
Concern: Flooding of coastal low lying land and marsh areas, causing habitat destruction; severe loss of crops and top soil on arable land; flooding of disposal sites, industrial areas and oil fields which will lead to pollution of sea and seriously harm marine life. Salination of coastal areas causing desertification, deforestation of trees and plant life; loss of beaches, buildings, roads and railroads.
Issue: Loss of some of the most productive land in the country; loss of crops such as grapes, cotton and wheat; loss of pasture area for thousands of sheep and cows forcing overpasturing in remaining areas. Loss of therapeutic mineral spas and water; abusive exploitation of mines and forests by Armenians in attempts to make quick profit from natural resources in case they are forced to relinquish Azerbaijani land.
Excessive Use of Fertilizers Cotton, Grapes and Vegetables
Issue: Excessive use of fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides in agriculture; lack of adequate storage areas for toxins; aircraft spraying of pesticides not carried out to safe standards including height, wind velocity, and proximity to residential zones; people not warned nor protected during sprayings.
Concern: Pollution of air, soil, water and food. Toxic residues remain in clothing, fruit, wine and vegetables; toxins may enter the food chain; residues seep down into water table and contaminate drinking water supplies; cancers and possible genetic damage.
Oil Pollution-Onshore and Offshore
Issue: Offshore-Crude oil spillage into water can lower oxygen levels harming marine life and disrupt ecosystem; oil can be pushed by winds and waves to shore where it can harm marshlands destroying animal habitats, beaches, etc.
Onshore: oil spilled on the land can seep down to the water table and contaminate drinking water supply. Land becomes a dead zone; all vegetation dies in area. Cuttings that are expelled during extraction process and emptied into open pools may contain radioactive materials.
Extensive info (2005) on:
l Oil Contamination and Hazardous Waste.
l Solid and Hazardous Waste.
l Energy Inefficiency and Air Pollution.
l Mobile Source Emissions and Transport.
l Irrigation and its Environmental Dimension.
l Municipal Water and Wastewater Management.
l Industrial Wastewater Discharge.
l Soil Erosion.
l Pasture Degradation.
l Forest Depletion.
l And other
Severe pollution from heavy industries and agriculture has damaged the environment of Azerbaijan. The contamination of the Caspian Sea from oil drilling in Baku has been a problem since the 19th century, when the Russian Empire took control of the region and began to rapidly exploit its oil reserves. Although oil production waned during the Soviet period, petroleum waste was routinely dumped into the Caspian. The Caspian also suffers from the discharge of untreated sewage, and pollution has depleted the sea’s stocks of sturgeon. Severe air pollution is a problem in the major cities due to emissions from petroleum and chemical industries. During the Soviet period, dangerously high concentrations of pesticides and fertilizers were used to increase Azerbaijan’s agricultural output. In the late 1980s, when environmental awareness began to surface in the USSR, Azerbaijan’s high infant mortality rate and high rates of infectious diseases were linked to the chemicals used in cotton growing. Although the people of Azerbaijan are generally aware of the need to protect the environment, the republic’s environmental issues have not received significant attention from the government.
Azerbaijan's current environmental problems result in part from the effects of the economic priorities and practices of the former Soviet Union. General mismanagement of the country's resources has resulted in a serious threat to several areas of the environment. UN agencies report severe air and water pollution in Azerbaijan, which ranks among the 50 nations with the world's highest level of carbon dioxide emissions. In the mid-1990s, carbon dioxide emissions totaled 63.9 million metric tons per year, or 8.76 metric tons per capita. The combination of industrial, agricultural, and oil-drilling pollution has created an environmental crisis in the Caspian Sea. These sources of pollution have contaminated 100% of the coastal waters in some areas and 45.3% of Azerbaijan's rivers. In 2001, only 78% of the total population had access to safe drinking water. The pollution of the land through the indiscriminate use of agricultural chemicals such as the pesticide DDT is also a serious problem. Azerbaijan's war with Armenia has hampered the government's ability to improve the situation. Due to the severity of pollution on all levels, the country's wildlife and vegetation are also seriously affected. From the mid-1980s to mid-1990s, the amount of forest and woodland declined by 12.5%. As of 2001, 11 species of mammals, 8 species of birds, 5 species of fish, and 13 species of reptile were endangered. Endangered species include the Barbel sturgeon, beluga, the Azov-Black Sea sturgeon, the Apollo butterfly, and the Armenian birch mouse.
Belarus has established ministries of energy, forestry, land reclamation, and water resources, as well as state committees to deal with ecology and safety procedures in the nuclear power industry. The most serious environmental issue in Belarus results from the 1986 accident at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. About 70% of the nuclear fallout from the plant landed on Belarusian territory and about 20% of the land remains contaminated. Government restrictions on residence and use of contaminated land are not strictly enforced, and the government even announced plans in 2004 to increase agricultural production in the contaminated regions. Belarus also faces growing air, land, and water pollution levels from potash mining in the south of the country.
Environment - current issues: soil pollution from pesticide use; southern part of the country contaminated with fallout from 1986 nuclear reactor accident at Chornobyl' in northern Ukraine
In the environmental sphere, the following internal sources of threats to the national security are as follows:
l high concentration of environmentally hazardous facilities in Belarus, their location near residential areas and near life-supporting systems;
l contamination of the environment owing to the accident at the Chernobyl power plant;
l large amounts of industrial and consumers’ wastes; low degree of reuse and high-tech recycling of these wastes; high levels of emissions and discharges of pollutants;
l insufficient development of legal and economic mechanisms to ensure environmental security as well as the accounting systems for natural resources, disaster monitoring and the quality of the environment.
In the environmental sphere, the external sources of threats to ther national security are as follows:
l global changes of the environment connected with the climate change, the destruction of the ozone layer and the reduction of biodiversity;
l transboundary transfer of pollutants to the territory of the Republic of Belarus by air and water flow, the penetration of invasive species of plants and animals from the neighboring countries;
l placement of big environmentally hazardous facilities near the borders of Belarus; disposal of nuclear waste in adjacent territories.
Neutralization of the internal sources of threats to the national security in the environmental field will benefit from economic growth within the economic range of the biosphere and from improvement of the ecological situation in the Republic of Belarus by the introduction of energy-and resource-saving technologies, modern systems for the protection of environmentally hazardous facilities, by the development and implementation of ecologically friendly technologies, renewable energy sources.
A comprehensive rehabilitation and revitalisation of the victims of the Chernobyl disaster is under way in Belarus. Further improvement of the state system of prevention and response to emergency situations is carried out to ensure the effective protection of the population and territories from emergency situations, from anthropogenic or natural disasters. All international rules and standards in the field of radiation, industrial and environmental safety will be strictly observed during the construction and operation of the national nuclear power plant. The following tasks will be of significant importance: the development of a national environmental monitoring system, the formation of markets for environmental services, the introduction of environmental auditing and insurance, an effective legal and regulatory framework of environmental security, including a system of payments for the use of natural resources and adequate compensation for the damage caused to the environment.
Promoting international cooperation in the sphere of environmental protection and legal resolution of transnational environmental problems, an increase in the reliability of estimates and forecasts of the state of natural environment, climate change, severe weather and climatic events, adaptation of sectors of the economy to environmental changes, the reducion greenhouse gas emissions will provide protection from external threats to national security in the environmental sphere.
As part of the legacy of the former Soviet Union, Belarus's main environmental problems are chemical and nuclear pollution. Most experts estimate that 25–30% of Belarus's farmland was irradiated and should not be used for agricultural production or to collect wild berries and mushrooms, although it continues to be used for these and other purposes.
In addition, Belarus has significant air and water pollution from industrial sources. The most common pollutants are formaldehyde, carbon emissions, and petroleum-related chemicals. In 1992, Belarus was among the world's to 50 nations in industrial emissions of carbon dioxide, producing 102 million metric tons, or 9.89 metric tons per capita. In 1996, the total fell to 61.7 million metric tons. The soils also contain unsafe levels of lead, zinc, copper and the agricultural chemical DDT. All urban and rural dwellers have access to safe drinking water.
Air pollution, although worrying in some cities, is not as dramatic as in most of the polluted industrial centres of Russia and the Ukraine. Water pollution, too, is less serious than in most of the successor states to the Soviet Union. A serious problem is, however, posed by salification of the water supply by the potash industry.
The cities of Belarus are heavily polluted, especially industrial centers such as Salihorsk and Navapolatsk, largely because of the development of heavy industries in the years following World War II (1939-1945). Automobile exhaust is now the source of about half the air pollution in the cities. While Belarus was a part of the USSR, government controls on industrial pollution were virtually nonexistent. In recent years the government has turned its attention to the problem, although somewhat belatedly. Energy conservation and recycling have yet to be implemented in any sustained manner.
Belarus imports around 84% of its energy demands, 95% of its natural gas, 73% of its oil, and 20-25% of its electricity. The country is almost entirely dependant on Russian federation. The collapse of Soviet Union in 1989-91 had led to the shutting down a number of inefficient and heavily-polluting industry facilities. The outcome was that, by 1997 industrial gases emissions had dropped dramatically from 1990 levels, in some cases by nearly 50%.
Nevertheless, harmful impact of industry on environment is very broad. Chemical industry, petrochemical industry including oil refineries and machinery industry are the biggest polluters with extremely high emission of carbon and nitrogen oxides. Another significant issue in Belarus is industrial waste.
The most serious environmental problem in Belarus is the contamination after the 1986 explosion at the Chernobyl’ nuclear power plant in northern Ukraine, 16 km south of the Belarusian border. More than 60 percent of the high-level radioactive fallout of cesium, strontium, and plutonium that was spewed into the atmosphere landed in Belarus, affecting about one-fifth of its territory and more than 2 million people. The explosion initially posed its greatest threat in the air, as winds immediately carried the radioactive plume over Belarus. Long-lived radioisotopes then settled in the soil, posing a long-term danger to groundwater, livestock, and agriculture. More than 160,000 Belarusians were evacuated from their homes in the most heavily contaminated regions of Gomyel’, Mahilyow, and Brest. In the villages in the contaminated zones, food and other goods are now in short supply and radiation-linked diseases are on the rise.
Belarus has vast forest areas such as pine, fir, and birch forests, dominant in the north, and oak, elm, and white beech prevalent in the south. Little of the country’s woodland is protected, however, in total, 4.2 percent of Belarus’s land area is protected. Biodiversity, soil pollution, and other related issues are areas of concern. Another area of concern is the number of threatened species. For example, wisents were once plentiful in Belarus but are now endangered and protected by government decree. The government has ratified international environmental agreements pertaining to air pollution, biodiversity, environmental modification, and ozone layer protection.
The country has a big potential for renewable energy use. It has 9 million ha of forest out of which 53% are for commercial use. Wood production residues may provide with up to 23 TWh per year. Another solid potential is held in biogas, with 4.22 million cattle in year 2000. it is expected that the energy gained from cattle digestive processes is around 25 PJ per year. As for the wind power, Belarus has a capacity of 3.3 TWh per year.
The output of solar energy systems in Belarus is estimated to be 40% and 10% of the in-coming solar energy for solar heating and solar electricity (PV), respectively. This gives annual outputs of approximately 400 kWh/m2 and 100 kWh/m2 for solar heating and electricity, with 1000 – 1100 kWh/m2 solar influx in Belarus.
The hydro power potential is estimated to be 10 PJ with only 80 TJ used today. In this vision only 15% of the potential (1.5 PJ) are used. The reason for the limitation is the uncertain environmental effects on some of the potential sites.
Being locked between other European countries, with flat terrain suitable for agricultural use, Belarus is already suffering consequences of climate changes reflected on yield, river flow and average annual temperature rise. Today floods represent a great problem for the country. Sudden and premature dramatic seasonal changes (transition from winter to extremely warm spring, already in March) cause snow pack to melt and river overflow, flooding the surrounding terrain. Heavy storms occasionally occur, forcing evacuations, causing great damages on electric grids and great financial damage in general.
Bosnia and Herzegovina have a number of environmental issues. These include air pollution from the country’s metallurgical plants. The 1992-95 civil strife has caused the destruction of infrastructure and a water shortage. There are limited sites for disposing of urban waste. In addition, the country is encountering deforestation.
Metallurgical plants contribute to air pollution. Ongoing interethnic civil strife has seriously damaged the country's infrastructure and led to water shortages. Urban landfill sites are limited. As of 1995, the nation had 2.7 million ha of forest. Deforestation was not a significant problem. As of 2001, only 0.5% of the total land area is protected. Of 72 mammal species, 10 were considered threatened as of 2001, as were two species of birds and six species of freshwater fish. Endangered species include the slender-billed curlew, Danube salmon, and the field adder.
- regarding Bosnia and Herzegovina, Albania, Macedonia and Kosovo
The territory of the four countries covers an area of 116.201 km2 (approximately one quarter size of Sweden). Most of the countries are relatively rich in forestland. In Bosnia and Herzegovina forestland covers 52% of the territory, while in Albania, Macedonia and Kosovo it covers between 36% and 39%. This can be compared to Sweden where forestland covers around 55% of the total country area. Soil erosion, due to deforestation, poor land management practice and overgrazing of livestock is an important contributor to environmental degradation in all countries.
In several localities of Albania (Kerraba, Mallakarstra) the erosion limits are extreme (above 150 tons/ha/year). And some 20% of the Albanian territory are subject to severe erosion (approximately 30 tons/ha/year) while 10% of the territory of Bosnia and Herzegovina is badly damaged by erosion. Soil is additionally degraded by industrial and household waste dumps. By the beginning of 1990's, for instance, annual industrial waste production amounted to over 1 million tons of solid industrial waste in Macedonia and Albania. Industrial waste presents a major threat to the land in all countries. There has been little if any substantive rehabilitation of former chemical and fertiliser plants (Albania, Kosovo, Bosnia and Herzegovina), open pit coal and other mines (Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo) and industrial waste dumps.
A specific post-conflict situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo concerns land mines and UXOs (unexploded ordinances). It is estimated that there are between 3 to 6 million land mines in more than 16,000 minefields on the territory of Bosnia and Herzegovina. In Kosovo alone, 232 casualties were caused by land mines, of which 40 were fatal, between two summer months of 1999. Until land mines are cleared, the opportunities for reconstruction and agriculture work will be severely limited. Use of pesticides in agriculture has declined in Macedonia (from 2.706 tons in 1983 to 659 tons in 1993) and Bosnia and Herzegovina. Almost 45% of the current stock of 1000 tons of expired pesticides in Albania are classified as hazardous and have not been deposited in the adequate disposal facilities.
While Albania and Macedonia, in terms of water resources, are relatively rich by European standards, consumption remains low. In Kosovo only urban areas are connected to a water supply, while not more than 32% of the urban population in Bosnia and Herzegovina is supplied with safe and treated water. Specific data on the quantity of lead, pesticides, nitrates and microorganisms in drinking water samples is limited or not available in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo, while there is no recent data (post- 1981) for groundwater quality in Macedonia.
Groundwater remains polluted, in all four countries, with uncontrolled use of fertilisers and chemicals, untreated sewage and leaching from contaminated soils. The contamination of surface waters downstream of towns, by household waste and faecal pollution, pose a serious risk to health, particularly, in Kosovo and Bosnia and Herzegovina. Post-war, mortality due to infectious intestinal diseases have been increasing rapidly in Kosovo (from 390 to 1420 cases per 100,000 inhabitants); in Bosnia and Herzegovina there was a rise from 1875 to 7421 cases of Hepatitis A, and from 3411 to 21,937 cases of diarrhoea. One of the major threats to water in all four countries concerns inadequate treatment of industrial (cement, leather, textile, wood processing, chemical, fertiliser, oil and gas processing, mining) pollutants. Between 1997 and 1998, 15,790 tons of liquid wastes were dis harged into Albanian rivers, lakes and water resources. Data shows that only 3% of all rivers in Bosnia and Herzegovina are clean and free of pollution, while 30% of rivers suffer from varying levels of eutrophication.
There are only few specific data on air quality available within the countries. Air quality has not been measured systematically for many years in Kosovo, while the first efforts to monitor air pollution are in the process of being initiated in Albania. Air quality problems have been observed in major urban and industrial areas in all four countries. Air pollution from five biggest Macedonian towns is affecting some 600,000 people or 30% of the total population. Emissions above maximum allowable concentration (MAC) limits, in the early 1990s, were not uncommon within the vicinity of mining, industrial and energetic complexes in Kosovo. The atmospheric lead concentrations in central Mitrovice exceeded MAC limits on daily basis for between 62% and 87% of the time, while in Pristina, dust pollution exceeded these limits (on average) 31% of the time.
The operating thermal power plants in Albania have discharged into the air 1,650 tons of ashes, 7,100 tons SO2, 1,320 tons of dust between 1997 and 1998. It has been estimated that 10,000 tons of SO2 is emitted from the largest plants in Macedonia (Veles smelter, iron plant). Air quality is also accentuated by soot, slag, barren soil, and ash owing to inadequate disposal and treatment of industrial waste, as well as traditional burning of household waste in some countries. The last decade witnessed an increase in the pollutant emissions from non-stationary sources, specifically from traffic. The content of lead in gasoline is 0.6 g/l in Macedonia, compared to the EC standard of 0.15 g/l. Local air in all countries is further degraded by emissions from the buses and heavy vehicles using low quality diesel.
All countries are well known for their rich and varied flora and fauna. Approximately 30% of European flora occurs in Albania, with about 3200 flora species, and 756 fauna species. There are 3500 higher plant, 55 known fish, 78 mammal and 330 bird species in Macedonia. More than 2000 species of vascular flora have been found on the territory of the only National Park in Kosovo (Sar Planina). Despite the high diversity of ecosystems and habitats, areas preserved as National Parks or Protected Areas are relatively small. In Kosovo and Bosnia and Herzegovina, 0.5% of the country is under protection. Kosovo has one National Park, two regional parks, 11 nature reserves, and 32 monuments of nature with an abundant diversity of both flora and habitat. Sar Planina is included in the list of assets proposed for the UNESCO Heritage Status and Biosphere Parks.
In Macedonia 6.6% of the territory is under some kind of protection, including three national parks (108,000 ha), three areas with special characteristics (2,338 ha), 14 special animal and plant reserves and 48 natural monuments (56,850 ha). In Albania, 5.8 percent of the whole country area is under protection with only one site covered under the RAMSAR Convention. Transboundary lakes Ohrid (shared by Albania and Macedonia), Shkodra (shared by Albania and Montenegro), and Prespa are points of floristic and fauna exchange, including different species of fish, and many types of unique and endangered aquatic vegetation. Shkodra Lake is hosting over 250 registered waterfowl and waterbird species including 73 migratory nesting species and many endangered and rare birds such as pygmy cormorants and Dalmatian pelicans.
Despite its richness in biological and landscape diversity, Albania has a very high rate of biodiversity loss. At least two species of plants and four species of mammals are extinct, while 17 bird species no longer nest in Albania. Lake Dojran, on the border between Macedonia and Greece, has lost 109 out of 257 algae taxons because of excessive water abstractions for agriculture. National Park Sar Planina in Kosovo, Mountain Vlasic in Bosnia and Herzegovina, have been exposed to deforestation activities despite having biodiversity of global significance. This includes members of KFOR in Kosovo carrying out unauthorised works (opening quarries and construction work for military purposes) while the large areas of land have been mined.
http://europeandcis.undp.org/environment/LED/show/D4EDB2C0-F203-1EE9-BE2EA51F24221E63 - Climate change impacts
Bulgaria has signed and ratified the Kyoto protocol and has achieved a 30% reduction of carbon dioxide emissions from 1990 to 2009, completing the protocol's objectives. However, pollution from outdated factories and metallurgy works, as well as severe deforestation (mostly caused by illegal logging), continue to be major problems. Urban areas are particularly affected mostly due to energy production from coal-based power plants and automobile traffic, while pesticide usage in the agriculture and antiquated industrial sewage systems have resulted in extensive soil and water pollution with chemicals and detergents. In addition, Bulgaria remains the only EU member which does not recycle municipal waste, although an electronic waste recycling plant was put in operation in June 2010. The situation has improved in recent years, and several government-funded programs have been initiated in order to reduce pollution levels.
Like other countries in the Soviet sphere, Bulgaria strongly emphasized heavy industry and intensive agriculture but did not mitigate the environmental consequences of such a policy. As a result, in the early 1990s an estimated 60 percent of agricultural land was polluted by fertilizers and pesticides, two-thirds of rivers were polluted, and two-thirds of primary forests had been leveled. Although environmental awareness improved in the post-communist era, the state’s lack of administrative strength and fears of unemployment prevented the curtailment of many dangerous practices. For example, the four reactors of Bulgaria’s only nuclear power plant, the Kozloduy Nuclear Power Plant, were declared unsafe in the early 1990s, but the first reactor closure occurred only in 2003. Because cleanup has been economically problematic in the post-communist era, in the mid-2000s Bulgaria still had grave environmental crises. Among them were air pollution from industrial emissions; the inability to filter effluents into rivers, leading to concentrations of untreated sewage, heavy metals, and detergents; severely depleted natural forest cover; forest damage from air pollution and resulting acid rain; and soil contamination by heavy metals resulting from improper industrial waste disposal. In the 1990s and early 2000s, a rapid increase in motor vehicles using leaded fuel exacerbated urban air pollution.
Bulgaria's air pollution problem results from the combined influence of industry and transportation. In the mid-1990s, Bulgaria was among the 50 countries with the highest industrial emissions of carbon dioxide, producing 54.3 million metric tons, or 6.08 metric tons per capita. In 1996, the total was 55.2 million metric tons. Twenty-five percent of Bulgaria's forests have been significantly damaged by airborne pollutants. Only 4.5% of the country's total land area is protected. Bulgaria's rivers and the Black Sea are seriously affected by industrial and chemical pollutants, raw sewage, heavy metals, and detergents. However, nearly 100% of the population have access to safe drinking water. Industrial pollutants, especially from metallurgical plants, are responsible for damage to 115 sq mi of land in Bulgaria. Endangered species in Bulgaria include the Rosalia longhorn, Atlantic sturgeon, and slender-billed curlew. As of 2001, there were 13 mammal species, 12 bird species, 1 reptile species, and 59 plant species that were endangered.
With the constant rise in the number of industries in the country, the environment of Bulgaria is getting more and more affected by air pollution. Human activities like deforestation, industrial activities etc are resulting in environmental hazards in Bulgaria. Today, air pollution is a major environmental issues in the country. The environment of Bulgaria is thus witnessing a constant deterioration.
Large scale industrial development in Bulgaria is causing industrial emissions, deforestation, soil pollution and water pollution. All these various kinds of pollutions is having a negative effect on the Bulgarian environment which is presently in a poor state. Rivers are getting contaminated from the sewage, detergents and heavy metals.
Forests, which comprise an integral aspect of environment in Bulgaria, are getting affected by deforestation and air pollution created by the occurrences of acid rain. Soil pollution is taking place due to contamination of soil from industrial by-products and from the heavy metals that are produced by the metallurgical plants.
To deal with rising environmental problems in Bulgaria, the country has entered into various international environmental agreements like Air Pollution-Sulfur 85, Antarctic Treaty, Kyoto Protocol, Ozone Layer Protection etc. Bulgaria is therefore making efforts to create a healthy and green environment with little air and other kinds of pollutions.
http://www.oecd.org/dataoecd/7/51/2452640.pdf - OECD report
Air pollution from industrial emissions; rivers polluted from raw sewage, heavy metals, detergents; deforestation; forest damage from air pollution and resulting acid rain; soil contamination from heavy metals from metallurgical plants and industrial wastes.
Over the last 6-7 years there have been unprecedented floods in Bulgaria. Average summer temperatures have risen considerably. There is evidence of a trend towards desertification and pressure on water resources, especially in southern regions of the country, along with signs of gradual northward migration of various plant and animal species.
Bulgarian scientists at the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences anticipate the spread of desertification, with the climate in Bulgaria becoming sub-tropical by the period from 2050 to 2080. A number of traditionally cultivated crops are expected to become unviable and expectations include the growth and spread of pest and disease species hitherto unseen in Bulgaria and resilient to the new climatic conditions.
(an overview of the country's environmental problems and solutions – REC 1994)
Industrial pollution is the major cause of environmental problems in Croatia, as it is in the rest of eastern Europe. Air pollution is severe, and water pollution in the rivers is so serious that the water must be treated even for industrial use. There is coastal pollution due to industrial waste as well.
Croatia’s Sava River Valley contains three bird sanctuaries, two of which are part of the Lonjsko Polje Nature Park. The floodplain of the Sava River is extensive, resulting in wetlands that provide a habitat for numerous plant and animal species. These wetlands are at risk as a result of encroaching agriculture, drainage and land reclamation, and water pollution.
Croatia protects 6.7 percent (1997) of its total land area in parks and other reserves—a higher percentage than any of the country’s eastern European neighbors, yet much lower than many western European countries. Forests make up 32.6 percent (1995) of the country’s land area. Industrial air pollution from the cities causes acid rain that is damaging to the forests.
Croatia is party to treaties concerning air pollution, biodiversity, climate change, hazardous wastes, marine dumping, and wetlands.
Air pollution (from metallurgical plant emissions) and deforestation are inland environmental problems. In 1996 industrial carbon dioxide emissions totaled 17.5 million metric tons. Coastal water systems have been damaged by industrial and domestic waste. All of Croatia's urban dwellers have access to safe drinking water. Environmental management is becoming more decentralized, thereby empowering city and municipal administrations to determine environmental policy. Croatia's 195 protected areas cover 421,000 ha, or 7.4% of the country's natural areas. Forest and woodland accounted for 15% of Croatia's land use in 1996. As of 2001, there were 10 mammal species and 6 bird species that were considered threatened. Endangered species include the Atlantic sturgeon, slender-billed curlew, and the Mediterranean monk seal.
Over 90% of the soil surface is exposed to water and wind erosion of varying intensity. The situation is particularly severe in the karst area, where erosion has already reached the geological base. The worst affected areas are central and coastal Istria, where the annual amounts of eroded material per hectare reach 100-200 tons. The situation is similar in the delta and along the banks of the Neretva River, which takes in large amounts of sediment from neighboring Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Changes in land use patterns are also widespread, causing the loss of 166,441 ha of agricultural land between 1965 and 1987, with an average annual rate of 7,235 ha (ca. 20 ha daily). Between 1975 and 1985 there was a notable reduction in the number of plough-land areas and gardens. Agricultural activities have not caused serious soil or environmental pollution, since the consumption of pesticides and mineral fertilizers in the private sector is fairly low (25% of the West European mean).
With 37% of the territory comprised of forests and forested land, Croatia belongs among the plentifully forested countries of Europe. The most valuable coniferous and leaf forests are situated in the mountainous and hilly areas, while the famous “Slavonian oak” is a characteristic for the lowland Slavonia. Forest fires, mostly caused by human irresponsibility, have been on the increase in the areas with Mediterranean vegetation, and pose a pressure as regards soil degradation. In 1996, some 3,129 fires des troyed 29,000 ha of woodland. In the past twenty years or so, almost 7% of the total forested land (2,5% of Croatia) has been destroyed by fire. The fires diminish soil fertility and increase susceptibility to erosion.
Significant contamination of soil exists in certain areas affected by war. The fire at the Sisak oil refinery left an area containing 1.0 x 3.5 km of soil saturated with polyaromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). High polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) levels have been found in soil samples taken in the vicinity of a condenser destroyed in the Bilice Electrical Transformer Station near Sibenik – 2311 ppm; and at the 110/35 kV Zadar Electrical Transformer Station – 214 ppm. PCB levels such as these pose health and environmental risks.
The quality of freshwater in Croatia, which is monitored on 270 measuring stations by the State Water Directorate, shows that the worst conditions are found in large rivers belonging to the Black Sea River Basin. The Sava River, which in Slovenia passes through settlements with developed industry (the city of Ljubljana, coal separation plants in Trbovlje and Zagorje, the wood-pulp factory in Krsko) is of a category III-IV. The nuclear power plant in Krsko is a constant burden as a source of heat to the river. The worst conditions are found downstream from Zagreb, where the water quality is categorized as III or IV. Flowing through Croatia, the Sava River receives discharges of industrial and municipal waste. Additionally, some of the river’s tributaries have a high nitrogen and phosphorus content, which causes occasional river blossoming and oxygen deficiency.
The situation is better with the Drava River (category II and III). Although the river receives agricultural wastewater from neighboring countries (Slovenia, Austria and Hungary), its quality tends to improve on its way through Croatia. Numerous hydropower plants and water reservoirs in Croatia and in neighboring countries have changed the water regime of the Drava River. Transboundary monitoring of the impact of the hydropower plant at Varazdin shows increased radioactivity and heavy metal levels.
Within the framework of the Danube Convention, pollution hot spots on the Danube and its tributary rivers – the Sava, Drava and Kupa – have been identified. In 1995, some 22 such hot spots were listed, 18 of which were attributed to municipal wastewater discharges in 12 large towns and four attributed to discharges from industrial plants (iron works, chemical and food processing industry). The rivers belonging to the Black Sea Basin are frequently one quality level below the objective. The water quality of rivers belonging to the Adriatic Sea River Basin is generally good (category I and II) except around urban areas situated along the mouth of these rivers (Rijeka, Split, Sibenik, Pula) where the quality can drop to category III or IV. The quality of Croatia’s drinking water is generally good, and the quality of underground water is considered good throughout the country.
Croatia’s air quality, monitored through the national monitoring network, is generally showed significant improvements over the past 10 years. The highest sulphur dioxide and smoke concentrations have been measured in Split and Rijeka, followed by Zagreb. Most areas have achieved the first and the second category of air quality, which indicates that the air is either clean, slightly or moderately polluted. Trends in the emissions of the main pollutants show that a significant drop has been achieved between 1990 and 1997, followed by a slight slow increase in some pollutants.
However, despite the improvement, some air pollution problems still remain. Consequently, in 1996 the poorest air quality was recorded in Zagreb, Rijeka, Split and Kutina (category III). In Zagreb the lead content of deposited matter exceeded the LV at four measuring sites, probably due to the use of leaded petrol. Rijeka has problems with H2S (sulfur hydroxide), Split with sedim ent, and Kutina with NH3 (ammonia) and H2S. According to the 1998 Report on the State of the Environment, the main type of air pollution in residential areas is particulate pollution, followed by SO2. Data on particulate matter levels less than ten microns in diameter (PM10), which could be hazardous for health, are still not available. Also, data on atmospheric pollution by hazardous organic and inorganic substances are scarce. Considering the technologies used by Croatian industry, this type of pollution should not be ignored, particularly in areas near large industrial facilities, which produce the majority of emissions. The measurement of ground-level ozone in Zagreb and Puntijarka (Medvednica mountain, near Zagreb) shows that ground-level ozone levels reach values considered harmful to health nearly 10% of the time, and in Puntijarka it reaches values harmful to vegetation as much as 90% of the time. Measurements have shown that more than 90% of Croatia's total oxidized sulfur and nitrogen comes from transboundary sources. Some 56% of its reduced nitrogen deposition is also imported. The main contributors are Italy, Hungary, Germany and Poland. In general, Croatia is among the countries with balanced imports and exports of air pollutants.
Apart from flood forests, Croatia is also rich in alpine forests, including beech and common fir in the country’s highlands. These forests are substantially damaged (38%), mostly due to acid rain (the concentration of metals in soil is very high). Over 70% of common fir populations have been irreversibly damaged.
According to the National Biological and Landscape Diversity Strategy and Action Plan (NBSAP), the most threatened areas are wetland and aquatic ecological systems. These systems were dried out significantly during the past for agricultural purposes. The best example is land improvement in the Neretva River Delta, which has devastated one of the most valuable Mediterranean wetlands. The most threatened habitats are spatially limited areas threatened by anthropogenic factors (sand and gravel beaches, pools on islands, small marshes and others), or rare habitats beyond the usual area of distribution (moors, sand vegetation). The relative preservation of the country's biological resources compared to the European standards is primarily the result of the general economic situation and other past causes.
Marine and coastal areas
The Adriatic Sea along Croatia is generally clean, according to the results of the monitoring of water quality along the coast performed regularly every year (on more than 700 spots) by the Public Health Institutes. However, some environmental hot spots can be identified, like the northern part of the Adriatic Sea, which is polluted from the Po River in Italy, which flows into the sea after passing through areas of intensive agriculture and Kastela Bay (near Split). The quality of the sea water on some beaches decreases in the vicinity of sewage outlets from larger urban agglomerations. Water quality is endangered in areas near the major sea ports. The problems are more obvious in the waters of Northern Adriatic, where the average depth is up to 20 meters. The coastal area of the country is home to 33% of the population, where the population density of 64 inhabitants per km2 is below the Croatian average of 85 inhabitants per km2.
The major environmental problems in Cyprus are droughts, forest fires, water shortage and pollution, waste, coastal degradation and loss of biodiversity. The small size of the island, the dry climate and intense pressures from tourism, etc, result in problems highly specific to the country (though shared with some other Mediterranean areas such as Malta).
However, in recent years the state of the environment has improved due to new legislation in the Greek part. The Turkish part shows more environmental problems than the Greek part, although some pressures (eg tourism) are less. (Republic of Cyprus – MANRE 2004/ CIA Factbook).
Being an island Cyprus is also exposed to sea level rise from climate change and together with other small island states (AOSIS), Cyprus was very active promoting international climate policy and the ratification of the Kyoto Protocol.
The problems affecting the coastal environment in Cyprus exhibit an overriding uniformity due to the small size of the island and the dominance of tourism development. In a sense, the coastal area of Cyprus, understood as the “area affected by the proximity to the sea” is the whole of Cyprus. The influence of the coastal environment is dominant in all of Cyprus. Not only the rapid pace of coastal development is the direct outcome of the proximity to the sea (which is obvious) but the economic and population decline of the hinterland areas are indirectly affected by the pull of resources to the coastal areas that offer diverse economic opportunities. Also, the development pressures, implementation constraints and policy issues are common to all coastal areas and underlie the development / environment interactions and the multiple threats to the quality of the coast. The pressures for the expansion of tourist zones, the loss of agricultural land, the transformation of village settlements into tourist centres, or the local reactions against various levels of coastal protection are uniform and share a common relationship to the whole policy and institutional framework.
Cyprus environmental issues fall into four ‘key’ sectors:
Air Quality: The main air quality issues which the Republic of Cyprus must address include:
· Implementation of EU air quality and emission standards.
· Control of mobile and stationary air pollution sources.
· Provisions for public information/notification when thresholds are exceeded.
· Establishment of a coordinated monitoring program.
· Assessment of air pollution-related health effects.
Water Quality: The water quality issues which the Republic of Cyprus has to face include ground water nitrate contamination from agricultural sources; surface water contamination; marine environment pollution; water conservation-water management; and water quality monitoring.
Waste management: Environmental issues for Cyprus include hazardous waste from mining and other industrial operations; solid waste management including both human and animal waste management; and waste management policy.
Industrial pollution control and risk management: Cyprus has no integrated management and control system in place concerning chemical substances, industrial wastewater and volatile organic compound emissions.
Environment - current issues: water resource problems (no natural reservoir catchments, seasonal disparity in rainfall, sea water intrusion to island's largest aquifer, increased salination in the north); water pollution from sewage and industrial wastes; coastal degradation; loss of wildlife habitats from urbanization
Under the Town and Country Planning Law of 1972, the government has the power to issue “reservation orders” in order to protect historic buildings, trees, or other specific points. Other conservation laws seek to preserve forests, restrict the hunting of wildlife, and maintain environmental health. The most significant environmental problems in Cyprus are water pollution, erosion, and wildlife preservation. The purity of the water supply is threatened by industrial pollutants, pesticides used in agricultural areas, and the lack of adequate sewage treatment. Other water resource problems include uneven rainfall levels at different times of the year and the absence of natural reservoir catchments. Cyprus has 0.2 cu mi of water, of which 91% is used for farming activity. One hundred percent of Cyprus' urban and rural dwellers have access to safe water. Another environmental concern is erosion, especially erosion of Cyprus's coastline. In accordance with the Foreshore Protection Law, several coastal areas have been zoned to prevent undesirable development. The Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources has primary responsibility for environmental matters. The expansion of urban centers threatens the habitat of Cyrpus' wildlife. As of 1994, one mammal species, 17 types of birds and 43 plant species in a total of 2,000 are threatened with extinction. About 20 species of flora are protected. The Cyprus mouflon or wild sheep is protected in the Paphos Forest game reserve.
http://ec.europa.eu/maritimeaffairs/climate_change/cyprus_en.pdf - Climate change impacts
http://climatecalendar.ca/country/cyprus – Climate change impacts
The development policies of the Communist era combined with a lack of attention to environmental issues produced serious environmental problems in the Czech Republic. Drinking-water supplies and much of the country’s soils are contaminated with heavy metals and other industrial and agricultural wastes. Air pollution is a serious problem in many cities, particularly in the region of northern Bohemia; pollution has also degraded many of the country’s forests. With outside funds, the post-Communist governments have begun to address the country’s environmental problems. Recent efforts include the closing of several lignite mines and stricter enforcement of environmental regulations. Environmental considerations have also led government officials to consider nuclear energy as a main source of power for the country’s future.
The Czech Republic produces most of its energy by burning domestic coal. Much of the coal burned is low quality with a high ash and sulfur content, producing high levels of air pollution. Forests in the Czech Republic are among the most seriously affected by acid rain in all of Europe. Fertilizer applications are uncontrolled. In some areas of the country the nitrate content is so high that the water is considered unsafe for human consumption.
The Czech Republic suffers from air, water, and land pollution caused by industry, mining, and agriculture. Lung cancer is prevalent in areas with the highest air pollution levels. In the mid-1990s, the nation had the world's highest industrial carbon dioxide emissions, totaling 135.6 million metric tons per year, a per capita level of 13.04 metric tons. Like the Slovak Republic, the Czech Republic has had its air contaminated by sulfur dioxide emissions resulting largely from the use of lignite as an energy source in the former Czechoslovakia, which had the highest level of sulfur dioxide emissions in Europe, and instituted a program to reduce pollution in the late 1980s. Western nations have offered $1 billion to spur environmental reforms, but the pressure to continue economic growth has postponed the push for environmental action.
The Czech Republic has a total of 15 cu km of freshwater resources, of which 1% is used for farming and 57% is used for industry. Both urban and rural dwellers have access to safe drinking water. Airborne emissions in the form of acid rain, combined with air pollution from Poland and the former GDR, have destroyed much of the forest in the northern part of the former Czechoslovakia. Land erosion caused by agricultural and mining practices is also a significant problem.
As of 2001, the endangered list included seven mammal species, six bird species, six types of freshwater fish, and seven plant species. Endangered species include the Atlantic sturgeon, slender-billed curlew, and Spengler's freshwater mussel.
In the period from 1950 to 1990, the emissions of sulphur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen oxides (NOx) increased steadily in former Czechoslovakia but this trend has been reversed in the last decade.
Carbon monoxide(CO) and hydrocarbon (CxHy) emissions also followed a similar, although less pronounced, trend. Greenhouse gas emissions (expressed as equivalent of CO2) decreased from 1990 to 1993 by more than 20%. Atmospheric emissions, ozone levels and atmospheric deposition (wet and dry) of sulphur, nitrogen, several heavy metals and other substances are constantly monitored (Ministry of Environment of the Czech Republic, 1998).
Low quality of drinking water, due to water pollution, is a major problem in the Czech Republic. Due to insufficient supplies of groundwater, 70% of drinking water is derived from reservoirs which have high levels of nitrates originating from sources such as fertilizers. Although 73.5% of the population is now connected to the sewage system, and 90.5% of released wastes from domestic and industrial sources is treated, the conventional treatment carried out by the sewage plants does not remove phosphorous from the water and this is released into rivers. The dissolved phosphorous proliferates algae and creates a problem of eutrophication. This phenomenon has been aggravated by the increase of phosphorous in detergents since 1987 (the polyphosphate production began in former Czechoslovakia).
Significant decreases in COD at all sites documents an improved situation in the treatment of industrial wastes. However, the marginal decreases in nitrates and the high concentrations of phosphorous indicate a problem of eutrophication and secondary pollution from phytoplankton production.
Land use and soils
The forest area in the Czech Republic is about 34% of total land area and has increased by approximately 1.5% over the last 30 years. Reforestation schemes implemented over the last two centuries also determined an increase of forest land.
Czech foresters have, however, for decades, planted a monoculture of spruce which covers 54% of the total forest area. This has resulted in forests which are more susceptible to damage caused by unfavourable climatic conditions and biological pests. Furthermore, the increasing emissions of sulphur and nitrogen oxides and dry deposition of pollutants have also caused defoliation and led to a decrease in soil pH levels. As a result, forests have become more susceptible to insect pests, such as the bark beetle. Since 1989, emissions have decreased and a recovery from acidification is already noticeable in lakes and rivers (Kopácek et al. 1997, Kopácek et al. 1998, Vrba et al. 1998).
As a consequence of economic and political changes, considerable arable land has been abandoned. There has been a 3% decrease in agricultural area during the last seven years. This land, especially in submontaneous and hilly region, is slowly turning to shrub and woodland (Mejstrík et al. 1995). In addition, the reduction of the levels of food production required for admission to the European Union, will result in a further decrease in agricultural land .
Monitoring of heavy metals and organic toxic substances (pesticides, PCB, PAH and others) has only begun recently, thus long-term data reviews are not available. Contamination of soils and river sediments by heavy metals and organic material is significant in some places and the risk of release to the environment is not know in detail. Contamination of the food chain for human use has been monitored since 1994 following the Decision of the Government of the Czech Republic No. 408 of June 10, 1992. Contaminants were investigated in more than 40 kinds of foodstuffs i.e.: Cd, Pb, Hg, As, PCBs, hexachlorbenzen, lindan and DDT (Ministry of Environment, 1998).
The main threats for biodiversity are: (i) loss or significant change of habitats (draining wetlands, increasing arable land to large areas, regulating rivers, monocultures, etc.) (ii) segmentation of natural bio-corridors (river dams, highways, etc.) (iii) acidification of water and soil (leading to extinction of species and whole trophic levels in some ecosystems) (iv) eutrophication (both nitrogen and phosphorus and other nutrients enrichments) (v) contamination by pesticides and other toxic chemicals and (vi) invasive species.
http://www.eea.europa.eu/soer/countries/cz/soertopic_view?topic=climate%20change – Climate change impacts
Egypt's environmental problems stem from its aridity, extremely uneven population distribution, shortage of arable land, and pollution. Soil fertility has declined because of overcultivation and agricultural land has been lost to urbanization and desert winds. In addition, the nation's beaches, coral reefs, and wildlife habitats are threatened by oil pollution. Heavy use of pesticides, inadequate sewage disposal, and uncontrolled industrial effluents have created major water pollution problems. The expanded irrigation of desert areas after completion of the Aswan High Dam in 1970 has increased soil salinity and aided the spread of waterborne diseases. As of 1994, 28% of Egypt's soils had been damaged by increased salinity. Egypt's cities produce 3.0 million tons of solid waste per year. Only 79% of the population living in rural areas have adequate sanitation facilities. Half of Cairo's raw sewage is carried to the sea in open sewers and some 100 of 120 towns do not have sewer systems at all. Even the existing sewers are decrepit; in December 1982, the bursting of a sewer main flooded a large area of Cairo with untreated waste and temporarily curtailed tap water for about 2 million people. To improve sewage disposal, the government earmarked E £2.9 billion under the 1983–87 five-year plan for sewage projects, allocating E £2 billion to Cairo alone. The nation has 1.8 cu km of renewable water resources, with 86% used for farming purposes. With recent improvements, about 97% percent of the population have access to pure water. The National Committee for Environment, within the Office of the Prime Minister, is the principal agency with environmental responsibilities.
Centuries of human habitation in the Nile Valley over the centuries has decimated Egypt's wildlife in that region. Altogether, less than 1% of Egypt's total land area is protected. The hunting of any bird has been prohibited by law. In 2000, 15 of Egypt's 98 mammal species, 11 birds, 6 types of reptiles and 1 type of amphibian were endangered. About 59 of the nation's 2,076 plant species were threatened with extinction. Endangered species include the Sinai leopard, northern bald ibis, and green sea turtle. The Bubal hartebeest, Egyptian barbary sheep, and Sahara oryx are extinct.
As a poor, developing country, Egypt faces a wide variety of pollution and other environmental problems associated with poverty. In this essay are reviewed the most severe environmental problems currently facing Egypt, as well as the range of policies which the government has assayed in order to manage them. Some of the widespread environmental problems are growing acute. Water pollution is seen as serious, and many new factories are being built without sufficient pollution control. There are real threats to agricultural productivity and public health. While many new institutional and legal steps have been undertaken in the last 7 years, most have failed to curb effectively mounting environmental stresses in the country. A rare counter-example is Mediterranean water quality, which is being helped by activation of UNEP's Mediterranean Action Plan.
The main energy-related environmental issues facing Egypt are air pollution, carbon emissions, energy consumption, and preservation of coastal areas.
The greater Cairo area, home to 15 million people, has the worst air pollution in Egypt. Fumes from Cairo's 1.2 million vehicles, combined with suspended particulate matter (including lead) plus sand blown into urban areas from the neighboring Western Desert, create an almost permanent haze over the city. Cairo also has high levels of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide. Air quality in Cairo and throughout Egypt is measured by an every-growing network of monitoring stations (42 stations in 2001) installed with the support of USAID. Air pollution in Egypt comes from a number of sources, including industrial sites, vehicular emissions, and smoke from burned garbage and agricultural detritus.
In 2000, fine particulate matter (PM10) was Egypt's largest air quality issue. PM10 is emitted primarily by industrial sources and vehicles and is very dangerous to human health as the fine particles can penetrate deep into people's lungs. NOx and SOx levels were generally within limits proscribed by Egyptian law in 2000, but in industrial areas or areas with traffic congestion levels, they were sometimes higher than both Egyptian and World Health Organization standards. Finally, lead levels, although still high, decreased 30% between 1999 and 2000. Lead pollution is a serious threat to human health because high lead concentrations in the blood can lead to high blood pressure, kidney problems, infertility, decreased I.Q. levels in children, and disorders to the nervous system.
The Cairo Air Improvement Project (CAIP), sponsored by EEAA and USAID has, over the past six years, addressed air pollution in metropolitan Cairo at a number of levels. To address fine particle emissions, CAIP instituted vehicular emissions testing, the first of its kind in Africa. CAIP also has pushed the use of compressed natural gas (CNG) as a fuel for municipal buses, private vehicles, and as energy for power plants throughout greater Cairo. As of 2001, 50 municipal buses were using CNG and multiple CNG fueling stations were set up throughout Cairo. A project cosponsored by the Climate Change Action Fund of Canada and EEAA aims to bring CNG motorcycles to Egypt. This will both lower PM10 and SOx emission from motorcycles and decrease their carbon emissions. To date, there are 50 fueling stations dispensing CNG to the 40,000 CNG vehicles in the Cairo metropolitan area.
Finally, CAIP has addressed the high levels of lead in Cairo by promoting the use of environmentally friendly technologies at lead smelting plants and by supporting the removal of such facilities away from populated areas. Four smelting plants have been relocated outside of Cairo, and the new facilities are equipped with advanced pollution-control technology to further reduce their lead emissions.
CAIP does not address one major cause of urban air pollution–the burning of garbage. Waste incineration in a large city can be easier and less expensive than treating the refuse, compacting it, or removing it from the city. However, fine particles are released when garbage is burned and can contribute to smog and damage human health. Rather than address this issue as an air pollution problem, Egypt has moved forward on a comprehensive waste management system that should eliminate the need for burning refuse in major cities. In 2000/2001 Egypt began the Integrated Solid Waste Management program to establish the regulatory framework in which effective waste management can operate. Over the past two years the program has progressed such that at the end of 2002 numerous sites were selected for further testing as potential landfills.
USAID, which has sponsored CAIP since 1997, ended its continuous support at year-end 2002. USAID will continue to provide technical training and some cash transfer funding for further air quality improvements, but the CAIP program has been turned over to the Government of Egypt. This transfer also marks the beginning of a transition in USAID environmental assistance to Egypt. Past programs generally have helped Egypt to establish a system of laws, regulations, and enforcement, as well as improved monitoring and the adoption of best practices and technologies. From FY2005, USAID intends to focus less on institutional infrastructure and more on actual environmental improvement.
Carbon and Energy-Related Emissions
Egypt is at risk from climate change in a number of ways. First the Nile River delta, already subsiding because upstream damming blocks sediment from reaching the delta, is at risk of salination and inundation by the Mediterranean if sea levels rise even slightly. In addition, Egypt relies on the annual flow of the Nile for nearly all its freshwater, so changes in rainfall patterns in the Nile Watershed could reduce available water resources, decimating Egypt's agriculture and undermining the hydroelectric power facility at Aswan. These threats to Egypt's environment have made the country highly cognizant of the detrimental effect that emissions of carbon and other greenhouse gases have on the Earth's atmosphere. As a non-Annex I country under the Convention, Egypt is not required to cut its carbon emissions. Although Egypt has not yet ratified the Protocol, it is a signatory, and Egypt stands to benefit from the Protocol's implementation.
Egypt's carbon emissions have risen 34% over the period 1990-2001, to 34.3 million metric tons of carbon. Egypt's carbon emissions were less than 0.5% of global emissions in 2001, and while per capita emissions have been increasing since 1950, they are still significantly lower than in most developed countries. In 2001, Egypt emitted 0.5 metric tons of carbon per person, while the United States emitted 5.5 metric tons of carbon per person and the European Union member states averaged 3.1 metric tons per person. While oil (72%) and coal (3%) make up three-quarters of the country's carbon emissions by fuel source, Egypt's growing market for natural gas, which makes up the other quarter, should help slow the increase in carbon emissions.
Egypt's rising level of energy consumption is a major factor behind the country's air pollution problems. Over the last 20 years, Egyptian energy consumption has risen by more than 200%, from 0.7 quadrillion Btu in 1980 to 2.1 quads in 2001. Despite this upward trend, Egypt still only accounts for 0.5% of total world energy consumption, and Egypt's energy consumption is still below that of other countries in the region; it is less than half of Iran's (5.2 quads) and Saudi Arabia's (4.9 quads).
Although Egypt's per capita energy consumption is on the rise, it is still well below the level of the United States and many European countries. Egypt's per capita energy consumption of 31.4 million Btu is significantly lower than US per capita consumption of 341.8 million Btu.
Oil's share of Egypt's energy consumption has been dropping rapidly over the past four years. In 1998, oil's share in energy consumption was nearly 69% while now it is only 54%–a 20% decrease. As Egypt's oil reserves decrease, the country is looking to reduce its consumption of oil. In addition to stemming the domestic consumption of oil (and freeing up oil to be exported for hard currency), the conversion of all oil-fired, power-generating plants in Egypt to natural gas will contribute to protecting the environment through cleaner air. In 2001, natural gas accounted for 36.6% of Egypt's total energy consumption.
Other Renewable Energy Sources
Aside from hydroelectricity, Egypt is boosting its use of renewable energies such as solar and wind power. Egypt has successfully begun a number of smaller projects and this one will bring 117 660 kilowatt wind turbines to the country. The contract for the installation of these turbines was awarded in May 2002. The project will generate 60 Mw of wind energy when completed.
The Government of Egypt has also been working with USAID to plan a combined natural gas/solar power plant in Egypt. Feasibility studies have been completed on the 127-MW plant, which will use solar energy during the day and natural gas at night. The plant, which has received funding from USAID and the Global Environmental Facility, is expected to cost $120 million and come online in 2006.
Egypt has also been experimenting with using photovoltaic (PV) panels to bring small amounts of electricity to rural areas away from the grid. PV panels have been used in rural areas to pump water from wells, to desalinate water, and to run small cookstoves. Although these types of projects are small-scale, bring even a little energy to people in rural areas can vastly improve their quality of life.
Air, water, and land pollution rank among Estonia's most significant environmental challenges. The combination of 300,000 tons of dust from the burning of oil shale by power plants in the northeast part of the country and airborne pollutants from industrial centers in Poland and Germany poses a significant hazard to Estonia's air quality.
Estonia's water resources have been affected by agricultural and industrial pollutants, including petroleum products, which have also contaminated the nation's soil. Some rivers and lakes within the country have been found to contain toxic sediments in excess of 10 times the accepted level for safety.
The nation's land pollution problems are aggravated by the 15 million tons of pollutants that are added yearly to the existing 250 million tons of pollutants. In 1994, 24,000 acres of the country's total land area were affected. Radiation levels from the nuclear accident at Chernobyl exceed currently accepted safety levels.
As of 2001, 11% of the total land area was protected, including 10 Wetlands of International importance. According to UN sources, 14 types of plants and 38 forms of lichens are extinct. As of 2001, the list of threatened species included four types of mammals, two types of birds, and one type of freshwater fish. The European mink and the Atlantic sturgeon are among those listed as endangered.
Environment - current issues: air polluted with sulfur dioxide from oil-shale burning power plants in northeast; however, the amount of pollutants emitted to the air have fallen steadily, the emissions of 2000 were 80% less than in 1980; the amount of unpurified wastewater discharged to water bodies in 2000 was 1/20 the level of 1980; in connection with the start-up of new water purification plants, the pollution load of wastewater decreased; Estonia has more than 1,400 natural and manmade lakes, the smaller of which in agricultural areas need to be monitored; coastal seawater is polluted in certain locations.
One of the most burdensome legacies of the Soviet era is widespread environmental pollution. The worst offender in this regard was the Soviet army. Across military installations covering more than 800 km² of Estonian territory, the army dumped hundreds of thousands of tons of jet fuel into the ground, improperly disposed of toxic chemicals, and discarded outdated explosives and weapons in coastal and inland waters. In the 1990s, during the army's withdrawal from Estonia, extensive damage was done to discarded buildings and equipment. In October 1993, the Estonian Ministry of Environment issued a preliminary report summing up part of the degradation it had surveyed thus far. The report described the worst damage as having been done to Estonia's topsoil and underground water supply by the systematic dumping of jet fuel at six Soviet army air bases. At the air base near Tapa, site of the worst damage, officials estimated that six square kilometers of land were covered by a layer of fuel; 11 square kilometers of underground water were said to be contaminated. The water in the surrounding area was undrinkable. With Danish help, Estonian crews began cleaning up the site, although they estimated the likely cost to be as much as EKR4 million. The Ministry of Environment assigned a monetary cost of more than EKR10 billion to the damage to the country's topsoil and water supply. However, the ministry was able to allocate only EKR5 million in 1993 for cleanup operations.
In a 1992 government report to the United Nations Conference on the Environment and Development, Estonia detailed other major environmental concerns. For instance, for several consecutive years Estonia had led the world in the production of sulfur dioxide per capita. Nearly 75 % of Estonia's air pollution was reported to come from two oil shale-based thermal power stations operating near Narva. The mining of oil shale in northeastern Estonia has also left large mounds of limestone tailings and ash dotting the region. Near the town of Sillamäe, site of a former uranium enrichment plant, about 1,200 tons of uranium and about 750 tons of thorium had been dumped into a reservoir on the shore of the Gulf of Finland. This was said to have caused severe health problems among area residents. In the coastal town of Paldiski, the removal of waste left by Soviet army nuclear reactors was also a major concern. The combined cost of environmental cleanup at both towns was put at more than EKR3.5 billion.
Natural hazards: flooding occurs frequently in the spring in certain areas.
Environment – current issues: air heavily polluted with sulfur dioxide from oil-shale burning power plants in northeast; contamination of soil and groundwater with petroleum products, chemicals at former Soviet military bases; Estonia has more than 1,400 natural and artificial lakes, the smaller of which in agricultural areas are heavily affected by organic waste; coastal sea water is polluted in many locations. The HBV hydrological transport model has been used to analyze water pollution issues in Estonia's rivers and in the Baltic Sea.
http://www.climatecalendar.ca/country/estonia – Climate change impacts
Air pollution from metallurgical plants is a problem in Macedonia, as in the other former Yugoslav republics. In 1996, industrial carbon dioxide emissions totaled 12.7 million metric tons. All urban dwellers have access to safe drinking water. Earthquakes are a natural hazard. Forest and woodland cover 30% of the nation's land area. As of 2001, approximately 7.1% of Macedonia's total land area was protected, including one World Heritage Site and one Wetland of International Importance. As of 2001, the list of threatened species included 10 types of mammals and 3 types of bird. Endangered species include the field adder, Apollo butterfly, and noble crayfish.
Macedonia has environmental problems typical of the region, including air and water pollution—especially around Skopje—and disappearing forests. Of particular concern is air pollution from metallurgical plants.
Major polluters of surface and ground waters are households’ and industrial sewage systems, while in agricultural areas polluters are livestock waste from farms and farming industry (milk and meat industry, slaughterhouses, etc.). Waters are directly discharged without any treatment. Zinc, lead and cadmium are recorded in Vardar River, downstream from smelter facilities. Cadmium was found in several other rivers, to concentrations above the norm, as well as phosphorus and nitrates.
Chemical industry, leather production, food production and metallurgic industry are all severe polluters of the water, among them most dangerous being copper mine and metal resurfacing factory.
Existing data on air pollution and gas emissions are incoherent and fragmented. However, due to decline of industrial production from early 1990s, the emission of pollutants has decreased by 50%, according to the State Agency for statistics, and has not rise significantly ever since. Industry is, nevertheless, major air polluter, with significant environmental pressure originating from metallurgic sector.
Thermal power plants provide Macedonia with 80% of its energy demands, while rest is being covered from hydro-electric plants production.
About 50% of the state territory is agricultural land. Use of pesticides and reports on its proportions are scarce, although existing reports show that pesticide use significantly dropped since mid 1980s over ten years (form 2,700 tons to 659t). Overall conclusion is that all air, water and soil are severely contaminated, when even protected lake Ohrid suffers from euthrophication, due to waste water inflow.
Reports on climate change consequences show expectations of general temperature rise, mostly in summer periods, with intensive decrease of precipitation in all seasons except winter. Ohrid and Prespa lake regions are expected to have mildest response to global changes of the climate, while alpine regions (high mountains’ altitudes) are expected to have a dramatic response. Macedonian high mountain ranges, therefore would suffer the same consequences as other mountain regions of the world, i.e. snow and ice melting and loss of alpine ecosystems biodiversity.
(an overview of the country's environmental problems and solutions – REC 1994)
In order to make Macedonia, formerly rural and poor, a modern and prosperous country, the Yugoslav communist regime established many factories, often highly polluting. These factories, located mainly in the regions of Veles and Skopje are still functioning. The emissions of waste pollutants have decreased after 1991, when independence is, because many companies have gone bankrupt or have reduced their activity after the transition to a market economy.
The other danger of degradation of nature lies in waste. Indeed, only the city of Skopje has a processing center for household waste in the rest of the country, so they are left in open dumps. The lack of resources and political will behind these fatal neglect for the environment.
Macedonia is also experiencing serious problems in water management. The country, which has a hot and arid summer climate, however should be able to secure its water through its dams and its sources. In summer, water restrictions are common. The summer period is also marked by the devastation of forests by fire. In 2008, six million trees were planted in Macedonia to regenerate damaged forests.
Land degradation: In terms of land degradation and erosion Macedonia is one of the most vulnerable Balkan countries. In 1993 it was estimated that 96.5% of total area of the country was affected by erosion. This is due to the mountainous landscape, historical and continuing unsustainable agricultural practices, and climatic variability with intense rainfalls and aridity. Water erosion is the dominant type of erosion in Macedonia. Intense and concentrated rains cause landslides, soil erosion and local floods. Furthermore, significant part of erosion deposits occurs in natural lakes and reservoirs. Approximately 17 million m3 of arable soil is lost every year with significant costs. The major problems causing soil degradation in rural areas are poor agricultural practices, especially inefficient irrigation schemes, the overuse of chemical fertilizers and pesticides, and mining operations. Moreover, about 30 000- 80 000 ha of irrigated agricultural land is vulnerable to salinization and land degradation. Another problem affecting land degradation are forest fires and illegal logging. Also, abandonment of agricultural areas has in some places contributed to a reduction of erosion, but in mountain areas lack of maintenance of terraces may actually have increased erosion. Analyses show that soil in urban and industrial areas is contaminated with heavy metals and organic chemicals. Mining sites represent 27 % of all sources of contamination.
Forest degradation: Over 35% of Macedonia’s total land area is forested and one third of natural forest in Macedonia is preserved. Illegal logging and human induced forest fires are a growing area of concern. Macedonia has been heavily exposed to forest fires. During the last ten years around 100 000 ha of forests have been affected by forest fires. Of which 95% are estimated to be caused by humans. Wood from forests is being used for fuel wood, both through legal and illegal logging. In some areas of the Prespa basin high pressure on forest resources is likely to occur and the inadequate forest management has led to reduction of certain plant species used solely for timber. Despite the relatively small formal economic importance of the forestry sector, the forests have a large non-economic importance, especially for the maintenance of biodiversity and ecosystems services.
Loss of biodiversity and ecosystem services: Macedonia has a rich flora and fauna with over 380 known animal species and 3500 higher plant species. There are several direct and indirect threats leading to loss of biodiversity and loss of ecosystem services. Agricultural activity, infrastructure (e.g. construction of hydropower reservoirs), industry and mining (abandoned mines) have negative impact on and constitute a threat to biodiversity. Forest degradation is another potential threat. Despite forest protection to date, natural forests and those richest in biodiversity are still in decline. The forests in the Prespa lake basin constitute a wide range of habitat types, e.g. the rare oak forests which in Europe only exists in Macedonia and northern parts of Greece. Illegal hunting is reported to be a serious issue in the area of the Prespa basin. However, there are no exact figures on hunted game numbers available. Agricultural production and the increase of modern, high productive crop types have led to significant loss of biodiversity. The rate of urbanisation has also had an adverse effect on biodiversity.
Air pollution: Air quality problems are particularly pronounced around the areas of major cities, thus potentially affecting 60% of the total population. Air pollution in Macedonia is mainly derived from energy production and transformation, fuels combustion, heat production for industry and residential and administrative buildings heating. There is a significant lack of equipment and modern technology causing major air pollution. Together with the increasing level of industrial activity there is also an increase of the emissions of SO2, NOx and dust. Energy production and transports are the major pollutants of NOx. Air pollution from transports is in direct relation to the quality of the fuel that is used, and to age structure of the vehicle fleet.
Water stress and pollution: Macedonia is classified as a semi-arid area which makes the use, protection and conservation of water resources highly important. Although the country is fairly rich in water resources due to its great lakes Ohrid, Prespa and Dorjan, it is considered to be water stressed. Water quality of most surface waters and groundwater is low. The major polluters are discharges of municipal or industrial wastewater. In the agricultural north-east, there is significant pollution from livestock waste and food industries. The major water consumers are agriculture, industry (especially production of chemicals, food, non-ferrous metal and textile), households and energy production. The uneven precipitation and supplies of surface waters imply that the water demand for food production is not totally met. Furthermore, there are indications that agricultural production contributes to land based pollution such as sedimentation from soil erosion and agrochemical pollution from uncontrolled use of fertilizers and pesticide which also affect water bodies. In rural areas large scale pig-farming, poultry breading and livestock contributes to pollution of both surface and groundwater. There are limited wastewater treatment plants in the industrial sector and no systematic monitoring of industrial water exists In general, polluted wastes are discharged directly into receiving water bodies without any treatment. Groundwater is of utmost importance. However, there is a lack of continuous groundwater observations and analysis of groundwater yields. Around 2% of the total territory is wetlands and natural lakes. The quality of these water sources are endangered by uncontrolled waste water discharge and water abstraction, tourist activities and unfavourable weather conditions, which could be further aggravated by climate change.
Insufficient waste management cause severe problems for water, air and land resources. Most landfills are inadequately designed. There are large numbers of illegal dump sites (approximately around 1000 sites) and so far none of the existing landfills in the country complies with the EU standards. Furthermore, there are very limited systems of separating recyclable material and hazardous components of waste.
Climate change and disaster risks: Climate change will add to existing stresses, particularly water scarcity, land degradation, loss of biodiversity, and natural disasters. It is estimated that water run-off could decrease by up to 25% in some areas by 2100. Due to the hot and dry conditions, forest fires are likely to intensify and become more frequent.
Georgia suffers from pollution of its air, water, and soil. Air pollution is especially heavy in Rust'avi. In 1996, Georgia's industrial carbon dioxide emissions totaled 2.9 million metric tons. The Mtkvari River and the Black Sea are both heavily polluted. Pesticides from agricultural areas have significantly contaminated the soil. In 2001, 2.8% of Georgia's total land area was protected. As of 2001, 10 mammal species, 5 bird species, and 7 reptile species were threatened. Species on the endangered list include Atlantic sturgeon, slender-billed curlew, Mediterranean monk seals, Darevsky's viper, and the Armenian birch mouse.
Beginning in the 1980s, Black Sea pollution has greatly harmed Georgia's tourist industry. Inadequate sewage treatment is the main cause of that condition. In Batumi, for example, only 18 percent of wastewater is treated before release into the sea. An estimated 70 percent of surface water contains health-endangering bacteria to which Georgia's high rate of intestinal disease is attributed.
The war in Abkhazia did substantial damage to the ecological habitats unique to that region. In other respects, experts considered Georgia's environmental problems less serious than those of more industrialized former Soviet republics. Solving Georgia's environmental problems was not a high priority of the national government in the post-Soviet years, however; in 1993 the minister for protection of the environment resigned to protest this inactivity. In January 1994, the Cabinet of Ministers announced a new, interdepartmental environmental monitoring system to centralize separate programs under the direction of the Ministry of Protection of the Environment. The system would include a central environmental and information and research agency. The Green Party used its small contingent in the parliament to press environmental issues in 1993.
Major environmental problems creating potential threats to the socio the socio-economic and political stability at national and regional levels:
l Deterioration of the environment as well as depletion of natural resources can become a direct or indirect cause of social tension and political conflicts both at national and regional levels.
l Unsustainable use of forest and other natural resources
l Land degradation/ desertification
l Lack of relevant data on Persistent Organic Pollutants
Like other republics of the USSR, Georgia suffered severe environmental degradation during the Soviet period, when economic policies emphasizing heavy industry were implemented with little regard for their environmental consequences. Significant amounts of agriculture lands have been lost in land erosions. As a legacy of these policies, Georgia now suffers from serious pollution. Municipal waste is disposed in poorly managed landfills. Air pollution is a problem in the major cities, particularly in Rustavi, which has a giant steel plant and other metal and chemicals production. Traffic is another great contributor to the pollution of an air. Furthermore, the Kura River and the Black Sea are heavily polluted with industrial waste. As a result of water pollution and the scarcity of water treatment, the incidence of digestive diseases in Georgia is high.
Due to low production and low economic development, the industrial waste has significantly decreased during late 1990s and early 2000s, however at the moment there are no industrial waste treatment facilities, therefore all the waste produced is being disposed into the environment without a treatment. The use of pesticides and fertilizers has increased soil toxicity as during 1980s up to 30,000 tons of pesticides have been used in Georgia annually.
The biggest threat to the environment are over 2,5 tons of hazardous chemicals that have been buried at the Mt. Iagluji, at the depth of 20 meters, over 10 years, since mid 1970s. Georgia does not energy resources and it is dependant on Russian gas and oil. Environmental protection did not become a major concern among Georgians until the mid-1980s, but even then systems to control harmful emissions were not readily available. Georgia’s economic problems have hindered the application of recent emission-control technologies. Hardship and low life quality forced people to over use natural resources, particularly firewood. The protection of upland pastures and hill farms from soil erosion is another pressing issue that the government has not addressed owing to lack of economic resources. The government has ratified international environmental agreements pertaining to air pollution, biodiversity, climate change, ozone layer protection, ship pollution, and wetlands.
Global warming has quite similar effects on all high mountains, therefore Caucasus region faces the same threat as, for example the Alps, in Europe, the Rocky Mt. in the USA, the Andes of south America or Kilimanjaro Mt. in east Africa. Glaciers in North Caucasus have retreated for 50% in the 20th century, with most drastic changes since 1998. Melting of snow and ice sheet changes the water regime within the region, where most people depend on reserves of water preserved in glaciers over winter, which are being released during the summer, depending on hydropower of rivers formed by glaciers, and their contribution to agriculture. Avalanches on Caucasus always posed a threat, however, with the higher average temperatures, melting snow may cause these catastrophes to occur much more frequent.
Followed by these habitat and ecosystem changes, biodiversity of Caucasus is vanishing. This region is known as biodiversity hotspot, teeming with life, since it represented on of the greatest European refugium for species, during The Great Ice Age. Today, life in Caucasus is threatened with both direct human activity within the area, and global consequences of human activity, such as greenhouse gases emission and warming.
Among Greece's principal environmental problems are industrial smog and automobile exhaust fumes in metropolitan Athens. Over half of all industry is located in the greater Athens area. From June to August 1982, the air pollution became so oppressive that the government closed down 87 industries, ordered 19 others to cut production, and banned traffic from the city center. In July 1984, the smog again reached the danger point, and 73 factories were ordered to cut production and cars were banned from the city. In January 1988, the number of taxis in the center of Athens was halved, and private cars were banned from the city's three main thoroughfares. The smog regularly sends hundreds of Greeks to the hospital with respiratory and heart complaints. Greece is among the 50 nations with the world's highest levels of industrial carbon dioxide. In 1992, it ranked 37th, with emissions totaling 73.8 million metric tons, a per capita level of 7.25. In 1996, the total rose to 80.6 million metric tons. Greece's pollution problems are the result of almost complete disregard for environmental protection measures during the rapid industrial growth of the 1970s, compounded by unbalanced development and rapid, unregulated urban growth. Water pollution is a significant problem due to industrial pollutants, agricultural chemicals such as fertilizers and pesticides, and sewage. The Gulf of Saronikos is one of the most polluted areas because 50% of Greece's industrial facilities are located there. Greece has 54 cu km of renewable water resources with 81% used for farming and 3% used for industrial purposes. The nation's cities produce about 3.5 million tons of solid waste per year. Government policies have emphasized rational use of natural resources, balanced regional development, protection of the environment, and increased public participation in environmental matters. Four environmental and planning services were consolidated under the Ministry for Physical Planning, Housing, and the Environment.
In 2001, 13 of Greece's mammal species and 10 of its bird species were endangered. Six types of reptiles and 16 types of freshwater fish were also endangered. Of the nation's 4,000-plus plant species, 446 were threatened with extinction. Endangered species include the Mediterranean monk seal, the hawksbill turtle, Atlantic sturgeon, and the large copper butterfly.
Current issues: air pollution/water pollution
Acid rain is a widespread problem throughout Greece, which affects not only agricultural aspects of the environment, as well as affecting the health of Greece's lakes, but also man-made buildings too. Acid rain has had a detrimental effect upon the Parthenon and other Ancient Monuments in Athens though a partial reconstruction process has been underway for some time now.
In the summer of 2008 Greece suffered heavily from arson induced forest fires which stripped the country of a significant proportion of its forest
Greece is a signatory member of the Kyoto Protocol but there has been much sharp criticism from the failure to meet their intended targets for cutting carbon emissions, many have claimed that policies have not been tough enough and the protocol has not been implemented in full owing to large business interests, though the Government denies this. The Government has also attracted sharp criticism about its waste management plans, as has the Mayor of Athens, though there are plans for new plants to be built to deal with the surplus of waste the city has. However, spatial planning is being promoted for the protection of resources from exhaustion, destruction and pollution and is part of a wider Government plan addressing Environmental issues. The Athens Metro has also relieved some pressure in terms of car pollution in Athens and the planned Thessaloniki Metro will undoubtedly help the situation there too. The municipality of Athens has also announced a plan to deal with pollution in the city, though the exact details are as yet known.
Rapid industrialization in Greece during the 1970s has resulted in heavy pollution. Especially air pollution, a serious environmental problem in Athens, where the government called 19 air pollution emergencies between 1982 and 1989. In addition to causing respiratory problems, the smog erodes marble and other stone and has pocked and discolored many of the country's priceless monuments and statues. Pollution monitoring stations have been installed throughout metropolitan Athens and in numerous other Greek cities. Recent efforts have reduced air pollution from heating and industry. Although motor vehicles must comply with emission standards, automobile exhaust, particularly from diesel-powered vehicles, is still a major pollution agent. Water pollution is also a problem, especially in the gulfs of Saronikos and Thermaikos, where untreated industrial wastes, sewage, and municipal wastewater are discharged.
Over the course of many years, pollution has become a major problem in Greece. Since World War II, where there were an increase of industrial activities, motor vehicles, and foreign tourists, Greece’s natural environment has been severely threatened. As a response so this situation, the Greek government has passed many bills and laws in an attempt to create a better environment. Unfortunately, compared to the other European nations, Greece has not been the swiftest in protecting their own environment.
In major cities such as Athens, air pollution is inevitable. A past incident where there was severe incident of smog, many people had to be hospitalized due to respiratory problems. The reason for the heavily polluted area in Athens is partly due to the fact that there is no clear plan to the reconstruction activities that began after World War II. That is to say, the Greek government did not create strategic plans such that the reconstruction areas would be in safe distance from the areas where the people live. The same problem, although to a lesser extent, occurs in Thessaloniki. This happens because about half of the vehicles in Greece are in these two cities, serving as additional pollutant to the already polluting reconstruction areas.
As a result of industrialization, not only is the Greek air polluted, but also its water. The quality of water in the Meditteranean area has declined, and Greece plays a major role in this matter. The only way for them to dispose of the waste from the factories is to direct them to the sea, and this is the precise reason as to why the Greek water is heavily polluted. Between the year 1987 to 1993, there was an extended drought, causing the decrease in both the quantity and quality of the water.
As a result of the droughts, in addition to uncontrolled use of fertilizers and by soil erosion, the quality of the Greek soil has also been affected. This has caused great desertification in many agricultural areas, resulting in many farmers’ losing their business.
http://wwf.panda.org/about_our_earth/aboutcc/problems/rising_temperatures/hotspot_map/greece.cfm – Climate change impacts
Chemical pollution of the air and water is extensive, but resources to combat pollution are scarce: a 1996 government study estimated that US $350 million were needed to combat pollution, but only US $7 million were allocated for this purpose. According to the study, air pollution affects 179 areas of the country, soil pollution affects 54 areas, and water pollution affects 32. Hungary is also one of 50 nations that lead the world in industrial carbon dioxide emissions, with a 1992 total of 59.9 million metric tons, a per capita level of 5.72 metric tons. Hungary has 6 cu km of renewable water resources, with 70% used for industrial purposes and 5% used for farming activity. The nation's cities produce about 1.9 million tons of solid waste. Hungary's principal environmental agency is the National Council for Environment and Nature Conservation, under the auspices of the Council of Ministers. In 1992, the United Nations reported the extinction of 93 species of Hungary's plants and animals. As of 2001, 8 of Hungary's mammal species and 10 of its bird species were endangered. Eight plant species were also endangered. Endangered species included the longicorn, the alcon large blue butterfly, the dusky large blue butterfly, and the Mediterranean mouflon.
Rapid industrialization in Hungary contributed significantly to a number of major environmental problems, including air, water, and soil pollution. Emissions from automobiles and electric power plants have created most of the air pollution. A significant percentage of the country’s forests, waterways, and buildings suffer damage from acid rain, which is caused by sulfur dioxide in the air. Winds carry Hungary’s polluted air into neighboring countries, where it has caused similar problems.
River, lake, and groundwater pollution in Hungary are the result of industrial runoff, much of which is untreated when it enters the water. Insufficiently treated sewage also contributes to water pollution, as a large percentage of the country’s population does not have access to adequate sanitation facilities. Hungary’s Lake Balaton, the largest lake in central Europe, is severely polluted.
Soils are also susceptible to pollution from chemical runoff from local industries. Because Hungary shares its major waterway, the Danube, with other European countries, pollution problems affecting neighboring countries often affect Hungary as well, and vice versa.
Reforestation efforts have allowed the country to steadily gain forestland. About 6.8 percent (1997) of Hungary’s land is protected in parks and other reserves, preventing development but not the ill effects of acid rain and water pollution.
Hungary is party to international treaties concerning air pollution, biodiversity, climate change, endangered species, hazardous wastes, and wetlands.
Pollution and toxicity
Pollution and toxicity are major environmental problems. The interaction between pollution, loss of biodiversity and land quality frequently makes prioritisation difficult. Therefore these problems must be considered together.
With regard to air pollution, the emission of sulphur dioxide and particulate matter had already decreased before 1990 as a result of the use of nuclear power, the gas programme and the introduction of new technologies in oil processing. In the 1990s further drastic reductions occurred (e.g. emission of sulphur dioxide decreased from one million to 670 thousand tons per year between 1990 and 1996 (Hungarian Central Statistical Office, 1999) when heavy industry collapsed as a result of political changes. At the same time some resources were invested to reduce pollution.
The amount of nitrogen oxide emission has not changed significantly and discharge deriving from traffic remains almost constant. A great achievement of the past few years, however, is the significant decrease in lead emission originating from the reduction in the use of leaded petrol (lead emission decreased from 634 to 126 thousand tons per year from 1980 to 1996). In 1999, leaded petrol was totally eliminated from the market and this will further reduce pollution. The use of chemicals depleting ozone layer has been reduced by 70% between 1990 and 1997 (HSCO 1999).
Methane is the only significant agricultural air pollutant. The decrease of emissions since 1990 is the result of a reduction in fuel consumption for financial reasons. The emission of methane also decreased due to a decline in stock numbers.
Despite improvements following economic and political changes, air quality is still unsatisfactory. 3.9% of the territory of Hungary suffers from considerable air pollution and 9.3% from moderate pollution. Nearly half of the population is living in polluted urban and industrial areas (GRID 1998).
Water pollution is another serious problem in Hungary. The country's geographical position means that it receives only 11% of the catchment area of the Danube, while 95% of surface water comes from other countries. This water is subject to considerable pollution from foreign sources. Even land use in the neighbouring countries can have a major effect on water quality and quantity (floods) in Hungary. The quality of water is directly related to the availability of freshwater.
The number of sources discharging waste and used water into surface water has increased drammatically in the last few years: from 7 187 in 1994 to 56 903 in 1997 (HCSO 1999). Economic changes have brought a reduction of water consumption (877 million m3 in 1980 and 817 million m3 in 1997, HCSO 1997). The development of water treatment resulted in treating double the amount of water. In 1997, 60% of the population was connected to public sewerage. Among the regularly monitored discharges, 45% comes from urban areas.
In 1996, two million m3 of waste water were discharged to surface waters transporting 430 tons of organic matter each day. This can cause eutrophication, oxygen deficiency, fishery and human health problems (GRID 1998). The high level of organic matter is partly due to poor agricultural practices leading to soil erosion (e.g. use of heavy machinery, lack of erosion control).
Agriculture activities, such as irrigation practices, the use of fertilisers or liquid manure, the application of herbicides and pesticides, exert an important influence on water quality. However, in the past few years agricultural production has taken on a more extensive, and at the same time, less environmentally polluting character (Szabó 1999). For example, the use of fertilizers has decreased from 1045 thousand tons in 1980 to 350 thousand tons in 1997 (HCSO 1997).
Human activities have a significant effect on the hydro-geological character, quantity and quality of ground water. Nitrate contamination of shallow ground water is caused by the lack of sewage treatment or inappropriate use of liquid manure (GRID 1998). Industrial areas are characterised by heavy metal and hydrocarbon contamination of ground water, especially where mining activities destroy protecting layers. On the other hand, due to improvements in drinking water supplies, the number of settlements having undrinkable water has been significantly reduced in the past 7 years, from 475 in 1990 to 33 in 1997 (HCSO 1999).
Soil quality and soil processes are influenced by human activities such as industry, traffic, urban development, landfill, mining, waste deposits and agricultural practices. These activities also exert major effects on land quality. Over 66% of the territory of Hungary is dominated by agricultural production. Agricultural practices mostly focus on improving soil in the short term. Land property rights are also important for sustainable land use: the fact that there is no link between land use and land ownership demotivates farmers to take long-term effects into consideration (Szabó 1999).
There are about ten thousand polluted localities in Hungary. Although soils have a remarkable self-regenerating, buffering and storing capacity, heavily polluted soils, such as those in the former soviet military camps and airports, need to be improved by programmes such as those under the Environmental Remediation Programme (GRID 1998).
In Hungary almost 110 million tons of waste is produced each year. Only 30% of communal landfills meet the environmental standards to varying degrees (GRID 1998). The amount of municipal solid waste has increased during the last few years (17 thousand m3 in 1990, 19 thousand m3 in 1997), a great part of which is discharged in an uncontrolled manner (16% in 1997). About 40% of municipal solid waste contains potential secondary raw material that is not re-used. However, the total amount of hazardous waste generated in Hungary has decreased from 4.4 million tons to 2.6 million tons between 1991 and 1996. The majority of hazardous waste (72%) is of mineral origin i.e. metal waste or waste of chemical conversion (HCSO 1999).
Loss of biodiversity
The intensification of agriculture and rapid development of industry in the 1800's in Hungary, as elsewhere in Europe, constituted a threat to biota at all levels (genetic, population, habitat and landscape). However, the extension of Hungary's land, its diversified geomorphology and transitional type of climatic zone, has ensured a relative equilibrium in nature. Secondary habitats of high natural value, such as hay meadows and the alkaline grasslands, have also been created. The variety of bed rock types provides habitats for different species groups. The present, rather low, level of industrialisation and infrastructure contribute to the protection of such habitats. Due to a certain isolation of the country during the communist period, unknown natural values were found in the early 1990's (Kiraly et al. 1999).
Although public awareness of environmental issues in Hungary has grown over the last few years, the situation is still problematic. Severe threats remain in the form of habitat loss, extinction of species less able to adapt to environmental changes, the reduction in number of variations of species and invasion by alien species. Intensive agricultural practices, poorly controlled deforestation, agricultural, industrial and human pollution are the principal direct causes for biodiversity loss. Efforts have been made recently to comply with EU regulations regarding sustainable agricultural practices but the transfer of property rights into private hands has made controls difficult to enforce. Short-term interests, with little regard for sustainability, continue to be a problem (Megyery 1998).
Agriculture is not the only reason for habitat loss. Urbanisation, industrialisation and development of infrastructure pose major threats. However, the 1995 Act on the Regulation of the Protection of the Environment (Act LIII) imposed strict regulations on the issue of building permits. Other problems for the environment arise from factors such as lowering of the water table, changes in agricultural management (e.g. cessation of mowing of hay meadows) etc. In areas of low agricultural production, it is likely that agriculture will be abandoned and rehabilitation programmes will encourage expansion of natural habitat areas.
The invasion of alien species, principally from America but also from Asia, can impact significantly on nature. Deterioration in different types of habitats usually results in extinction of rare species since alien species, which are more resistant, tend to take over these habitats. This can result in loss of biodiversity.
Fragmentation of habitats caused by different types of land use is another threat to biodiversity at all levels. It is now recognised that linear objects like railway, roads, pipelines and artificial canals separate habitats in a way that is harmful to biological diversity. Several technical solutions have been designed (such as frog tunnels) to reduce the influence of fragmentation. There are several examples for such investments in Hungary. Unfortunately these efforts are focused on new establishments.
Pollution of all the components of the environment causes biodiversity loss. The different sensitivity of species to pollutants results in a change of species composition: in most cases the rare species with narrow tolerance become extinct. Urban and industrial regions tend to produce high amounts of pollutants and this results in the impoverishment of surrounding habitats.
Tourism is a problem particularly in the scenic, more often hilly, areas. In the Buda and Visegrád mountains, which are close to the capital, rock grasslands are damaged by trampling. These valuable local habitats are the home of ornamental and aromatic plants which are removed indiscriminately by visitors. Rock grasslands also suffer overgrazing of moufflons (Ovis musimon), an introduced game species.
The Carpathian Basin is well suited for agricultural production: arable lands and grasslands have covered the lowlands for centuries. Soil erosion on slopes, caused by precipitation and wind, occurs in the Middle-Range and in the higher parts of the Transdanubian region. Erosion causes loss of the humus content in the soil, a change in texture and reduced productivity potential. Some alluvial areas have been exposed to sedimentation during floods. This process has been halted or greatly restricted through the building of dikes in the last century.
During the 1960's, considerable financial resources were invested in very large arable lands which could be worked with heavy machinery. The excessive size of the plots, the changes in the water drainage system as a result of the filling in of ditches and soil erosion, resulted in severe flooding in 1998, when rainfall was unusually high. In 1999 violent rainstorms raised water levels in various small rivers, again causing flooding. It is estimated that one-third of Hungary's territory is affected by intensifying soil decay and erosion (HCSO 1999).
Availability of freshwater resources
A large part of the population is dependent on bank-filtered water (e.g. Budapest). The exploitable bank-filtred water is 7, 5 million m3 per day in Hungary, whereas the sub-surface dynamic water resources in the mountains reaches only around 1, 5 million m3 per day (HSCO 1999). Bank-filtered wellheads are endangered by river and surface pollution. Dredging of the river beds, anaerobic conditions in the sediment and increased speed of ground water flow also deteriorate the quality of this type of water (GRID 1998).
The level of the water table underwent a remarkable decrease in the 70s and 80s in Hungary as a result of overuse, drought and excessive canalisation. In the Danube-Tisza interfluvial region the water table decreased by 50 mm each year. This process has slowed down and even halted in some areas due to elevated precipitation and efforts to retain water by closing canals.
http://climatecalendar.ca/country/hungary – Climate change impacts
As of 2000, water pollution and adequate water supply are major environmental issues in Israel. Industrial and agricultural chemicals threaten the nation's already depleted water supply. Israel has only 1.9 cu km of renewable water resources with 64% used for farming activity and 7% used for industrial purposes. About 80% of the people living in rural areas have pure water. Air pollution from industrial sources, oil facilities, and vehicles is another significant environmental problem. In 1996, Israel's industrial carbon dioxide emissions totaled 52.3 million metric tons.
Reforestation efforts, especially since 1948, have helped to conserve the country's water resources and prevent soil erosion. Israel has reclaimed much of the Negev for agricultural purposes by means of large irrigation projects, thereby stopping the desertification process that had been depleting the land for nearly 2,000 years. Principal environmental responsibility is vested in the Environmental Protection Service of the Ministry of the Interior. In 2001, 13 mammal species and 8 bird species were endangered. Nineteen species of plants were threatened with extinction. Endangered species included the northern bald ibis, South Arabian leopard, Saudi Arabian dorcas gazelle, and three species of sea turtles. The Mediterranean monk seal, cheetah, Barbary sheep, and Persian fallow deer became extinct in the 1980s. The Israel painted frog and Syrian wild ass have also become extinct.
Israel has a large number of environmental concerns ranging from natural hazards to man-made issues both resulting from ancient times to modern development. Natural hazards facing the country include sandstorms which sometimes occur during spring in the desert south, droughts which are usually concentrated in summer months, flash floods which create great danger in the deserts due to their lack of notice, and regular earthquakes, most of which are small, although there is a constant risk due to Israel's location along the Jordan Rift Valley. Current environmental concerns include the lack of arable land and natural fresh water resources. Whilst measures have been taken to irrigate and grow in the desert, the amount of water needed here poses issues. Desertification is also a risk possible on the desert fringe, whilst air pollution from industrial and vehicle emissions and groundwater pollution from industrial and domestic waste are also issues facing the country. Furthermore, the effects of the use of chemical fertilizers, and pesticides are issues facing the country.
It is in combating air pollution that some of the greatest advances have been made, notably in Haifa where for years the population suffered from the pollution emissions of the local oil refinery and the Israel Electric Company plant, not to mention the large complexes devoted to chemical production such as Haifa Chemicals. Stringent emission permits issued in response to publicly-sponsored litigation have now brought about a situation in which there is rarely an occasion when these emissions exceed the permitted level. This is also true of other heavily industrialized areas such as Ashdod.
In Jerusalem, it is not industrial but vehicular pollution that is responsible for the degradation of air quality. Rapid growth after the Six-Day War of 1967 brought hundreds of thousands of new residents to the city and houses, shopping malls, roads and streets have multiplied accordingly. Nothing has been done to lighten this polluting factor. Succeeding Israeli governments, for their own reasons, have always favoured private vehicles over an efficient public transport system, some say because of the enormous taxes and fees private vehicle owners pay. As a result the capital city suffers, not only from its own congested vehicular traffic, but from the clouds of vehicle-generated pollution that drift up from Tel Aviv and the entire, highly-populated surrounding region.
Nature Protection and Wildlife Management
Israel has a number of nature and wildlife protection problems that are unique. Because of stringent hunting laws and very active protection of wildlife, Israel has become a refuge for many native animals in an area where there is little protection offered. Except for Jordan, none of the surrounding Arab states have a really effective nature protection service and many indigenous animals such as gazelles, ibex, hyaenas and others are now very rare in those countries. In addition, Israel is the temporary abode and therefore de facto guardian of more than three-quarters of Europe's migratory birds, which stop over here on their way south in the autumn and on their return to Europe in the spring.
Until June, 2001, there were at least a dozen pesticides in use in Israel that are banned in most western countries. Since Israel exports a variety of fruits, vegetables and cheeses, attempts are indeed made to keep pesticide levels to a minimum, since the growers and producers know that food exceeding the stringent European standards will be returned. However, whenever foodstuffs are returned for this reason they are usually diverted to the Israeli market because of the less stringent standards and because there is no adequate monitoring system in effect. Private studies, some of them carried out by the ministry of the environment and some by NGOs, have shown that about 12 percent of the vegetables and fruits that reach the market exceed even the liberal Israeli standards for pesticide residue and in a large number of cases, the pesticides were officially licensed only for use on non-food crops such as cotton.
The Sea and Seacoast
In the 20 years that have passed since Israel signed the protocols of the Barcelona Convention for the Protection of the Mediterranean, great strides have been made in the prevention of pollution from oil spills. In consequence, tar on the beaches has been reduced by more than 200 percent. But other pollutants are still being dumped into the sea including sewage and polluted water from chemical plants, and in some cases, permitted dumping of chemical waste at sea. Much still needs to be done since in Haifa harbour, to site just one instance, mercury and other toxic metal contaminants have rendered the fish unsuitable for food.
Most of the systems used in Israel for the discharge of sewage effluents, the conduits, the sedimentation and aeration ponds and the sewage treatment plants are inadequate to the demands placed on them today. Many are old and in poor repair and even more were never designed to cope with a population that is increasing by approximately one million per decade. In most places there are no treatment facilities beyond sedimentation and aeration and in some the raw sewage simply flows into the wadis.
Rather more than 95 percent of Israel's solid waste is buried in landfills, burned in open-air pits or left to rot in garbage dumps throughout the country. Recycling in Israel is so minimal as to hardly deserve mention. The open garbage contribute a large amount of toxic and particulate matter to air pollution; they comprise a health hazard due to breeding flies, rats and mosquitoes and they contaminate underground water supplies. The interior ministry still insists that “recycling has not yet been proven to be effective or economically sound.” By artificially keeping haulage rates low through subsidies, the ministry has created a situation in which Israeli towns and cities pay only $7 per ton for garbage disposal, approximately one tenth of that paid in all other industrialized countries. At these prices it is simply not worthwhile to change the system.
Surface Water Pollution
The serious nature of the pollution of Israel's rivers was dramatically highlighted four years ago when a footbridge over the Yarkon river collapsed and a group of Australian athletes competing in the Maccabi Games were thrown into the polluted river below. Several subsequently died, and others were injured, not from the fall but from the insidious poisoning from exposure to the toxic waters of the chemically-polluted river.
Toxic waste disposal in Israel has significantly improved over the past few years but is still a long way from satisfactory. The toxic waste site itself is as big a problem as the one it was designed to solve. Twenty-five years worth of back-logged materials are kept in often leaking containers at the site and the poisonous materials that seep into the soil are a threat to the Negev aquifer and a potential health hazard to communities kilometres away. At last, an incinerator capable of handling toxic waste has been installed but it is of a size that will require several years, working at maximum capacity, to deal with the back log, not to mention the hundreds of tons that arrive every year. It is clear that the facility's capacity must be enlarged.
The quality of drinking water and sometimes the strong taste of chlorine in most of Israel's water, is unsatisfactory and is expected to continue declining. Moreover, the quantity of water available is one of Israel's greatest causes for concern and major efforts have been expended in finding ways to save water, particularly in agriculture. Today Israel leads the world in the utilization of “grey water,” that is water recycled from sanitary sewage.
Israel currently faces the most serious water crisis in its history. Several years of insufficient rainfall and increased demands due to population growth and expanding industry have led to a situation where drastic measures to reduce water consumption are necessary.
Water is Israel's most pressing environmental challenge, and is indeed the area where Israel has made the most progress. The barren landscape provides very few natural water resources, and the explosion of industry and population has lead to a major drain on the sparse water resources which already exist. It would not be an exaggeration to say that Israel's water situation is dire and that the future of the country and some say the future of peace in the Middle East is dependent on the management of this precious resource.
The mighty Jordan river has been reduced to a trickle and many of Israel's other rivers have either dried up or become contaminated by industrial discharge, sewage and agricultural pollutants like pesticides and fertilizer. Due to five years of low rainfall, Israel is in the middle of a draught. The Kinneret, Israel's only fresh water lake, consistently sinks below the minimum level that it needs to maintain its integrity without turning into a swamp; even the Dead Sea is reaching record lows and is at risk to dry up completely. Most drinking water comes from coastal and mountain aquifers which are quickly being drained or polluted. Demand and consumption have been steadily increasing and supplies are dwindling.
Air qualityrepresents one of Israel's the most immediate health concerns and is often called an “invisible killer”. Emission standards which are set and enforced by the government are the most important aspect of any clean air initiative. At this point, Israel's official standards are good but they are poorly enforced; in many cities pollutant levels are approximately 65% percent above the levels set by the World Health Organization.
Most air pollution is created by transportation, energy production and industry, and these have all increased dramatically over the last few years. The numbers of vehicles in Israel has almost doubled within the last ten years and so has electric consumption. The major air pollutants are particle matter, nitrous oxides, ozone, hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, carbon dioxide and lead. Air pollution in Israel is aggravated by its very own landscape. The small land area, arid climate, lack of rain, and coastal industries near densely populated communities create an increasingly poor air quality. Haifa Bay is one of the hardest hit areas, as it combines intense industrial activity with difficult atmospheric dispersion conditions caused by the Mediterranean Sea and the topography of Mount Carmel.
Another problem with social implications is the uncontrolled burning of garbage. An uncontrolled fire can produce thousands of times more toxins into the atmosphere than a high temperature incinerator. Garbage burning is particularly commonplace in Arab areas. This leads to extremely bad air quality in the villages and contributes to air pollution in general leading to significant health problems.
Israel has become an increasingly mobile society. Public transportation lacks funding, and many bureaucrats have been following the poor example set by the United States of building more roads as opposed to light rails and trains which are common in Europe. The majority of Israelis still travel by public transportation primarily on buses. Private cars in Israel used to be seen as a luxury item but due to rapid economic growth and poor government planning, many Israelis now need private cars because they lack alternative means of transportation. And this results in poor air quality.
While public transportation is generally considered the ideal for environmental preservation, there are cleaner options for private transportation than the existing combustion engine car. Israel is about to become the first country in the world to have in place a national network of electric cars and charging stations. In a study done in 2009 (by Project Better Place) 57% of Israelis reported that they would make there next car purchase an electric vehicle if given the option.
Israel is unfortunately dependent on fossil fuels for the production of electricity; but since it has no natural resources of fossil fuels, it has to depend mainly on long term contracts with countries including Mexico, Norway, the United Kingdom and Australia for oil. Israel is one of the only countries that has a power grid that is not connected to that of any other nation- making Israel into a virtual electric island. For security reasons it is vital that Israel secure its power production. Due to the animosity of surrounding countries, Israel has no access to the copious amounts of oil from neighboring oil rich nations. Because of that, Israel relies on coal for its electric power generating plants which it imports mainly from South Africa.
Coal is an extremely dirty source of fuel creating hundreds of thousands of tons of ash per year. Burning coal releases mercury, selenium, boron and dioxins which are extremely dangerous, and also contributes to global warming by emitting carbon dioxide and methane which are greenhouse gases. Burning coal also creates acid rain which has harmful effects on plants, aquatic animals and infrastructure. Environmental Minister Gilad Erdan has recently campaigned against the proposed coal power plant which would increase existing emissions by more than 10%.
Last year, natural gas was found off the coast of Haifa, and plans are being made to use this resource for energy production. While this could keep Israel running with its existing infrastructure, it will someday run out and leave the country in the same situation that it is in today.
New polices and alternative energy can help to boost the level of energy available. A more intelligent use of existing resources can also help to avert the pending environmental crisis. Simple actions like planting trees can cut a house's energy usage by 15% due to the shade. Saving energy can be more effective than finding new ways to produce it. Most important, Israel needs to change its source of energy to renewable sources like solar, wind, wave and bio fuels. Israeli companies are leading the way in technological innovation but this innovation is being applied mainly in other countries.
http://www.greenzionism.org/resources/educational-materials/45-climate-change – Climate change impacts
The environment of Kazakhstan began to suffer serious harm during the Soviet period. The country now faces an urgent need to address the Soviet legacy of ecological mismanagement. Between 1949 and 1991 the Soviet government conducted about 70 percent of all of its nuclear testing in Kazakhstan, mostly in the north-eastern area near the city of Semipalatinsk (now Semey). Nearly 500 nuclear explosions occurred both above and below ground near Semipalatinsk, while more than 40 nuclear detonations occurred at other testing grounds in western Kazakhstan and in the Qyzylqum desert. More than 1 million of Kazakhstan’s inhabitants were exposed to dangerous levels of radiation because the Soviet government did not evacuate or even warn nearby populations. In the late 1980s Kazakhs held large demonstrations calling for an end to the nuclear testing, and in 1991 the government of Kazakhstan put a stop to the practice. However, the testing grounds, and perhaps even underground aquifers (water-bearing layers of rock, sand, or gravel), remain highly contaminated. The Nevada-Semipalatinsk Organization, which led the campaign against nuclear testing during the 1980s, has turned its attention to teaching residents of polluted areas how to avoid nuclear contamination. One of every three children born in the Semipalatinsk region has mental or physical defects, and about half the population suffers from immune system deficiencies.
Another ecological disaster area in Kazakhstan is the Aral Sea, which is split roughly in half between Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. The Aral Sea has shrunk to less than half its former size since the early 1960s, when the Soviet government initiated a drive to increase cotton yields in the arid lands of Central Asia. Excessive irrigation substantially decreased inflow to the Aral, and the Aral’s shoreline began to recede rapidly. This has caused severe environmental problems in the Aral Sea Basin, including the destruction of wildlife habitat as a result of desertification (a process whereby previously habitable or arable land becomes desert). The Aral Sea crisis is also associated with a number of health problems, including respiratory infections and parasitic diseases. Efforts to address the crisis have focused on preventing further shrinkage of the Aral Sea, mainly because the damage is so severe that it is practically irreversible.
Kazakhstan also faces the problem of urban pollution, particularly in its eastern cities, which receive harmful emissions from lead and zinc smelters, a uranium-processing mill, and other industries. In recent years, environmental activist groups in Kazakhstan have begun lobbying for tighter emission controls. Other environmental issues in Kazakhstan include soil pollution from the overuse of pesticides in agriculture and the increasingly polluted waters of the Caspian Sea.
There are a number of environmental issues in Kazakhstan, in large part due to its years under the Soviet Union. Partly because of the country's enormous semi-arid steppe, the Soviet government used Kazakhstan as its nuclear testing site. Along with near-absent pollution controls, this has contributed to an alarmingly high rate of disease in many rural areas. Kazakhstan has identified at least two major ecological disasters within its borders: the shrinking of the Aral Sea, and radioactive contamination at the Semipalatinsk nuclear testing facility (in fact a large zone south of Kourchatov) and along the Chinese border.
The Central Asian Regional Environmental Center is located in Kazakhstan, which fosters regional cooperation on environmental issues.
Most of Kazakhstan’s water supply has been polluted by industrial and agricultural runoff and, in some places, radioactivity. The Aral Sea, which is shared with Uzbekistan, has shrunk to three separate bodies of water because of water drawdowns in its tributary rivers. A Soviet-era biological weapons site is a threat because it is located on a former island in the Aral Sea that is now connected with the mainland. The reduction in the Aral Sea’s water surface has exacerbated regional climatic extremes, and agricultural soil has been damaged by salt deposits and eroded by wind. Desertification has eliminated substantial tracts of agricultural land. Plants in industrial centers lack controls on effluents into the air and water. The Semey region in the northeast has long-term radiation contamination from Soviet-era weapons testing. The Ministry of Environmental Protection is underfunded and given low priority. Some new environmental regulation of the oil industry began in 2003, but new oil operations on Kazakhstan’s Caspian coast add to that sea’s already grave pollution. International programs to save the Aral and Caspian seas have not received meaningful cooperation from Kazakhstan or other member nations.
Kazakhstan faces several important environmental issues. As the site of the former Soviet Union's nuclear testing programs, areas of the nation have been exposed to high levels of nuclear radiation, and there is significant radioactive pollution. The nation also has 30 uranium mines, which add to the problem of uncontrolled release of radioactivity. Kazakhstan has sought international support to convince China to stop testing atomic bombs near its territory, because of the dangerous fallout.
Mismanagement of irrigation projects has caused the level of the Aral Sea to drop by 13 m, decreasing its size by 50%. The change in size has changed the climate in the area and revealed 3 million hectares of land that are now subject to erosion.
Air pollution in Kazakhstan is another significant environmental problem. Acid rain damages the environment within the country and also affects neighboring countries. In 1992 Kazakhstan had the world's 14th highest level of industrial carbon dioxide emissions, which totaled 297.9 million metric tons, a per capita level of 17.48 metric tons. In 1996, the total had dropped to 173.8 million metric tons. Pollution from industrial and agricultural sources has also damaged the nation's water supply. UN sources report that, in some cases, contamination of rivers by industrial metals is 160 to 800 times beyond acceptable levels. Pollution of the Caspian Sea is also a problem.
Kazakhstan's wildlife is in danger of extinction due to the overall level of pollution. According to current estimates, some areas of the nation will not be able to sustain any form of wildlife by the year 2015. In the areas where pollution is the most severe, 11 species of mammals and 19 species of birds and insects are already extinct. As of 2001, 15 mammal species, 15 bird species, 5 types of freshwater fish, and 36 species of plant are listed as threatened. Threatened species include the argali, Aral salmon, great bustard, snow leopard, and tiger. The mongolian wild horse has recently become extinct in the wild.
The environment of Kazakstan has been badly damaged by human activity. Most of the water in Kazakstan is polluted by industrial effluents, pesticide and fertilizer residue, and, in some places, radioactivity. The most visible damage has been to the Aral Sea, which as recently as the 1970s was larger than any of the Great Lakes of North America save Lake Superior. The sea began to shrink rapidly when sharply increased irrigation and other demands on the only significant tributaries, the Syrdariya and the Amu Darya (the latter reaching the Aral from neighboring Uzbekistan), all but eliminated inflow. By 1993 the Aral Sea had lost an estimated 60 percent of its volume, in the process breaking into three unconnected segments. Increasing salinity and reduced habitat have killed the Aral Sea's fish, hence destroying its once-active fishing industry, and the receding shoreline has left the former port of Aral'sk more than sixty kilometers from the water's edge. The depletion of this large body of water has increased temperature variations in the region, which in turn have had an impact on agriculture. A much greater agricultural impact, however, has come from the salt- and pesticide-laden soil that the wind is known to carry as far away as the Himalaya Mountains and the Pacific Ocean. Deposition of this heavily saline soil on nearby fields effectively sterilizes them. Evidence suggests that salts, pesticides, and residues of chemical fertilizers are also adversely affecting human life around the former Aral Sea; infant mortality in the region approaches 10 percent, compared with the 1991 national rate of 2.7 percent.
By contrast, the water level of the Caspian Sea has been rising steadily since 1978 for reasons that scientists have not been able to explain fully. At the northern end of the sea, more than a million hectares of land in Atyrau Province have been flooded. Experts estimate that if current rates of increase persist, the coastal city of Atyrau, eighty-eight other population centers, and many of Kazakstan's Caspian oil fields could be submerged by 2020.
Wind erosion has also had an impact in the northern and central parts of the republic because of the introduction of wide-scale dryland wheat farming. In the 1950s and 1960s, much soil was lost when vast tracts of Kazakstan's prairies were plowed under as part of Khrushchev's Virgin Lands agricultural project. By the mid-1990s, an estimated 60 percent of the republic's pastureland was in various stages of desertification.
Industrial pollution is a bigger concern in Kazakstan's manufacturing cities, where aging factories pump huge quantities of unfiltered pollutants into the air and groundwater. The capital, Almaty, is particularly threatened, in part because of the postindependence boom in private automobile ownership.
The gravest environmental threat to Kazakstan comes from radiation, especially in the Semey (Semipalatinsk) region of the northeast, where the Soviet Union tested almost 500 nuclear weapons, 116 of them above ground. Often, such tests were conducted without evacuating or even alerting the local population. Although nuclear testing was halted in 1990, radiation poisoning, birth defects, severe anemia, and leukemia are very common in the area (see Health Conditions, this ch.).
http://www.climatecalendar.ca/country/kazakhstan – Climate change impacts
The soil is fertile on the plains but is extremely degraded in the municipalities of Pristina, Kosovska Mitrovica, Obiliq, Polje and Glogovac by open coal pits, disposal of soot, slag, barren soil, heavy metals, discharge of waste waters, etc. The total area covered by industrial waste dumps and/or transformed due to open-cast mining extends to over 10,000 ha. This was the situation in the early 1990s. Due to the decrease in industrial activity in Kosovo since then, these degradations will not have increased severely. None of the industrial dumpsites are covered, or designed to prevent leakages to the ground water. No rehabilitation or re-vegetation of the waste dumps has been carried out. Agricultural activities in the vicinity of these industrial waste dumps are impacted. Sampling of agricultural crops and vegetables in the Mitrovice region (close to the Trepca mining area) in 1989 has shown that concentrations of heavy metals in spinach are increased in most of the contaminated areas by the following factors: for Pb 20-30 times, for Zn - up to 10 times, for Cd -up to 20 times, and for Cu up to 5 times. For potatoes and wheat increased concentrations have been found especially where the concentrations of lead and cadmium appear to be high.
The impact of contaminated food crops on the health of the local people has not been measured specifically. It has been found that lead blood levels in pregnant women was more than three times higher in Mitrovice compared to Prishtina. No effect on the weight of newborns, nor on the rate of spontaneous abortions has been found.6 Follow-up research did however present risks of disturbance of the early psychomotor development of children in lead-contaminated environments. Besides industrial landfills, household waste is a threat to the soil, as well as agricultural use. Figures concerning the use of fertilizer and agri-chemicals during the 1990s are not known. Since the beginning of the conflict these have not been used on a large scale. After the conflict international organizations have brought in both fertilizer and agri-chemicals, but according to the FAO crop reports in 1999 and 2000, not enough for reasonably high yields.
Severe illegal tree cutting during the winter of 1999 increases erosion in the mountaneous areas and destroys local eco-systems. Timber is also imported from Northern Albania, where it is cut in the mountaneous areas, thus increasing the risk of soil erosion there.
Another land-related environmental problem is that of mines and unexploded ordnance. Kosovo represents the smallest area of territory affected by landmines in the world. In August 1999 the first consolidated database of minefields was established, concluding that there was a low mine density in populated areas, but that contamination was widespread. During the spontaneous return of refugees immediately after KFOR entered Kosovo, 232 casualties from mines occurred, of which 40 were fatal (between June 12 and August 30, 1999)
Downstream from the cities and towns a high load of faecal pollution can be measured due to the fact that sewage water is not treated before it reaches the rivers. The regional water supply system is underdeveloped and exists only in urban areas while few of them have a functional sewage system. The quality of surface water was formerly monitored by the Hydro-meteorological Institute in Belgrade. Their data show that most rivers are typically one class below the desired level. An improvement in water quality was observed in 1993, when all big industries including the Trepca industrial complex ceased their activities. As a result of the economic embargo against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and the political situation in Kosovo throughout the '90s, many industries were forced to reduce their activities, or even shut down, and consequently environmental pollution has decreased. The water monitoring system is not consistent in Kosovo and there is unsatisfactory quality of the rivers Pecka, Decanska and Prizrenska Bistrica, Erenika and Kriva Reka. The contamination of surface water from towns with household wastes and faecal pollution pose a risk to the health of the population downstream.
Emissions above the maximum allowable concentration (MAC) values used to be common in the vicinity of mining, industrial and energetic complexes such as Polje, Obiliq, and also in bigger towns such as Prishtina. Direct emissions to the air have decreased due to the lessening of industrial activity during the 1990s. Post-conflict, the largest stationary source of air pollution is the power plant outside of Prishtina. It burns low quality lignite coal, with emissions as analysed by the Institute for Scientific Research and Development (INKOS) of 4.4 mg/m3 of SO2 and 90-150 mg/m3 of ash. The lignite burnt comes from the neighbouring mines, which seem to have a relatively low percentage of sulfur. UNMIK officials have indicated that the environmental component related to the re-start of the power plant may be postponed.
Very few other industries have restarted, thus air emissions from those are currently low, resulting in a reasonably good general air quality. Air pollution occurs around the mining system of Trepca and Obiliq owing to the inadequate disposal of industrial wastes - soot, slag, and barren soil. The burning of household waste on all scales causes air pollution of non-defined components. Large emissions are coming from the Prishtina landfill, which is burning and smoking continuously in different parts. Local air pollution is caused by burning household waste in the fields, in garbage cans on the streets, etc. Air emissions from non-stationary sources come mainly from traffic. Traffic has been increasing rapidly after the conflict. Not only because of secondhand cars being imported into the territory (with or without number plates), but also because of the large number of humanitarian assistance and military vehicles using diesel and leaded fuel. Local air pollution can be high due to the traffic in the main streets of Prishtina, although again no measurements have been performed.
The insufficient enforcement of the Yugoslav environmental legislation, the complete lack of environmental protection during the last ten years and the conflict has resulted in huge problems regarding the present environmental situation in Kosovo.
The state of the environment is the result of many factors such as the uncontrolled building of domestic and industrial premises, old industrial technologies, inadequate technology in certain industrial departments of natural resources, such as Trepca, pollution of water courses due to a complete lack of wastewater treatment from domestic as well as industrial sites and accumulation of solid industrial and urban garbage (MESP, 2003). The major environmental pollution in Kosovo is by other caused by the Trepca mining and smelting industry, the Obilic power plants and a concrete factory (ibid.). Since the start of the transition period, there has been little or no effort to reduce these pollution levels.
The present situation threatens the environment by creating surface water, ground water and soil pollution. With regards to water, Kosovo is already considered poor in drinking water resources, which are dwindling due in part to the construction of new buildings and the deteriorating water quality of the existing watercourses.
http://enrin.grida.no/htmls/kosovo/Kosovo_SOE_part1.pdf – Kosovo State of Environment 2003
Air and water pollution are among Latvia's most significant environmental concerns and are largely related to a lack of waste treatment facilities. In 1996, industrial carbon dioxide emissions totaled 9.2 million metric tons. Cars and other vehicles account for 70% of the country's air pollution. Acid rain has contributed to the destruction of Latvia's forests.
Latvia's water supply is perilously polluted with agricultural chemicals and industrial waste. The Gulf of Riga and the Davgava River are both heavily polluted. A majority of the nation's sewage does not receive adequate treatment. Almost half the nation's water contains bacteria levels that are beyond accepted safety limits.
One hundred twelve plant species, 20 types of lichen, and 32 types of mushrooms are endangered. Four mammal species and six bird species are also threatened. Threatened animal species include the marsh snail and the Russian desman.
Environment - current issues: air and water pollution because of a lack of waste conversion equipment; Gulf of Riga and Daugava River heavily polluted; contamination of soil and groundwater with chemicals and petroleum products at military bases
Like most former republics of the USSR, Latvia suffers the negative environmental legacy of decades of ecological and environmental mismanagement. Soviet economic policies favored the rapid buildup of heavy industries, which generate more pollution than do light industries. The Soviet government never implemented emission-control technologies, and industrial pollution continues to be a problem due to the high cost of upgrading or replacing existing technologies and facilities.
Industrial, agricultural, and municipal enterprises have produced dangerous levels of water pollution. Water pollution is especially severe in the Daugava River and the Gulf of Riga because of the outflow of untreated wastewater at Riga, which lacks an adequate sewage treatment plant, and industrial discharge from factories along the Daugava and its tributaries. In addition, chemicals and petroleum products at military bases have contaminated soil and groundwater.
Air pollution in Latvia is particularly heavy during windless, cloudy weather. The main air pollutants are sulfur dioxide, ammonia, phenols, formaldehyde, and nitrogen oxides. Latvia suffers from high levels of acid rain, which has defoliated more than half the country's trees. In addition, the extraction of peat continues to damage wildlife habitats. Environmental issues began to be discussed publicly in the late 1980s as part of Latvia's independence movement. The government has designated 12.5 percent (1997) of the country protected and has ratified international environmental agreements pertaining to air pollution, biodiversity, climate change, endangered species, hazardous wastes, ozone layer protection, ship pollution, and wetlands.
Environment - current issues: Latvia's environment has benefited from a shift to service industries after the country regained independence; the main environmental priorities are improvement of drinking water quality and sewage system, household, and hazardous waste management, as well as reduction of air pollution; in 2001, Latvia closed the EU accession negotiation chapter on environment committing to full enforcement of EU environmental directives by 2010
http://climatecalendar.ca/country/latvia – Climate change impacts
Lithuania's environmental problems include air pollution, water pollution, and the threat of nuclear contamination. The cement industry produces 299,000 metric tons of airborne pollutants per year. In 1996, industrial carbon dioxide emissions totaled 13.8 million metric tons per year. A UN report on Lithuania stated that air pollution had damaged about 68.4% of the nation's forests.
Water pollution results from uncontrolled dumping by industries and the lack of adequate sewage treatment facilities. In the 1990s, 42% of the nation's treatment facilities were inoperative.
After the nuclear accident at Chernobyl that contaminated much of Lithuania with excessive radiation, Lithuanians are concerned about nuclear energy development, especially the use of nuclear power generated by plants of the same kind as the one at Chernobyl.
Lithuania's pollution problems have also affected the nation's wildlife. Although nearly 10% of Lithuania's total land area was protected as of 2001, many of the country's original animal and plant species are now extinct. Five mammal species and four species of birds are threatened. Threatened species include the European bison, marsh snail, and Russian desman.
Concerned with environmental deterioration, Lithuanian governments have created several national parks and reservations. The country's flora and fauna have suffered, however, from an almost fanatical drainage of land for agricultural use. Environmental problems of a different nature were created by the development of environmentally unsafe industriesincluding the Ignalina nuclear power plant, which still operates two reactors similar to those at Chernobyl, and the chemical and other industries that pollute the air and empty wastes into rivers and lakes. According to calculations by experts, about one-third of Lithuanian territory is covered by polluted air at any given time. Problems exist mainly in the cities, such as Vilnius, Kaunas, Jonava, Mažeikiai, Elektrėnai, and Naujoji Akmenė—the sites of fertilizer and other chemical plants, an oil refinery, power station, and a cement factory.
Water quality has also been an issue. The city of Kaunas, with a population of about 400,000, had no water purification plant until 1999; sewage was sent directly into the Neman River. Only one-quarter of sewage-contaminated water in the republic is processed because cleaning facilities are not yet available. Tertiary wastewater treatment was scheduled to come on-line in 2007. River and lake pollution are other legacies of Soviet carelessness with the environment. The Courland Lagoon, for example, separated from the Baltic Sea by a strip of high dunes and pine forests, is about 85 percent contaminated. Beaches in the Baltic resorts, such as the well-known vacation area of Palanga, are frequently closed for swimming because of contamination. Forests affected by acid rain are found in the vicinity of Jonava, Mažeikiai, and Elektrėnai, which are the chemical, oil, and power-generation centers. Lithuania was among the first former Soviet republics to introduce environmental regulations. However, because of Moscow's emphasis on increasing production and because of numerous local violations, technological backwardness, and political apathy, serious environmental problems now exist.
Natural hazards: hurricane-force storms, blizzards, droughts, floods
Environment—current issues: contamination of soil and groundwater with petroleum products and chemicals at military bases
Water pollution, especially that of rivers, remains the most acute ecological problem in Lithuania. For example, the city of Kaunas, with a population of over half a million, has no wastewater treatment plant. Due to the recent decline in industry and the reduced use of chemicals in agriculture, water pollution has decreased considerably; however, the situation of most Lithuanian rivers and of the Curonian Lagoon remains critical.
High quality groundwater is employed for everyday use in Lithuania; however, in rural areas, the shallow well water that used is often polluted by nitrates beyond the standard acceptable level. The eutrophication of lakes, the Curonian Lagoon and the Baltic Sea poses another serious problem.
Groundwater is the only source of potable water in Lithuania. Groundwater pollution has been detected in nearly one-third of the country's area.
The state of the Curonian Lagoon Environment is one of the most critical problems in Lithuania, and it is essential the problems associated with the region be solved in cooperation with the neighboring countries, including Russia and Belarus. Approximately 5 million people live in the watershed of the Curonian Lagoon, and the sewage from the majority of these people flows into the accompanying rivers and lakes. Approximately one-third of the residents in the region live in large industrial cities such as Vilnius, Kaunas, Gardinas, Panevezys, Molodecnas, Lyda, Alytus, Marijampole, and Slonimas. The large industrial center of Klaipeda is situated in the northern part of the Curonian Lagoon. Besides the industrial users, the population consumes large amounts of water for its own needs, which is then also discharged into the sewage system.
The use of fertilizers in agriculture has decreased in recent years. A considerably smaller quantity of dungwash reaches the rivers and streams today, and the eutrophication process in the Curonian Lagoon has slowed down with the closure of large cattle-breeding farms in Lithuania, Belarus and Russia.
Atmospheric pollution in Lithuania has declined in recent years. Lithuania still experiences acid rain, ozone layer depletion and climate change and as in most other nations, this tends to be caused by transport, energy and industry. The primary concentration of air pollution is in the cities and industrial centers such as Vilnius, Kaunas, Klaipeda, Naujoji Akmene, Mazeikiai, Kedainiai and Jonava. The Siauliai region, the most polluted in Lithuania, contributes 40 percent of the general emissions for the entire country.
Air pollution reduction/stabilization analysis has revealed two major trends: increasing transport emissions and increasing pollution from industrial and energy sources whose output is increasing.
The negative impact of agricultural activities on the soil and the environment, and on the surface and groundwater, have to date been accorded little attention. Soil and the upper ground layers are most heavily contaminated in cities, especially in industrial areas and near highways and runways. Heavy metal concentrations in soils, and oil product contamination in some industrial areas are beyond the highest permissible levels. Heavy metal concentrations in soil exceed background concentrations and have been found outside the territories of the responsible companies. Concentrations of pollutants in cultivated soils are rarely beyond highest permissible levels. However, intensive land cultivation provides favorable conditions for mechanical and water-based soil erosion and depletion.
Contaminated territories pose a dangerous threat to public health and limit the use of land. Among the most contaminated areas in Lithuania are those around old dumping sites, former Soviet military sites and training grounds, as well as some industrial areas. During a 50-year period, significant territories were used by the Soviet Union for military purposes. Environmental investigation following withdrawal of the Soviet army revealed that significant damage was caused to the ecosystem's soil, deeper ground layers, hydrosphere, flora and fauna. More than 50 percent of this land is contaminated with oil products and heavy metals, and in those places where pollution has reached higher concentrations, groundwater levels have also been contaminated. Highly contaminated soil becomes a secondary pollution source.
There are approximately 800 town and village waste dump sites in Lithuania. Most dump sites are poorly situated both geologically and geographically; they make use of inadequate technology; and a large number of small sites have been neglected. Every year, 1.4 million tons of solid domestic waste is dumped. Waste separation has already begun in the major cities of Lithuania with the use of separate containers for glass, plastics, metals and kitchen waste.
Malta's most significant environmental problems include inadequate water supply, deforestation, and the preservation of its wildlife. The country's extremely limited fresh water resources have led to increasing dependence on desalination. The nation's agriculture suffers from lack of adequate water for crops due to limited rainfall. Currently, 31% of Malta's land area is arable land and 3% is planted with permanent crops. Malta was one of the first countries to ratify the 1976 Barcelona Convention for the protection of the Mediterranean from pollution. Malta's government has made recent efforts to control environmental damage including passage of the Environmental Protection Act of 1991 and the creation of a Ministry for the Environment. The Ministry of Health and Environment belongs to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources. In cooperation with the World Wildlife Fund, the Ghadira wetland area was made a permanent nature reserve in 1980. According to the United Nation reports in the mid-1990s, a significant proportion of Malta's animal and plant life is in danger of extinction. Endangered species include the slender-billed curlew, Mediterranean monk seal, hawksbill turtle, and Atlantic ridley.
Very limited natural fresh water resources; increasing reliance on desalination, the slaughter of migratory birds on migration during unregulated hunting.
The number of motor vehicles per person remains very high, leading to road crashes, air pollution, noise and insufficient physical activity. Concentrations of particulate matter with an aerodynamic diameter of less than 10 μm (PM10) and ozone (O3) are still high, but concentrations of sulfur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen dioxide (NO2) are below the EU annual threshold values. Electricity generation largely requires the combustion of fossil fuels, contributing significantly to air pollution and the emission of greenhouse gases. However, power stations began to use low-sulfur fuels in 2003.
http://www.independent.com.mt/news.asp?newsitemid=85651 – Climate change impacts
The natural environment in Moldova suffers from the heavy use of agricultural chemicals (including banned pesticides such as DDT), which have contaminated soil and groundwater. Poor farming methods have caused widespread soil erosion. In 1996, Moldova's industrial carbon dioxide emissions totaled 12 million metric tons. As of 2001, 1.4% of Moldova's total land area is protected. Two out of 68 mammal species and 7 out of 177 breeding bird species were threatened. Threatened species include the European bison, European souslik, and the great bustard.
The economic crisis in the country reached its peak in 1999. and ever since, Moldova has been recovering, however, in 2005. in still had the lowest GDP among European countries.
The environment of Moldova suffered extreme degradation during the Soviet period, when industrial and agricultural development proceeded without regard for environmental protection. Excessive use of pesticides resulted in heavily polluted topsoil, and industries lacked emission controls. The Moldovan government is now burdened with the Soviet legacy of ecological mismanagement. Environmental initiatives are administered by the State Department for Environmental Protection. High levels of pesticide and fertilizer use have been linked with elevated rates of disease and infant mortality. Soil contamination and groundwater pollution are associated problems.
Agriculture in Moldova is a dominant but not very profitable activity. It is contributing soil erosion, which is a major problem in the country, while fertility of the soil is in constant decline. Economic crisis, like in other countries in transition, had a positive effect, in a form of decrease of pesticide and artificial fertilizers using.
Forests cover only 11% of the territory. The state is making efforts to increase forest covered areas, which would improve land and soil quality and protection.
Industrial production increased since 1998 for about 30%. There are still insufficient data on effects of industry on environment. Tradition as it was for ex soviet republics, industry waste waters have been discharged without any treatment whatsoever. In Moldova, main industry is food, beverage and tobacco production, which are also major energy consumers, followed by paper and cardboard, furniture and leather industry, as well as heavy machinery.
Moldova's communist-era environmental legacy, like that of many other former Soviet republics, is one of environmental degradation. Agricultural practices such as overuse of pesticides and artificial fertilizers were intended to increase agricultural output at all costs, without regard for the consequences. As a result, Moldova's soil and groundwater were contaminated by lingering chemicals, some of which (including DDT) have been banned in the West.
Such practices continue in Moldova to the present day. In the early 1990s, use of pesticides in Moldova averaged approximately twenty times that of other former Soviet republics and Western nations. In addition, poor farming methods, such as destroying forests to plant vineyards, have contributed to the extensive soil erosion to which the country's rugged topography is already prone.
Excessive use of natural resources over the last 40-50 years and far from perfect ecological management of these resources led to overpollution and to significant depreciation of the productive natural capital and to destruction of flora and fauna. Excessive use, during several decades, of mineral fertilizers and pesticides in the agricultural purposes has resulted in an increased level of land and water pollution that negatively has affected health of the population and biodiversity. From all reserves of underground water, which are known till now, only approximately 50% can be used for drinking without pre-treatment. A serious danger is represented by the processes of soil erosion. The area of eroded lands annually increases by 0.9 %, agricultural lands lose 26 mln tons of fertile soils. Ecological risks are also caused by the development of the energy complex.
http://www.climatecalendar.ca/country/moldova – Climate change impacts
Coastal waters are polluted from sewage outlets, especially in resort areas such as Kotor. Air pollution is a problem around industrial cities. Destructive earthquakes are a natural hazard.
Industrial production in Montenegro is underdeveloped and is characterised by outdated technology, low energy and raw material efficiency, weak technological discipline and high levels of waste.
So-called wild building is particularly pronounced on locations that are attractive for tourism development.
The technologies applied in Montenegro are characterised by high greenhouse gas emissions and the production of large amounts of waste. Such technologies are represented in the currently active mining and metal industries, and were also characteristic for the plants and mines that are no longer in operation. Technologies with the most significant negative impacts on the environment are used in metallurgy, plants where combustion of coal is used – thermo-power plant – and mining.
Industrial ecological problems are expected to be solved through the complete implementation of the IPCC Directive and compliance and implementation of environmental standards.
Despite the limited agricultural land of about 518 000 ha, Montenegrin agriculture is very versatile. Another comparative advantage is the fact that land, generally speaking, is not over-exploited and the use of fertilisers and pesticides is still low – more than 10 times below the EU average.
Maritime and Land Transport
There are about 170 cars per 1 000 people, which is relatively high for a country with similar GDP per person, but far below the EU average. Trains are characterised as very old, as are trucks and buses. Control of the freight load of road vehicles is inadequate, and over-loaded vehicles contribute significantly to damage of the road network.
There are five national parks, which are the most attractive and ecologically best-preserved nature reserves – Durmitor, Biograd primeval forest, Skadar Lake, Lovcen and Prokletije. Since previous and current tourism has been developed mostly in the coastal area, ecotourism has a great potential for the future.
The main problems and pressures that have impacts on tourism are poorly resolved or unresolved treatment of water and solid waste, as well as water supply and electricity shortages, especially during the high tourism season.
A large deficit of electricity and the low level of exploitation of the hydroelectric potential has resulted in plans for large new hydropower plants, with dams and reservoirs that may endanger valuable natural resources, some of which are under national and international protection regimes. Small hydroelectric power plants and solar energy are generally insufficiently utilised or resourced, although there is significant potential.
The existing thermo-power plant, Pljevlja, has been one of the greatest polluters of the environment. In previous year large filters were added, which significantly – but not sufficiently – improved its ecological parameters.
Major environmental problems
l old and polluting industry (technology) – contamination of specific locations and negative environmental effects of major pollutants: Aluminum Factory Podgorica, Niksic Steel Factory, Thermal Power Plant Pljevlja; a particular problem is industrial liquid wastes discharged to rivers;
l high levels of urban pollution – solid waste, liquid waste, undeveloped infrastructure – is also an obstacle to economic development and especially for tourism, the state of infrastructure and facilities and equipment for water supply being generally poor; large amount of water are lost in the system;
l unsustainable use/over-exploitation of resources such as energy, water and forests;
l increased impact of traffic – both road – unsatisfactory fuel quality, old vehicles, congestion in large cities and poor public transport systems, the need to build new roads –and maritime – lack of measures for addressing pollution caused by ships/ boats;
l threats to biodiversity due to destruction of habitats of certain species, and excessive exploitation of commercial species;
l problems with the use of land and unplanned construction.
http://climatecalendar.ca/country/montenegro – Climate change impacts
Poland's environmental situation has improved since the ouster of its communist regime, which has been accompanied by decreased emphasis on heavy industry and increased government awareness of environmental issues. However, Poland has yet to recover from the overexploitation of forests during World War II and the loss of about 1.6 million hectares (4 million acres) of forestland after the war. As of the mid-1990s, 75% of Poland's forests have been damaged by airborne contaminants and acid rain.
Pollution of the air, water, and land were the most significant environmental problem facing Poland in the 1990s. Air pollution results from hazardous concentrations of airborne dust and chemicals including carbon dioxide, nitrogen compounds, fluorine, formaldehyde, ammonia, lead, and cadmium. In 1992 Poland had the world's 12th highest level of industrial carbon dioxide emissions, which totaled 341.8 million metric tons, a per capita level of 8.9 metric tons. In 1996, the total rose to 356 million metric tons. Industry-related pollution affects particularly the Katowice region, where dust and sulfur dioxide emissions exceed acceptable levels. Water pollution in the Baltic Sea is 10 times higher than ocean water. Poland has 55 cu km of renewable water. Two percent is used to support farming and 64% is for industrial purposes. Poland's cities generate on average 5.7 million tons of solid waste per year. The nation's wildlife has also suffered from degeneration of its habitats. As of 2001, 9.1% of Poland's total land area was protected. Ten mammal species were endangered. Six bird species and one type of plant are also threatened with extinction. The cerambyx longicorn and rosalia longicorn are among the endangered species.
Environment - current issues: situation has improved since 1989 due to decline in heavy industry and increased environmental concern by post-Communist governments; air pollution nonetheless remains serious because of sulfur dioxide emissions from coal-fired power plants, and the resulting acid rain has caused forest damage; water pollution from industrial and municipal sources is also a problem, as is disposal of hazardous wastes; pollution levels should continue to decrease as industrial establishments bring their facilities up to EU code, but at substantial cost to business and the government
The main air pollutants in Poland include sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxides and dust. Most of these atmosphere-contaminating emissions originate from fuel combustion processes. The largest share of sulphur dioxide is emitted by power generating utilities, nitrogen dioxide - by mobile sources, and dust - by power utilities and industrial processes. The reduction by almost 50% of sulphur dioxide emission over the last decade demonstrates the effectiveness of the legal and economic instruments implemented in the early nineties and of the technologies applied.
A reduction in emission of nitrogen oxides is also recorded. The installation of low emission burners in many plants has further reduced the NOx emissions from stationary sources. However air pollution by nitrogen oxides is principally due increasing numbers of mobile emissions. The currently binding national regulations, as well as introduction of the EC rulings on pollutant emission from motor vehicles, and the introduction of the requirement of international compliance certificates, should bring about some concrete reductions not only of nitrogen oxides, but also of carbon monoxide, hydrocarbons and lead.
Dust produced at fuel combustion and some industrial processes typically includes some compounds of heavy metals such as cadmium, lead, mercury and chromium. The air quality in Poland is also affected by contamination originating in the neighbouring countries. The main air pollutant concentrations (SO2, NO2, dust) in the vast majority of Poland's territory are relatively low. Excesses of SO2 and dust over allowable concentrations are most often recorded in the industrialized areas of southern Poland , and particularly in the cities, where individual heating systems prevail. An excess of concentration of nitrogen dioxide is rarely reported. Ozone concentration is growing frequently above allowable levels.
Poland's water resources are scarce. Surface water resources are crucial for water supplies to the Polish national economy. Ground water resources provide good quality drinking water to the public.
The volume of municipal and industry originated sewage has continued to fall over the last six years, resulting from the rationalization of water consumption for both manufacturing and household applications enforced by the legal and economic instruments. At the same time, large-scale investment projects over the recent years have resulted in an increase in the number and efficiency of sewage treatment plants. Most municipal treatment plants are small and designed to solve local water protection problems. However the discharge of untreated sewage still remains a very serious problem in large cities. Only 43% of sewage originating from 42 major cities in Poland is biologically treated.
The most important problem of the Polish rivers is still their poor sanitary condition. Despite a slight improvement, still ca. 80% of river segments carry waters contaminated with bacteria in excess of the standard limits. This is the result of discharges of untreated municipal sewage into the rivers and area run-offs from rural sites with unregulated water and sewage management.
Human activities influence the climate of Poland mainly through the changes in the land utilization and air pollution. Both factors cause changes in the energy balance of the atmosphere and earth's surface, and thus of the circulation of heat and water in this system.
With regard to land use, deforestation and urbanization are the major problems. Deforestation causes an increase in thermal contrasts in the lowest layer of the atmosphere and a decrease in the amount of water vapour in the atmosphere. By changing the ground roughness the process of deforestation leads to an increase of the wind speeds, which lowers the humidity of air and increases evaporation of water. In the last 15 years (from 1975) the total surface of forests increased slightly (by 1.7%). However parts of southern and western Poland the area of the forests decreased.
Urbanization increases air temperature (so called urban heat islands), lowering the amplitude of temperatures, weakening the inflow of solar radiation and changing the precipitation system.
Air pollution disturbs the balance of solar radiation by increasing atmospheric obscurity, changing the chemical composition of the atmosphere and of the drops of water that are in the atmosphere (acid rains), increasing the ozone concentration in the troposphere, decreasing it in the stratosphere, and delivering additional amounts of thermal energy to the atmosphere which changes its thermal structure.
A systematic increase of ozone concentration in the troposphere in the highly industrialized regions has been observed. Ozone is a result of photo-oxidation of carbon monoxide, methane and other volatile organic compounds in the presence of sulphur dioxide or nitrogen oxides. Because of the short lifespan of ozone in the lowest layers of the atmosphere, it does not have a large influence on climatic conditions, but it is a deterrent to living organisms.
http://www.eea.europa.eu/soer/countries/pl/soertopic_view?topic=climate%20change – Climate change impacts
Air pollution and water pollution caused by industry are serious environmental problems in Romania. The country’s factories, chemical plants, and electric power plants depend heavily on burning fossil fuels, a process that emits high levels of carbon dioxide and sulfur dioxide - a key component of acid rain. The industrial centers of Copsa Mica, in central Romania, and Giurgiu, in the south, have severe air pollution problems. Bucharest, the capital, also has serious air pollution. Much of the nation’s industrial runoff ends up in the Danube river system, making water unsafe for drinking and threatening the diverse ecosystems of the Danube delta. The delta, the largest in Europe, was declared a World Heritage Site in 1991. Its lakes and marshes are home to hundreds of species of birds and dozens of fish and reptile species, many of which are threatened with extinction.
Poor farming practices, especially infrequent crop rotation, have led to severe soil degradation and erosion in parts of Romania, although today, nearly half of all Romanians still live out of farming, in rural areas. In the 1980s large tracts of marshland lining the Danube were drained and converted to cropland to aid food production. Deforestation, however, is not a serious problem in Romania, where forests cover 27.7 percent of the land.
Romania has already started investing in clean energy, such as solar, wind and hydro energy sources. Also, several projects on using geothermal energy have already been implemented in the country.
Romania is indeed rich in biodiversity, particularly in the broad Danube delta, the largest delta in Europe, which is reserve of water plants, wetland ecosystem and swamp haven for both flora and fauna. This region has excellent opportunities for eco tourism, especially for birdwatchers. Moreover, Romania has one of the largest undisturbed forest area in the world (13% of the country – half of total forest land), and 5% of a total country area represents protected land.
Romania suffers great consequences of climate change in a form of tornadoes, floods and desertification. The country has had records of occasional tornadoes since late 19th century but in the last few years number of tornado-force winds beat all the previous records, with 9 tornadoes in less than a year, during 2005.
Floods in Romania also became frequent and abundant, taking many lives, affecting over 1500 settlements, and causing thousands evacuations. Yet another serious effect of changes in a global climate regime is drought that has been predicted to turn Romanian region Dobrudgia into a desert, within the next 100 years.
Rapid industrialization since World War II has caused widespread water and air pollution, particularly in Prahova County, an oilrefining region. The nation has 49 cu km of renewable water sources, with about 59% used to support farming and 33% used for industrial purposes. Romania's cities produce on average 3.0 million tons of solid waste per year. Air pollution is heaviest in the nation's cities, where industry produces hazardous levels of sulphur dioxide. In 1992, Romania had the world's 28th highest level of industrial carbon dioxide emissions, which totaled 122.1 million metric tons, a per capita level of 5.24 metric tons. In 1996, the total dropped to 119 million metric tons.
Damage to the nation's soils from erosion and pollution has decreased agricultural production by 50% in some areas. Acid rain originating in Hungary is another environmental problem. Some water conservation programs were initiated in the mid-1980s, but the Environmental Protection Law of 1972 has not been strictly enforced.
Romania's forests and natural steppelands have been encroached on by farmers. Radioactivity from the Chernobyl nuclear site, two floods, and two earthquakes have also contributed to the nation's environmental problems. Moreover, intensive exploitation of forests before, during, and immediately after World War II necessitated a reforestation program that, between 1950 and 1964, resulted in the replanting of 1,159,600 hectares (2,865,400 acres).
As of 2001, 4.6% of Romania's total land area is protected. Sixteen of Romania's mammal species, 11 of its bird species, and 34 plant types are endangered. The Romanian bullhead perch, Atlantic sturgeon, slender-billed curlew, and Mediterranean monk seals are among those listed as endangered.
Although Romania is rich in biodiversity (particularly in terms of large size and quality of valuable ecosystems and the quantity of some species), the country has undergone a progressive loss of biodiversity as a result of human activity. Agriculture, industrial development and urbanization, in particular, have profoundly affected the biological diversity, both generally and locally. Pollution, the alteration of river courses and hydrotechnical works, mineral resource extraction and the overexploitation of biological resources have been the main factors involved.
It has been estimated that during the last fifty years, there has been a permanent loss of 250,000 ha of forest and grassland ecosystems, and that an additional 280,000 ha have been temporarily or only partially lost. A total of about 400,000 ha of wetland habitat (much of it along the Danube River) has been permanently or partially lost as well.
Air, water and soil pollution have been and continue to represent major threats to the biodiversity in Romania. Industrial pollution decreased in the last years of the economic transition process due to significant reductions in the industrial activities. Agriculture runoff is also a major polluting factor in some areas.
Part of the inland waters which could sustain a rich biological diversity are polluted, and the Danube brings from the countries located upstream a pollution level with negative impact upon the river's biological diversity, as well as on the Danube Delta and the Black Sea. The high nutrient load of the Danube River has caused eutrophication in the Danube Delta lakes where macrophyte, mollusc, benthic and fish species have consequently been reduced. This is particularly damaging to fish population but also to marine mammals.
Changes in the Hydrological Regime
One of the most significant ecological changes that have occurred in Romania has been the alteration in the course of rivers and the construction of hydrotechnical works. In most cases, these actions have had major negative consequences for aquatic biocoenoses, causing the loss of natural ecosystems and terrestrial habitats, as well as the loss of ecological balance within these ecosystems on a large scale. The loss of groundwater as a result of hydrotechnical works has, for example, produced the partial or total drying out of about 20,000 ha of forest.
The draining of wetlands was promoted by the previous regime in order to ensure increased areas of arable land for agriculture. This practice led to the loss of approximately 400,000 ha of floodplains, particularly along the Danube river and in the Danube Delta (80,000 ha). The embanking of the Danube River and the building of the hydraulic power plants at Portile de Fier have also had a major impact in destroying the spawning areas and the breeding success of many fish species. Together with pollution, this factor has led to a reduction of the sturgeon harvest (now 50 times lower than previously reported) and carp (now 10 times lower than previously reported).
Out of the 25 sturgeon species existing worldwide, 6 species are known for the Danube River Basin, namely: beluga (Huso huso), Acipenser guldenstaedti, Acipenser stellatus, sterlet (Acipenser rhutenus), Acipenser shui and Acipenser nudiventris. Beginning with the 60's, the last three species are considered extinct or very rare within Romanian waters. The main causes for their decline are: the shrinking of their spawning territory due to the hydrotechnical works, the increasing pollution of waters and the overexploitation. The other three species face a major decline, special measures of restoration being required.
Consequences of Land Use
Estimations indicate that about 40% of the agricultural area are affected by erosion with an average rate of 16.5 t/ha/yr. The irrigation of agricultural land (about 3,200,000 ha in 1989) has also brought about increased salinization on large areas. Overgrazing in some areas is also reducing soil resources (e.g. contribution to erosion, especially on slopes).
(an overview of the country's environmental problems and solutions – REC 1994)
Climate issues in Russia
Russia produces a significant portion of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions and is therefore an important country in the international climate negotiations. The Kyoto protocol did not come into force before it was ratified by Russia. Nevertheless, Russia's positions in the coming climate negotiations are an open question. Russian science and public has taken a more sceptical position to man-made climate change then the rest of the world, school education is weak and it is very little public information available about climate change. Since the county is rich on oil, gas and coal, fossil fuel is a priority together with maintaining its nuclear capacity.
Challenges in relation to nuclear-waste and accidents
The first generation nuclear reactors have reached their designed lifespan. The oldest existing Chernobyl-type RBMK-1000 unit of Leningrad NPP and the oldest model of VVER-440 power unit of Kola NPP reached their designed lifespan in 2003.
The first generation reactors create a higher probability of nuclear accidents, and should be closed at the planned expiry date. They should not be granted permits for prolonged operation. Necessary funds for decommissioning must be established, and the preparation of decommissioning started.
By-products of nuclear weapons production caused permanent damage near Tomsk and Krasnoyarsk in southern Siberia, and near Chelyabinsk in the Ural Mountains. Fallout from the 1986 explosion at Ukraine’s Chernobyl’ nuclear power plant affected Russia primarily in Bryansk Oblast (see Chernobyl’ Accident). Less well-known than the Chernobyl’ disaster were accidents at the Mayak nuclear weapons production plant near Chelyabinsk in 1949, 1957, and 1967, which together released significantly higher emissions than Chernobyl’
The Soviet military tested nuclear weapons on the islands of Novaya Zemlya in the Arctic Ocean, which was their second testing site after Semipalatinsk (now Semey), Kazakhstan. Nuclear reactors and wastes were dumped into the Barents and Kara seas of the far north, and in far eastern Siberia. Dumping of nuclear wastes in the Sea of Japan (East Sea) continued until 1993. The disposal of nuclear submarines and nuclear waste is still a problematic issue. Although a number of nuclear submarines have been decommissioned, many are still docked at Russian ports as a result of a lack of money and facilities for storing nuclear wastes.
Erosion and degradation of land and water
Land and water resources experienced severe degradation during the Soviet period. Some areas, such as the Kuznetsk Basin on the Tom’ River in southern Siberia, the industrial belt along the southern portion of the Ural Mountains, and the lower Volga River, were degraded beyond repair.
Chemical fertilizers and airborne pollutants have contaminated some agricultural areas. Soil resources have also been adversely affected by mismanagement. Broad areas of land in southern Russia suffer from erosion. Wind erosion has affected the more arid parts of the North Caucasus, lower Volga River basin, and western Siberia. Pollutants released into rivers have accumulated in lakes and seas with limited water exchange, including the Caspian Sea, the Sea of Azov, and the Black Sea. A toxic layer of hydrogen sulfide covers the Black Sea, due in part to organic compounds from agricultural byproducts and untreated sewage. Many Russian cities are not equipped with adequate sewage treatment plants. Inadequate or nonexistent wastewater treatment contributes to the degradation of rivers and lakes.
Many hydroelectric dams were built during Soviet times on Russia’s major rivers. A series of dams on the Volga River has significantly slowed the river and decreased the volume of water it can carry; the decline in the flow of the Kuban’ and Don rivers has been even greater. The rivers therefore retain even more of the pollutants that are discharged into their waters. In addition, many of the dams do not have properly functioning fish ladders, so many fish do not make it past the dams to their spawning grounds. As a result, the numbers of sturgeon and other fish have been greatly reduced.
Deforestation and destruction of forests
Forests in more accessible parts of the country suffer from deforestation caused by extensive logging. The rate of deforestation has increased in the Ussuri region in extreme far eastern Russia because of the activities of foreign logging operations. Some large stands of undisturbed forests are protected in Russia’s extensive network of national reserves and parks. Adequate funding for park rangers and other personnel is lacking, however, and poaching (illegal hunting) of endangered animals such as the Siberian tiger has increased as a result.
Airborne pollutants have caused damage to vegetation in many areas of Russia. Copper, cobalt, and nickel smelters emit huge amounts of sulfur dioxide in the northern Siberian city of Noril’sk and on the Kola Peninsula in northwestern Russia. Winds spread these contaminants across northern Europe, where the pollutants have caused widespread destruction of Scandinavian forests. They have also affected large areas of forests in the Kuznetsk Basin and the southern Urals.
Decades of Soviet mismanagement have resulted in the catastrophic pollution of land, air, rivers, and seacoasts, although the USSR did manage reforestation with some success. Air pollution is especially a problem in the Urals and Kuznetsk (where vast populations are exposed to hazardous emissions from metal-processing plants) as well as in the Volga and Moscow regions. In 1992 Russia had the world's third highest level of industrial carbon dioxide emissions, which totaled 2.1 billion metric tons, a per capita level of 14.11 metric tons. In 1996, the total dropped to 1.5 billion metric tons.
About 75% of Russia's surface water is unsuitable for drinking. The Volga River has been damaged through rash exploitation of hydroelectric power. Lake Baikal is the largest fresh water reservoir in the world, but has been heavily polluted through agricultural and industrial development. Accidental and intentional dumping of radioactive materials in the 1950s and 1960s had left several areas still uninhabitable as of 1990.
About 3.1% of Russia's total land area was protected as of 2001. The same year, there were 31 mammal species, 38 bird species, and 129 species of plants listed as threatened. Endangered species include Atlantic sturgeon, beluga, crested shelduck, Amur leopard, Siberian tiger, Mediterranean monk seal, Wrangel lemming, and the Oriental stork. The great auk, Palla's cormorant, and Steller's sea cow have become extinct.
Russia relies heavily on natural resource extraction for its economic development, contributing to problems such as overexploitation of air and water resources, fragmentation of wilderness, and declining forests as a result of logging and fire.
Russia has many protected areas, such as zapovedniks and natural parks, which are made to preserve the natural state of environments. There are currently 101 zepovedniks that cover a total of over 33.5 million hectares. However, some animals, such as the Amur tiger, polar bear and Caucasian leopard, are facing extinction. The Russian government is attempting to revive those populations. A tiger summit was held in St. Petersburg in 2010 to discuss how to save the dwindling tiger population, which is threatened by deforestation and poaching.
Extensive logging is causing the widespread deforestation of certain areas of Russia. Despite efforts of Russian authorities to preserve forests using nature reserves and parks, funding for park rangers is lacking, limiting the protection of forests. Illegal logging is also widespread, especially in the north-west and in the Far East parts of Russia. It is estimated that Russia loses $1 billion every year due to illegal logging. According to the Center for Russian Environmental Policy, 16 million hectares of forest are lost each year to a variety of causes, including logging, pollution and fires. Inefficient logging and clearcutting strategies result in 40% of harvested trees never being used, and the implementation of forest protection policies has been slow.
Inefficient energy usage and the use of fossil fuels is another environmental issue that Russia faces. The Ministry of Fuels and Energy stated that upgrading energy sector equipment could cut carbon emissions by 25%, and the Energy Research Institute predicts that such measures could save up to $1 billion of fuel every year. 68% of Russia's energy is produced by polluting fossil fuels, and it is a large producer of those fuels.
Factories, such as the Baykalsk Pulp and Paper Mill, have contributed significantly to water pollution in Russia.
Water pollution is a serious problem in Russia, and 75% of surface water and 50% of all water in Russia is now polluted. This has caused health issues in many cities as well as in the countryside, as only 8% of wastewater is fully treated prior to being returned to waterways. Obsolete and inefficient water treatment facilities, as well as a lack of funding, has caused heavy pollution, and has also resulted in waterborne disease spread, such as an outbreak of cholera spread by the Moskva River in 1995. Industrial and chemical waste is often dumped into waterways, including hydrogen sulfide, which has been linked to the large-scale death of fish in the Black and Caspian seas. Lake Baikal was previously a target of environmental pollution from paper plants, but cleanup efforts since then have greatly reduced the ecological strain on the lake.
Russia's air is among the most polluted in the world, although its quality has been improving since the 1990s. 43.8 million tons of pollutants were released into open air in 1993, of which 24.8 million came from industry and 19 million came from vehicles. Moscow, St. Petersburg, Yekaterinburg and Volgograd, as well as other major industrial and population centers, are the highest concentrations of air pollution. Overall, over 200 cities in Russia exceed pollution limits, and this is increasing as more vehicles appear on the roads. Before the 1990s, most air pollution came from industries. When industrial production declined, emissions of air pollutants from those sources also declined, although the amount of motor vehicles on the roads skyrocketed. Currently, vehicle emissions exceed industry emissions in most Russian cities.Air pollution is attributed to 17% of childhood and 10% of adult diseases, as well as 41% of respiratory and 16% of endocrine diseases.
Nuclear power plants in Russia present many dangers to Russia's environmentNuclear energy is widely used in Russia, and there are currently 31 operating nuclear reactors. However, several of these, such as the one at the Kola NPP, are past their lifespan and have a higher probability of nuclear accidents. Instead of being decommissioned, they are still being used, although some additional safety measures are being taken to prevent accidents. The disposal of nuclear waste is also an issue, due to a lack of funding. Unsafe dumping methods are sometimes used to get rid of nuclear waste, and it was dumped into the Sea of Japan until 1993. The Commission of Ecological Security, founded in 1994, helped bring the dumping of nuclear waste into ocean to the public's attention. It is estimated that bringing nuclear safety levels to official standards would cost $26 billion. The testing and production of nuclear weapons also had an effect on the environment, such as at the Mayak nuclear weapons production plant near Chelyabinsk.
Industrial wastes are dumped into the Sava, which flows into the Danube. Air pollution is a problem around Belgrade and other industrial cities. Air pollution in the Belgrade area has fallen in recent years, from 605 to 132 micrograms per cu m between 1990 and 1995. Thermal energy plants utilize technology from the 1950s and mostly burn lignite; since combustion is inefficient, air pollution is a major problem. Destructive earthquakes are a natural hazard.
Many of Serbia’s environmental problems are strongly related to its historic legacy of a centrally planned economy. A focus on heavy industrialization in combination with price controls and subsidies created inefficient and wasteful natural resources use. Key causes include low prices on energy and other natural resources and environmental services (waste management). Due to the economic collapse in the 1990s, necessary environmental investments to prevent pollution and build infrastructure for water, sanitation and solid waste, etc were not undertaken. Despite ongoing reform efforts, Serbia still faces with serious environmental problems.
Air pollution is a serious problem with ambient concentrations of soot, particulate matter, SO2 and NOx exceeding allowed levels. Facilities for energy generation and industrial plants with deficient air-cleaning technology are key sources of air pollution. Public electricity and heat production emit around 345,000 tons of SO2 per year, which corresponds to 98% of total SO2 emissions. NOx emissions from public electricity and heat production amounts around 45,000 tons per year which also corresponds to nearly all of Serbia’s NOx emissions (UNECE, 2007). Emissions from burning of low quality coal in the power plants continue to cause major problems. Air pollution from transport, manufacturing industries and construction increases; noticeable, leaded petrol and high sulphur diesel continues to be used. The total annual damage caused by air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions is estimated to range between 1.8%-5.5% of GDP.
Water pollution:Untreated industrial and municipal wastewater, agricultural run-off, leachate from dumpsites and contamination from transports on rivers are the key sources of water pollution in Serbia. Even major towns in the country do not have municipal waste water treatment plants. Hence, only 5.3%4 of municipal wastewater is treated prior to discharge and nearly 90% of industrial wastewater is discharged untreated. The quality of drinking water is generally unsatisfactory. For instance, in central Serbia, more than 40% of samples were bacteriologically contaminated and did not satisfy the quality criteria. However, significant regional disparities exist: in Voivodina, the main problem is caused by physical and chemical pollution of drinking water. In central Serbia, bacterial contamination is the principal problem. In many areas groundwater can not be used for drinking purposes without previous treatment. The water supply network is old and inadequately maintained, with huge losses in the system. Most drinking water sources are not sufficiently protected from point and non-point source pollution. Hence there are significant health risks such as epidemic outbreaks. Inadequate waste management and recycling: The general state of waste management, waste recycling and safe waste handling in Serbia is poor, reducing public health and causing environmental hazards. Only about 60% of municipal solid waste is collected in Serbia (around 2.2 million tons per year). The most acute problem regards hazardous waste (e.g. electronic appliances, chemicals), which is not separately collected but dumped without pretreatment on regular waste dumps. The industrial waste has increased from 68,000 tons in 1999 to 176,000 tons in 2006 (UNECE, 2007). There are no treatment plants or disposal sites for hazardous waste. Waste disposal sites do generally not meet the technical requirements of sanitary landfills. There are also hundreds of illegal dumpsites of different size in rural areas. The construction of regional sanitary landfills and the rehabilitation of the existing ones are among the priorities of the Ministry of environment.
Soil degradation:Soil erosion processes (water and wind) are estimated to affect up to 80% of agricultural soil in Serbia leading to loss of agricultural productivity. Agricultural soil covers 66% of the total territory of the Republic of Serbia. Soil quality is also affected by use of polluted water for irrigation, inadequate use of fertilizers and pesticides and dumping of waste. Large land areas in the vicinity of industrial complexes are contaminated with various pollutants discharged from industrial facilities. The use of leaded fuel causes soil pollution along the major roads. Unsustainable forest management: Forests and woodland cover 28 % of the total territory of Serbia. In 2005, around 51% of the forests were owned by the state. Although statistics reveal an increase in forest coverage of 0.4% per year 1990-2005 (World Bank, 2007), this does not imply sustainable management at all forest sites. Due to a relatively low road density in forest areas, accessible areas are frequently over harvested, while other areas are harvested with very low intensity. Forest quality and growth are threatened by many factors, including over-harvesting, illegal logging, forest fires, and pest infestations.
Loss of biodiversity:Due to a large variety of ecosystems, the former Yugoslavia was one of six European centers of biological diversity. Specifically, it hosted 39% of Europe's vascular plant species, 51% of its fish fauna, 74% of its bird fauna, and 68% of the mammals. In 2006, 642 species were reported as threatened in Serbia. 427 (66%) of these are plant species and 215 (34%) fauna (UNECE, 2007). The impacts of uncontrolled tourism, illegal construction activities, transport and forestry on nature protected areas are of particular concern.
Climate change and climate variability: Assessments of projected climate change for the European sub-region, including Serbia, are generally uncertain. However, the mean annual temperatures are likely to increase more than the global mean and range between 2.2-5.1°C at the end of this century. The warming in South East Europe (SEE) region is likely to be largest in summers, annual precipitation is very likely to decrease in most of the region, and the risk of summer drought is likely to increase. Further projected consequences of climate change in the SEE region include: (i) increased pressures on water resources, (ii) increased risk of flooding, erosion, and wetland loss; (iii) deterioration in soil quality and altered natural ecosystems, with loss of some habitats and potential loss of species; (iv) decreased productivity of commercial forests and increased risk of forest fire, especially in the southern regions; (v) negative effects on agriculture due to increased water stress; (vi) altered fisheries potential; and (vii) increased property damages, changing tourism potentials, human health effects (e.g. excess deaths attributable to heat, particularly among the aged population) (IPCC, 2007; ECE, 2007; UNECE, 2007).
Although adaptation is the primary objective for Serbia in relation to the projected effects of climate change and -variability outlined above, mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions is also a cause for concern. Serbia’s CO2 emissions per capita amount to 6.2 metric tons per year, which is more than twice than the average in its income group. Although Serbia has reduced its growth in CO2 emissions during 1990-2003 with 31%7, the emissions are associated with substantial social costs; the damages are calculated to amount to 1.4% of Gross National Income (GNI), which corresponds to 370m.US$ per year (World Bank, 2007).
Like the Czech Republic, Slovakia has had its air contaminated by sulfur dioxide emissions resulting from the use of lignite as an energy source by the former Czechoslovakia, which had the highest levels of sulfur dioxide emissions in Europe. Slovakia instituted a program to reduce pollution in the late 1980s. Air pollution by metallurgical plants endangers human health as well as the environment, and lung cancer is prevalent in areas with the highest pollution levels.
Airborne emissions in the form of acid rain, combined with air pollution from Poland and the former German Democratic Republic, have damaged Slovakia's forests. Land erosion caused by agricultural and mining practices is also a significant problem.
As of 2001, 22.1% of Slovakia's total land area is protected. In 2001, 8 mammal species, 4 types of birds, and 11 plant species were endangered. Threatened species include the Danube salmon, marsh snail, and false ringlet butterfly.
Pollution and toxicity
The main industries in the Slovak Republic are responsible for heavy metals pollution (mainly Dc, Cr, and Mn). Ten particularly affected areas were identified in 1998. It is estimated that 30 000 ha of agricultural soils are polluted by heavy metals. Although emissions of S02 and Nox are still cause for concern, there has been a general decrease of these substances from 569 000 tons in 1989 to 199 000 tons in 1997. In the same period emissions of Nox decreased from 226 000 tons to 123 000 tons. Soil acidification as a result of air pollution by these substances affects at least 425 000 ha.
Levels of CO2 have fallen from 60 million tons in 1990 to 46 million tons in 1996. These levels are however still cause for concern. Likewise methane emissions have fallen from 400 000 tons in 1990 to 320 000 tons and N2O from 13 000 tons to 8 000 tons.
In the last decade the use of nitrogen fertilizers has decreased (from 90 kg per ha in 1989 to 37 kg per ha in 1997). A decline of almost 50% in animal density per ha, reduction of pesticide use and improvement in substitute pesticides have also led to a notable improvement in water pollution. Likewise improved manure technology has led to improved water quality. Drinking water is strictly controlled and from 97% to 99.9% of drinking water contains safe levels of nitrates, Mn, Fe, ammonium nitrites, pH, and microbiology.
Loss of biodiversity
Industrial and agricultural emissions have had negative impacts on air, soil, forest biota, and water sources resulting in changes in biodiversity. Damage to forests in Slovakia from pollution is high and it was estimated in 1997 that only about 18% of trees were not damaged. Large scale agriculture also decreases the habitat of wild living organisms. Drainage of soils destroys populations of wetland plants and animals.
Soil erosion caused by high rainfall and floods is a major problem. More than 50% of agricultural soil and more than 90% of forest soils are suffering from soil erosion. As a result, vast sedimentation is taking place in many lakes to the detriment of the ecosystems of the land.
Availability of freshwater resources
The quality of surface water has stabilised in the past few years due to new water cleaning stations and a decrease in industrial activity. The purest irrigation water is found in the Danube River Basin. Water suitable for irrigation now accounts for 31.6%, conditionally acceptable water for irrigation for 43.1% and water unsuitable for irrigation for 25.3%. A gradual decrease of water surpluses has been observed.
Global changes in the climate have affected the Slovak Republic over the past decade. Extreme rainfall and flooding have increased, together with a gradual rise in air temperature. This trend is expected to continue
Water supply and waste water treatment:
• some of the monitored water courses (especially smaller streams close to pollution sources) remain in the categories of highly and very highly polluted (e.g. Teplica, Myjava, Malina, Mláka, Trnávka, Zolná, Slatina).
• some sections of important water courses have long exhibited elevated concentrations of specific pollutants
• The quality of surface and ground waters continues to be affected by extensive pollution sources; 54,5 % of the area of agricultural land can be classified as “vulnerable areas”
• A number of water reservoirs are endangered by eutrophication
Municipal solid waste:
• 1,095 mil. tonnes is mixed waste, i.e. 74 % of total production. Separation of waste solids is still on very low level.
• Landfilling remains the most usual form of disposal: 86 % in 2004 of municipal waste.
• Present share of renewable electricity remains too low to achieve the national indicative target of 19 % of gross electricity consumption form renewable sources by 2010 (24 % by 2020 and 27 % by 2030).
• stagnation of utilisation of secondary and renewable sources
Natural risk management:
• Floods cause increase in the microbial levels in water courses, contamination of the soil in the vicinity of flooded industrial plants by pollutants and damage to the flooded parts of the landscape
• In 2004 there were 155 forest fires recorded. The number of events has rapidly decreased compared with previous years (in 2003 over 900 fires).
• agricultural fields are integrated to large areas which causes obstacles for spreading plants and animals and causes water and wind erosion
Other environmental issues in the Slovak Republic:
• Pollution levels by PM10 - imission standard of PM10 particles is exceeded in an increasing number of regions (Bratislava, Trnava, Nitra, Banská Bystrica, Prievidza, Martin, Veľká Ida and others). Total emissions dropped from 290.000 tonnes in 1990 to 50.690 tonnes in 2003 – i.e. by 82,4 %
• High O3 levels – after 1990 stagnation in growth
• Elevated concentrations of heavy metals in the air occur in some locations, generally Pb goes down, others are comparable with previous years or go slightly down
• Specific emissions of the main greenhouse gas, CO remained in 2003 on the same level as in 2002 3, concentration limits were not exceeded in 2004
• noise pollution
http://climatecalendar.ca/country/slovakia – Climate change impacts
Slovenia's natural environment suffers from damage to forests by industrial pollutants, especially chemical and metallurgical plant emissions and the resulting acid rain. Water pollution is also a problem. The Sava River is polluted with domestic and industrial waste; heavy metals and toxic chemicals can be found in the coastal waters. The country is subject to flooding and earthquakes. As of 2001, 5.9% of Slovenia's total land area was protected. In the same year, 10 out of 75 mammal species and 3 out of 207 breeding bird species were threatened, as were 3 plant species. Threatened species include the Italian agile frog, slender-billed curlew, Beluga, Danube salmon, and the olm.
The Sava River polluted with domestic and industrial waste; pollution of coastal waters with heavy metals and toxic chemicals; forest damage near Koper from air pollution (originating at metallurgical and chemical plants) and resulting acid rain.
(an overview of the country's environmental problems and solutions – REC 1994)
The four priority areas are: improving the state of the aquatic environment, through reducing pollution; coping with the problem of waste by reducing waste generation and setting up an effective waste management system; conservation of biological diversity; and protecting air quality and climate.
http://ec.europa.eu/dgs/jrc/downloads/jrc_20080526_infoday_slovenia_background_climate_change.pdf – Climate change impacts
Environmental responsibilities are vested in the Under Secretariat for Environment and in the Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources. Among Turkey's principal environmental problems is air pollution in Ankara and other cities. The smog in Ankara grew worse after 1979, when the government banned oil heating systems in new buildings in order to reduce costly oil imports; the resultant increased burning of Turkish lignite, which is high in sulfur content, greatly increased the levels of sulfur dioxide and dust in the air. In 1983, the government reversed itself and banned the conversion of heating systems to coal. At the same time, it introduced an antipollution program designed to reduce air pollution levels by more than 50% within a year. In addition to heating restrictions, the plan called for strict traffic controls, the closing of the worst industrial polluters, a prohibition on the import of high-sulfur fuel oil, special emergency hospital wards for smog victims, and the building of green areas and parks in and around cities. In 1992, Turkey had the world's highest level of industrial carbon dioxide emission, which totaled 145.5 million metric tons, a per capita level of 2.49 metric tons. In 1996, the total rose to 178.3 million metric tons.
A $220-million project to clean up the polluted water in the Golden Horn, an inlet of the Bosporus forming a harbor in Istanbul, was implemented in the 1980s. The nation's rivers are polluted with industrial chemicals. Among them, mercury has created a serious threat to the nation's water supply. As of 2000, only 81% of urban dwellers and 86% of rural residents have access to safe drinking water. Soil erosion affects both coastal and internal areas. The combination of water and wind eliminates 500 metric tons of soil each year.
In 2001, 15 of Turkey's mammal species and 14 of its bird species were endangered. About 1,600 types of plants were threatened with extinction. Endangered species include the Anatolian leopard, Mediterranean monk seal, bald ibis, slender-billed curlew, Atlantic sturgeon, and hawksbill and green sea turtles.
The main Environmental issues in Turkey are:
l water pollution from the dumping of chemicals and detergents;
l air pollution, particularly in urban areas;
l the potential for spills from the 5,000 oil- and gas-carrying ships that pass through the Bosporus annually.
Turkey's most pressing needs are for water treatment plants, wastewater treatment facilities, solid waste management, and the conservation of biodiversity. The release of pollutants by neighboring countries has critically contaminated the Black Sea, and multinational cooperation has not adequately addressed the problem. Air pollution has accelerated since rapid economic growth began in the mid-1990s. The problem is especially acute in Istanbul, Ankara, Erzurum, and Bursa, where the combustion of heating fuels increases particulate density in winter. Especially in Istanbul, increased car ownership and the slow development of public transportation cause frequent urban smog conditions. Mandatory use of unleaded gas was scheduled to begin only in January 2006. Industrial air pollution comes mainly from power plants and the metallurgy, cement, sugar, and fertilizer industries, a large percentage of which lack filtration equipment. Land degradation is a critical agricultural problem, caused by inappropriate use of agricultural land, overgrazing, over-fertilization, and deforestation. Serious soil erosion has occurred in 69% of Turkey’s land surface. According to one estimate, Turkey loses 1 billion tons of topsoil annually. Large areas of Turkey are prone to major earthquakes. The establishment of the Ministry of Environment in 1991 accelerated progress on some environmental problems such as urban air pollution. In the early 2000s, prospective membership in the European Union (EU) spurred the updating of some environmental legislation. However, in 2003 the merger of the Ministry of Environment with the Ministry of Forestry reduced the influence of environmental officials in policy making, and enforcement procedures (such as those regulating traffic through the Bosporus) are considered weak. In general, private firms have responded more fully to environmental regulation than state owned enterprises, which still constitute a large percentage of Turkey’s economy.
With the establishment of the Environment Ministry in 1991, Turkey began to make significant progress addressing its most pressing environmental problems. The most dramatic improvements were significant reductions of air pollution in Istanbul and Ankara. However, progress has been slow on the remaining–and serious–environmental challenges facing Turkey.
Turkey faces a backlog of environmental problems, requiring enormous outlays for infrastructure. The most pressing needs are for water treatment plants, wastewater treatment facilities, solid waste management, and conservation of biodiversity. The discovery of a number of chemical waste sites in 2006 has highlighted weakness in environmental law and oversight.
(environmental issues in Turkey – US Energy Information Administration 2000)
http://climatecalendar.ca/country/turkey – Climate change impacts
Soviet policies of raising industrial and agricultural productivity with little regard to ecological considerations have had a devastating effect on the environment. Air pollution is especially severe in such industrial centres as Zaporizhzhya, Luhans’k, and Donets’k. Industrial and agricultural pollutants have contaminated soil in the south and drinking water throughout the country. Ukraine lacks funds for recycling and conservation programs, and pollution controls remain at a minimum.
The April 1986 explosion and core meltdown of a reactor at the Chernobyl’ nuclear power plant in northern Ukraine had an enormous impact on the region’s environment (see Chernobyl’ Accident). Northern Ukraine and especially southern Belarus were the most severely contaminated areas from the radioactive plume that was released in the explosion. Radioactive materials from the accident seeped into the ground, contaminating farmland and the water supply. The long-term impact on human health and the environment is still being assessed. The four Chernobyl’ reactors, only one of which was still in operation from 1996 through 2000, continue to be a major hazard, especially to Ukraine’s water supply. The Chernobyl’ complex was finally shut down completely in December 2000, with the financial assistance of Western nations. The funds were to pay for the completion of two other nuclear power plants that would produce enough power to make up for the loss of the power supply from the Chernobyl’ plant.
Ukraine's environmental problems include the nuclear contamination which resulted from the 1986 Chernobyl accident. One-tenth of Ukraine's land area was affected by the radiation. According to UN reports, approximately one million people were exposed to unsafe levels of radiation through the consumption of food. Approximately 3.5 million ha (8.6 million ac) of agricultural land and 1.5 million ha (3.7 million ac) of forest were also contaminated.
Pollution from other sources also poses a threat to the environment. Ukraine releases polluted water, heavy metal, organic compounds, and oil-related pollutants into the Black Sea. The water supply in some areas of the country contains toxic industrial chemicals up to 10 times the concentration considered to be within safety limits.
Air pollution is also a significant environmental problem in the Ukraine. In 1992, Ukraine had the world's seventh-highest level of industrial carbon dioxide emissions, which totaled 611.3 million metric tons, a per capita level of 11.72. In 1996, the total had dropped significantly to 397 million metric tons. The pollution of the nation's water has resulted in large-scale elimination of the fish population, particularly in the Sea of Azov.
As of 2001, only 1.6% of Ukraine's total land area is protected, including 22 Wetlands of International Importance. Fifteen mammal species, 10 bird species, and 20 plant species are threatened, including the European bison, the Russian desman, and the Dalmatian pelican.
Ukraine does have some environmental concerns. Some regions lack adequate supplies of potable water. Air and water pollution affects the country, as well as deforestation, and radiation contamination in the northeast from 1986 accident at Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant.
Conservation of natural resources is a stated high priority, although implementation suffers from a lack of financial resources. Ukraine established its first nature preserve, Askania-Nova, in 1921 and has a program to breed endangered species.
Ukraine has significant environmental problems, especially those resulting from the Chornobyl nuclear power plant disaster in 1986 and from industrial pollution. In accordance with its agreement with the G7 and European Commission in 1995, Ukraine permanently closed the last operating reactor at the Chornobyl site on December 15, 2000. The contract for construction of a new shelter to be built around the sarcophagus was awarded in September 2007. Construction for the new shelter has begun, with the ultimate goal of its commissioning in 2014. The successful commissioning of the new shelter will provide a long-term, environmentally sound solution for the destroyed reactor. Ukraine has a pollution fee system, which levies taxes on air and water emissions and solid waste disposal. The resulting revenues are channeled to environmental protection activities, but enforcement of this pollution fee system is lax.
Construction of a shipping canal through a UN-protected core biosphere reserve in the Danube Delta, which began in May 2004, is an environmental issue of international interest.
During the Soviet period, rapid industrialization, intensive farming, and a lack of effective pollution controls combined to seriously degrade the environment in Ukraine. Some of the most polluted areas in the world are now found there.
The coal-burning industries of eastern Ukraine, which emit high levels of sulfur dioxide, hydrocarbons, and dust, have created severe air pollution throughout the region. Air quality is particularly poor in the cities of Dnipropetrovsk, Kryvyy Rih, and Zaporizhzhya. Lightly industrialized cities in the west, such as Uzhhorod and Khmelnytskyy, face air pollution caused by the prevalence of inefficient automobiles.
Ukraine has the unique status of being home to some of the richest natural environments and resources in Europe while at the same time being one of the most heavily polluted countries in the region. Ukraine is one of the least energy efficient countries in the world. An inventory in 1990 estimated that total emissions from Ukraine were 246 million tons of CO2. As for 2002 the total emissions were 487.7 million tons of carbon equivalent.
Effective management of natural resources and environmental protection are essential to preserve life-supporting biological systems, improve the quality of life and reduce poverty in Ukraine. Poor environmental management in the past has resulted in an increased number of natural disasters in recent years in Ukraine, and worsened the health of the population. At present, 40% of the total territory of Ukraine is now eroded land, and is growing at approximately 80,000 hectares annually. At the same time, it has many natural assets in biodiversity and international waters of global importance and its industrial activities and energy consumption practices have important implications for global climate change.
http://climatecalendar.ca/country/ukraine – Climate change impcats
Bangladesh is basically a riverien country in the tropical zone having highly fertile delta soil. Its economy is mainly based on agriculture. It is one of the most thickly populated countries of the world having 768 persons per sq. km. Natural calamities like floods, locally originated tornadoes and cyclones are regular features affecting the population and habitats in the rural areas.
High growth of population increase the habitats are diminishing the plants and trees in the rural areas particularly to meet their requirement of fuel substitute for cooking, in brick fields and other small industries. Increasing need of wood for the population for transports, roads, bridges and homesteads add to the degradation of environment. Bangladesh had agro-based industries till the 1970 mostly like jute mills, sugar mills, cotton spinning mills, etc. Only the sugar mills sporadically situated in the north and north-western part of Bangladesh, had localized pollution problems with its wastes. The recent growth of garment industries with its backward linkage sectors composite textile mills (including dying printing and finishing units), and leather processing units (under SMEs) use substantial quantities of highly toxic wastes, dyes and chemicals. Some of these industries are situated close to the river having access for the disposal of their toxic wastes whereas tanneries and some other textile finishing units, situated in the land locked areas posing increasing pollution problems to their surrounding. Some government owned large industries like urea fertilizer, pulp and paper etc are creating more pollution problem by their gaseous emission and untreated effluent discharge to the adjoining rivers threatening the aquatic animals and human lives as rural people and animals drink this water for their livelihood.
Department of Environment (DOE) and Ministry of Industries (MOI) with the assistance of Asian Development Bank (ADB) carried out a study on pollution aspects in Bangladesh, which conclude the ranking of the major polluting industry sector as follows:
· Paper and pulp
· Textile (dying & printing)
The above industrial sectors are major pollutants due to the high discharge level of organic materials and chemicals which are hazardous to environment. It is evident apparently from the study that SME are not main polluters. But by and large all industries including SME are also generating enormous pollution and posing a serious threat to the country.
The Country Environmental Analysis for Bangladesh underpins complex linkages between poverty, growth and environmental management. The report identifies three significant areas that need priority attention: (i) urban and indoor air pollution threats to human health; (ii) treatment of urban and industrial sewage in Dhaka; and (iii) the continuous decline of capture fisheries. The negative impacts of these environmental issues are costly to the poor and the economy alike: they are estimated at more than 4% of GDP in this report.
It is estimated that about one-fifth of the total burden of disease in Bangladesh may be associated with environmental factors. It also identifies indoor air pollution as a serious health hazard. This chapter also examines how water supply and sanitation produced good results for the country and explains how arsenic is threatening Bangladesh’s safe water achievement.
In mega city Dhaka most of the poor lack access to clean water and adequate sanitation facilities, and many live in squalid conditions next to extremely polluted water bodies. The triple threat of contamination of the air, land and water has put the capital under stress. It also examines the economic and social costs of water degradation and highlights policy and institutional factors affecting water quality in the Dhaka area.
The inland capture fisheries, a valuable resource for the poor, have come under threat due to encroachment and degradation of natural assets and rapid urbanization.
95% of Bangladesh’s natural forests and 50% of its freshwater wetlands are lost or degraded. Bangladesh now has among the smallest areas of protected and intact forest in the world, consisting of 1.4% of its landmass. Many terrestrial wildlife species have been lost during the last 100 years. In addition, the World Conservation Union (IUCN) in 2000 classified 40% of Bangladesh’s freshwater fish species as threatened with national extinction.
Bangladesh is the most vulnerable country to climate change impact. Being the largest delta in the world located at the downstream of the second largest river system, the country is subject to a series of climatic events. The probable impacts of global climate change (GCC), particularly sea-level rise and the associated impact on ecosystems and economic loss, adds to the already daunting array of environmental issues. Climate change will change the physiography and demography of Bangladesh. By 2050, 70 million people could be affected annually by floods; 8 million by drought; up to 8% of the low-lying lands may become permanently inundated. In addition to direct inundation of a large population, the sea level rise will certainly result in increased frequency and severity of flooding along the major estuarine rivers. Saltwater intrusion problems will also be exacerbated in coastal aquifers. Some impacts manifesting in erratic weather patterns and unexpected extreme climatic events have already been evident. The most recent cyclone, Cyclone Sidr, hit Bangladesh on November 15, 2007 with an enormous intensity. Winds of 220-240 km/hr and the cyclone’s width of 600 kilometers caused over 3,000 deaths and projected costs of $2.3 billion dollars due to widespread devastation to houses, infrastructure, and livelihoods. Climate change will change the physiography and demography of Bangladesh. By 2050, 70 million people could be affected annually by floods; 8 million by drought; up to 8% of the low-lying lands may become permanently inundated.
Environment - current issues: many people are landless and forced to live on and cultivate flood-prone land; waterborne diseases prevalent in surface water; water pollution, especially of fishing areas, results from the use of commercial pesticides; ground water contaminated by naturally occurring arsenic; intermittent water shortages because of falling water tables in the northern and central parts of the country; soil degradation and erosion; deforestation; severe overpopulation.
Overpopulation has severely strained Bangladesh's limited natural resources. Nearly all arable land is already cultivated and forestland has been greatly reduced by agricultural expansion and by timber and firewood cutting. Between 1983 and 1993, forest and woodland declined by 12.5% to 1.9 million ha (4.7 million acres). As of 1995, total forest area was only 1 million ha. Bangladesh's environmental problems have been complicated by natural disasters that add to the strain on an agricultural system which supports one of the world's most populous countries. Water supply is also a major problem because of population size, lack of purification procedures, and the spread of untreated contaminants into the usable water supply by flood waters. To ease these problems, the government has established drainage, irrigation, and flood protection systems, and has drilled thousands of tube wells to supply safe drinking water in villages. As of 2001, safe water was available to 100% of the population.
Despite passage of the Wildlife Preservation Act of 1973, wildlife continues to suffer from human encroachment. Only 0.7% of the country's total land area is protected. In 2001, 18 species of mammals, 30 species of birds and 18 plant species were considered endangered, including the Asian elephant, pygmy hog, Sumatran rhinoceros, Bengal tiger, estuarine crocodile, gavial, and river terrapin.
An Array of Environmental Problems threatens Bangladesh:
•Contamination of drinking water; the level of arsenic is more than 500 percent of the WHO recommended safe mark for over 80 million people.
•Desertification of large parts of the country due to construction of dams and barrages upstream in India.
•Sea Level rise and the prospect of large-scale inundation.
•Air pollution in urban areas, periodical flooding, pollution of rivers, the destruction of forests and wetlands.
“Bangladesh is likely to be among the countries that are worst affected by climate change.” Expected climate change impacts include: increasingly frequent and severe tropical cyclones; melting of the Himalayan glaciers; sea level rises; and warmer and more humid weather. In addition, dry areas are expected to receive lower and more erratic rainfall, while wet areas are expected to experience heavier and more erratic rainfall.
Environmental issues in India are many. Air pollution, water pollution, garbage pollution and wildlife natural habitat pollution challenge India. The situation was worse between 1947 through 1995. According to data collection and environment assessment studies of World Bank experts, between 1995 through 2010, India has made one of the fastest progress in the world, in addressing its environmental issues and improving its environmental quality. Still, India has a long way to go to reach environmental quality similar to those enjoyed in developed economies. Pollution remains a major challenge and opportunity for India.
Some believe economic development is leading to environmental issues in India. Others believe economic development is key to improving India's environmental management and preventing pollution in India.
Some suggest India's growing population is the primary cause of India's environmental degradation. Systematic studies challenge this theory. Empirical evidence from countries such as Japan, England and Singapore, each with population density similar or higher than India, yet each enjoying environmental quality vastly superior than India, suggests population density may not be the only factor affecting India's issues.
Major environmental issues are forest and agricultural degradation of land, resource depletion (water, mineral, forest, sand, rocks etc.), environmental degradation, public health, loss of biodiversity, loss of resilience in ecosystems, livelihood security for the poor.
The major sources of pollution in India include the rampant burning of fuelwood and biomass such as dried waste from livestock as the primary source of energy, lack of organized garbage and waste removal services, lack of sewage treatment operations, lack of flood control and monsoon water drainage system, diversion of consumer waste into rivers, cremation practices near major rivers, government mandated protection of highly polluting old public transport, and continued operation by Indian government of government owned, high emission plants built between 1950 to 1980.
India's water supply and sanitation issues are related to many environmental issues.
Environmental issues are one of the primary causes of disease, health issues and long term livelihood impact for India.
Air pollution, poor management of waste, growing water scarcity, falling groundwater tables, water pollution, preservation and quality of forests, biodiversity loss, and land/soil degradation are some of the major environmental issues India faces today.
India's population growth adds pressure to environmental issues and its resources.
Pollution. Deforestation. Wildlife trade. The aspirations of more than one billion people. These are some of the critical issues that India grapples with every day.
But as the country’s population and economy continue to grow, the need to find solutions becomes more urgent every day.
Across India, concern is mounting over an ever growing list of environmental problems.
More people means increased pressure on natural resources (from water to forests), while an economy in high-gear is leaving a trail of pollution that’s affecting not only India, but the rest of the world too.
India is witnessing a rising demand for forest-based products. This is causing deforestation and encroachment into forest protected areas, which leads to a severe loss of natural resources.
It is estimated that total industrial roundwood consumption in India could exceed 70 million m3 per year by the end of the decade (350,000 large shipping containers), while domestic supply would fall short of this figure by an estimated 14 million m3.1
As the nation will have to depend heavily on imports to meet this growing demand, there is fear that this could result in loss of high conservation value forests and biodiversity elsewhere.
A thirst for palm oil
India is a big edible oil consumer. In fact, it is one of the three largest importers of palm oil in the world, along with EU and China. Of these imports, 95% come from Indonesia and Malaysia, causing negative social and environmental consequences in these exporting countries.
Conversion of natural forests for cultivating oil palm is a major threat to biodiversity and livelihoods in the tropics. Most of the lowland rainforest on the Indonesian island of Sumatra has already been lost, largely because of the clearance for oil palm and pulp wood plantations.
With the global demand for palm oil expected to increase from 28 million tonnes at present to about 50 million tonnes in 20302, there are very serious concerns that this will happen at the expense of biologically and economically important forests.
Increasing competition for water among various sectors, including agriculture, industry, domestic, drinking, energy generation and others, is causing this precious natural resource to dry up. Increasing pollution is also leading to the destruction of the habitat of wildlife that lives in waterways.
Each year, hundreds of millions of plants and animals are caught or harvested from the wild and then sold as food, pets, ornamental plants, leather, tourist curios, and medicine. While a great deal of this trade is legal and is not harming wild populations, a worryingly large proportion is illegal — and threatens the survival of many endangered species, with overexploitation being the second-largest direct threat to many species after habitat loss.
Water availability in India is “rapidly” running dry and is an issue that needs to be confronted soon before it faces a severe water crisis. Only 67% of rural Indians have access to water in their homes (as opposed to 95% in 2005). Solutions can start with rainwater harvesting for large buildings and fixing distribution losses.
Invasive species are the second biggest threat to biodiversity after deforestation. India loses a great deal of valuable plants and animals because of invasive species, but at the same time, many of the introduced crops, such as soya and wheat, are financially viable and important. Solutions could include microreserves for native plants
The loss of natural habitats creates situations in which lions, leopards, and monkeys, amongst other animals, create major problems for humans in their daily interactions. As animals ruin property and take lives, humans are tempted to start killing important parts of the environment. The main solution here is not ruining the animals’ native environments, or creating reserves.
India’s energy grid is direly overtaxed, resulting in major power shortages for much of the country. Building efficiency measures, such as those suggested by the Obama Administration in America (reconfiguring buildings to make them more sustainable and making sure future construction is more environmentally friendly, including natural cooling techniques and solar panels.
Mining causes significant soil erosion and deforestation, in addition to forced relocation of tribal peoples. Mining needs to be regulated more strictly by states to prevent widespread illegal mining and environmental ruin.
Among India's most pressing environmental problems are land damage, water shortages, and air and water pollution. During 1985, deforestation, which, especially in the Himalaya watershed areas, aggravates the danger of flooding, averaged 1,471 sq km (568 sq mi) per year. India also lost 50% of its mangrove area between 1963 and 1977. Despite three decades of flood-control programs that had already cost an estimated $10 billion, floods in 1980 alone claimed nearly 2,000 lives, killed tens of thousands of cattle, and affected 55 million people on 11.3 million hectares (28 million acres) of land. As of the mid-1990s, 60% of the land where crops could be grown had been damaged by the grazing of the nation's 406 million head of livestock, deforestation, misuse of agricultural chemicals, and salinization.
Due to uncontrolled dumping of chemical and industrial waste, fertilizers and pesticides, 70% of the surface water in India is polluted. The nation has 1,260 cu km of renewable water resources, of which 92% is used for farming. Safe drinking water is available to 95% of urban and 79% of rural dwellers. Air pollution is most severe in urban centers, but even in rural areas, the burning of wood, charcoal, and dung for fuel, coupled with dust from wind erosion during the dry season, poses a significant problem. Industrial air pollution threatens some of India's architectural treasures, including the Taj Mahal in Agra, part of the exterior of which has been dulled and pitted by airborne acids. In what was probably the worst industrial disaster of all time, a noxious gas leak from a Union Carbide pesticide plant in Bhopal, the capital of Madhya Pradesh, killed more than 1,500 people and injured tens of thousands of others in December 1985. In 1992 India had the world's sixth-highest level of industrial carbon dioxide emissions, which totaled 769 million metric tons, a per capita level of 0.88 metric tons.
The environmental effects of intensive urbanization are evident in all the major cities, although Calcutta—once a symbol of urban blight—has been freed of cholera, and most of the city now has water purification and sewer services. Analogous improvements have been made in other leading cities under the Central Scheme for Environmental Improvement in Slum Areas, launched in 1972, which provided funds for sewers, community baths and latrines, road paving, and other services. However, as of the mid-1990s, only 21 of India's 3,245 cities had effective sewage treatment.
The National Committee on Environmental Planning and Coordination was established in 1972 to investigate and propose solutions to environmental problems resulting from continued population growth and consequent economic development; in 1980, the Department of the Environment was created. The sixth development plan (1979–84), which for the first time included a section on environmental planning and coordination, gave the planning commission veto power over development projects that might damage the environment; this policy was sustained in the seventh development plan (1985–90). The National Environmental Engineering Research Institute has field center areas throughout the country.
The Wildlife Act of 1972 prohibits killing of and commerce in threatened animals. In 1985 there were 20 national parks and more than 200 wildlife sanctuaries. As of 2001, 4.4% of India's total land area was protected. In addition to 75 species of mammals, 73 types of birds are endangered, as are 785 plant species. Endangered species in India include the lion-tailed macaque, five species of langur, the Indus dolphin, wolf, Asiatic wild dog, Malabar large-spotted civet, clouded leopard, Asiatic lion, Indian tiger, leopard, snow leopard, cheetah, Asian elephant, dugong, wild Asian ass, great Indian rhinoceros, Sumatran rhinoceros, pygmy hog, swamp deer, Himalayan musk deer, Kashmir stag or hangul, Asiatic buffalo, gaur, wild yak, white-winged wood duck, four species of pheasant, the crimson tragopan, Siberian white crane, great Indian bustard, river terrapin, marsh and estuarine crocodiles, gavial, and Indian python. Although wardens are authorized to shoot poachers on game reserves, poaching continues, with the Indian rhinoceros (whose horn is renowned for its supposed aphrodisiac qualities) an especially valuable prize.
With regards to environmental issues in India, India appears to be digging its own grave deeper and quicker than the rest of us, nearly 30% of India's gross agricultural output is lost every year due to soil degradation, poor land management and counter productive irrigation. The wetlands and lakes are also being hit hard. Mainly by the industrial boom that hit India a decade ago, the main problems being improper disposal of industrial waste like chemicals etc.
India's 7516 km of coastline have also come under attack from this environmental sabotage, overfishing remains a huge problem due to lack of legislation enforcement. Raw sewage from an awful lot of people is pumped endlessly into the ocean along with other industrial waste and chemicals. Hundreds of miles of coral and other sea life are slowly being destroyed due to offshore drilling.
Tourist centres such as Goa suffer due to badly managed development and excessive tourism, again resulting from the lack of legislation and policy enforcement.
Perhaps the largest of the environmental issues in India facing the people of India is inadequate or lack of access to vital fresh water resources. As India's industries get bigger so will the amount of water they require and the amounts are already beginning to spiral. As an example I use the Coca cola factory which was accused for years of messing up an entire eco system. By simply diverting all the water to their factory, millions of people went without. The company are also accused of causing huge droughts and contamination to a massive area by exploiting an excessive amount of ground water and then replacing it with toxic discharge. Of course, Coca Cola is a big famous company and that is why this came to news but I have no doubt that there are a million examples of similar things happening all over India.
Years of exploitation and extraction of groundwater in India has caused the national water table to suddenly and very dramatically drop. Considering that 85% of rural drinking water and 55% of urban water comes from underground sources, this seems to me a very urgent problem as literally hundreds of millions of people could be left without water…does it even bear thinking about!
The rivers are on the front line of pollution in India. Millions of people depend on them for their livelihoods but they are slowly being polluted and destroyed by sewage, chemicals and other agricultural and industrial waste. These are some of the most polluted rivers in the world but little seems to be to stem the incessant destruction.
The story of deforestation is another of the highly serious environmental issues in India. It is predicted that almost 5.3 Million hectares of forest have been destroyed since the independence. Most of it being chopped down for housing, industrialisation and river projects. It is estimated that the number of Mangrove Forests have more than halved in the last 20 years.
The government soon recognised the importance that these forests hold for the conservation of soil and put forward a range of polices trying to curb the destruction; of course, nothing has really changed and thousands of acres are destroyed every year with nothing in the way of 'replacement'. Poor management and abuse of power are again the increasingly sad cause behind the mass deforestation of India, some call it greed. Protected areas are largely declassified so that commercial activities can take place but new areas are not reclassified. Poaching is another factor, people actually coming in and steeling trees and one of the final blows to the forest of India who already seem to have lost the battle is the invasion of foreign tree species such as Eucalyptus etc.
India now has one of the worst qualities of air in the world. Without a doubt the main contributor of air pollution in India is the transport system. In the big cities like Delhi and Mumbai, millions of old and very dirty diesel engines churn out millions of tonnes more sulphur than their western equivalents partly because of being old and partly because of the diesel. As a result, the asthma rate for children in some of the larger cities is now at %50 and rising fast.
Because of the varied causes and consequences surrounding this topic, I've devoted a whole page to India air pollution.
Plastics and other waste
I have already touched on the massive problem of waste disposal but I intend to go into it more here. It seems that some areas are simply fed up with the lack of Government intervention and are using there initiatives. As an example I use some of the towns and villages in Kerala who are seeing a return to the old paper bags from plastic ones.
As I am sure you know, plastic isn't in any urgency to degrade but the people of India don't seem to recognise this as they throw every unwanted item onto the floor wherever they are. Of course, the victims of this environmental issues in India are the future generations and the animals. The holy cows that are so integral to Indian life are slowly being killed from the huge amount of plastic bags they consume that eventually rap around their insides.
Major environmental concerns of India are:
• Air Pollution
• Noise Pollution
• Water Pollution
• Natural Disasters
• Global Warming
• Soil and Land Degradation
• Population Explosion
• Loss of Biodiversity
“India is likely to suffer a wide array of impacts, ranging from insecure energy and food supplies and reduced availability of fresh water to extreme weather events, such as cyclones, flooding, heatwaves, and droughts. The worst-hit will be the poor in both rural and urban areas, who are more vulnerable and whose ability to recover from disasters is lower. Public health, human development goals and the country’s rich biodiversity will all be hit.” Climate disturbances such as high floods and droughts frequencies during the annual monsoon season and the fast melting of the Himalayan glaciers will likely to create water crisis for India in next 20 to 50 years.
Sedimentation and discharge of industrial effluents are prominent sources of water pollution, and the burning of wood for fuel is a significant source of indoor air pollution and respiratory problems. Vehicular and industrial emissions increasingly have contributed to air pollution in urban areas.
Deforestation and land degradation appear to affect a far greater proportion of the population and have the worst consequences for economic growth and individuals’ livelihoods. Forest loss has contributed to floods, soil erosion, and stagnant agricultural output. Estimates suggest that from 1966 to 2000 forest cover declined from 45 to 29 percent of the total land area. Often cited causes of deforestation include population growth, high fuelwood consumption, infrastructure projects, and conversion of forests into grazing- and cropland. According to government estimates, 1.5 million tons of soil nutrients are lost annually, and by 2002 approximately 5 percent of agricultural holdings had been rendered uncultivable as a result of soil erosion and flooding.
Land degradation is attributed to population growth, improper use of agro-chemicals, and overly intensive use of landholdings that are too small to provide most households with sufficient food. Since the late 1980s, government policies have attempted to address these numerous and related problems, but policies often are hampered by lack of funding, insufficient understanding of Nepal’s mountain ecosystems, bureaucratic inefficiency, and sometimes contentious relations between the central government and local communities.
Nepal's environment has suffered the effects of agricultural encroachment, deforestation and consequent soil erosion, and contamination of the water supply. Between the mid-1960s and the late 1970s, forestland declined from 30% to 22% of the total area, mainly because of the felling of timber for firewood, which supplies over 90% of Nepal's fuel requirements. Moreover, it is estimated that erosion causes the loss of about 240 million cu m of topsoil each year.
All of Nepal's forests were nationalized in 1957, but reforestation efforts have been minimal. A forest conservation program, begun in 1980, includes the establishment of village tree nurseries, free distribution of seedlings, and provision of wood-burning stoves of increased efficiency. By 1985, however, deforestation averaged 324 sq mi per year, while reforestation was only 4,000 hectares (9,900 acres) per year. An additional4.4% of forest and woodland were lost between 1983 and 1993. The FAO estimates that at the present rate of depletion, the forests will be virtually wiped out by 2015.
Air and water pollution are significant environmental problems in Nepal. According to United Nations sources, the nation produces 18,000 tons of carbon monoxide and 3,300 tons of hydrocarbons per year. Roughly one-third of the nation's city inhabitants and two-thirds of all rural dwellers do not have pure water, and the use of contaminated drinking water creates a health hazard. Untreated sewage is a major pollution factor: the nation's cities produce an average of 0.4 million tons of solid waste per year.
In 2001, 28 of Nepal's mammal species and 27 of its bird species were endangered, as were 7 plant species. Species classified as endangered in Nepal include the snow leopard, tiger, Asian elephant, pygmy hog, great Indian rhinoceros, Assam rabbit, swamp deer, wild yak, chir pheasant, and gavial.
In Nepal, various developmental activities have created a number of environmental problems such as loss of forest, forest degradation, soil erosion, air pollution, water pollution and unmanaged solid-waste. It is imperative that environmental consideration and its management in development planning play a crucial role in enabling and sustaining poverty reduction. To overcome environmental problems, the Government, NGOs, & INGOs have successfully applied and stressed for potential intervention through policy and legislative measures and various economic instruments.
Environment - current issues: deforestation (overuse of wood for fuel and lack of alternatives); contaminated water (with human and animal wastes, agricultural runoff, and industrial effluents); wildlife conservation; vehicular emissions
“UNEP has warned that more than 40 Himalayan glacial lakes are dangerously close to bursting because of the ice melt caused by global warming. Rapidly melting glaciers means more seasonal variation in river flow, which will in turn result in more floods and draughts in the country. This will also result in more Glacier Lake Outburst Floods, which can be disastrous to communities and infrastructure along the rivers. Other impacts of climate change can be reduced agriculture production, loss of biodiversity, increased desertification and changes in social structure.”
Current issues: water pollution from raw sewage, industrial wastes, and agricultural runoff; limited natural fresh water resources; a majority of the population does not have access to potable water; deforestation; soil erosion; desertification
Little attention was paid to pollution .Some are these Related concerns, such as sanitation and potable water, received earlier scrutiny. In 1987 only about 6 percent of rural residents and 51 percent of urban residents had access to sanitary facilities; a Greater success has been achieved in bringing potable water within reach of the people; nearly half the population enjoyed such access by 1990. However, researchers at the Pakistan Medical Research Council, recognizing that a large proportion of diseases in Pakistan are caused by the consumption of polluted water, have been questioning the “safe” classification in use in the 1990s. Even the 38 percent of the population that receives its water through pipelines runs the risk of consuming seriously contaminated water, although the problem varies by area. In Punjab, for example, as much as 90 percent of drinking water comes from groundwater, as compared with only 9 percent in Sindh.
The central government's Perspective Plan (1988–2003) and previous five-year plans do not mention sustainable development strategies. Further, there have been no overarching policies focused on sustainable development and conservation. The state has focused on achieving self sufficiency in food production, meeting energy demands, and containing the high rate of population growth, not on curtailing pollution or other environmental hazards.
In 1992 Pakistan's National Conservation Strategy Report attempted to redress the previous inattention to the nation's mounting environmental problem. Drawing on the expertise of more than 3,000 people from a wide array of political affiliations, the government produced a document outlining the current state of environmental health, its sustainable goals, and viable program options for the future.
Of special concern to environmentalists is the diminishing forest cover in watershed regions of the northern highlands, which has only recently come under close scrutiny.
A number of serious environmental problems are inherent in the country, which are of great ecological concern in terms of its sustainable economic future. These include soil erosion, pesticide misuse, deforestation, desertification, urban pollution, waterlogging & salinity, freshwater pollution and marine water pollution, just to name a few. The major constraint to overcoming these problems, in-fact perhaps the main contributor to their intensity is the population growth, which is very high in contrast to the natural limited resources that are available to the people. Also included in the constraints is the unsustainable use and management of these resources. Around 140 million people live in this country, making it the seventh most populous country in the world. The rate of population growth is one of the fastest and according to estimates it would double in just 25 years (UNDP 1997). What is obvious from this is, if the population continues to grow at this rate, it would take a severe toll in the environment. The reason being that the country is not endowed with the resources required sustaining a huge population. Although it is primarily an agricultural country, the landscape is predominantly arid. Water, already a scarce commodity in most parts of the country, is now facing further shortages. This is also due in part to inadequate distribution and the coercion of the water-tanker mafia. This shortage is hindering the country's potential to develop agriculture. There are limited indigenous sources of energy, fossil fuel reserves are low and there is no great potential in the biomass energy.
The combination of a large population and poor resource environment means that judicious means of energy use and minimum waste systems of production as well as lifestyles must be employed for sustainable development. The picture in Pakistan is however very different in fact totally opposite to this. Energy use is excessively inefficient; Pakistan's GDP per unit energy used is 4.0, which ranks it 69th out of 110 countries for which data is aviablable . (UNDP). This waste of energy is combined with the need to import fossil fuels and as a consequence there is a very low productive per capita use of energy.
The use of raw materials is also inefficient and many reusable resources are discarded as waste. Only 3% of the industrial plants meet international waste treatment standards. There are serious effluent problems and lack of sanitation affecting the natural resources and posing unmitigated health risks.
The main water sources in Pakistan are rivers, glaciers, rainfall and groundwater. The rainfall pattern is extreme due to the varied topography of the country. Average rainfall is between 50 to 1000 mm but in the isolated northern mountains it may exceed 2000 mm. On the other hand the dry areas receive less than 125 mm on an average. Almost 75% of the country receive less than 250 mm annually. The rainfall is dependent on the two monsoon seasons, the most important being the Southwestern monsoon between June to September. The high temperatures mean that there is high evaporation, which leads to loss of water everywhere.
Pakistan occupies the basin of three major rivers, which is of considerable importance to the country. Indus (70% of total land area), Kharan closed basin (15% of the total land area) and the Makran coastal basin (15% of the total land area) are the three basins, with the Indus basin representing the largest potential. It mainly draws its water from snowmelt and precipitation. The surface waters of the rivers have not been exploited, as they are seasonal and irregular. The Indus Water Treaty (1960) between India and Pakistan has restricted Pakistan's access to the water in the Indus basin, to the Indus, Chenab and Jhelum rivers. The combined annual average flow of these and River Kabul is 178 bil cu m ( Asim R. Khan, M. Kaleem Ullah, Saim Muhammad ). The country also boasts the largest contiguous irrigation system in the world, comprising the Indus, its tributaries, 19 barrages and headworks, and 43 canals (Dr. Noor Ahmad Memon- The News- Rawalpindi Islamabad-26/01/98).
Around 90% of the food and fibre production depend on irrigation. Irrigated land is 82.3% of the total arable land and surface water is mainly relied upon for irrigation. The irrigation water available per irrigated acre has risen to 35% from the 1960s. Out of the water tapped from the Indus basin, only 30% actually reaches the roots of the crop. The majority is either lost in canals or when it is being applied to the fields (PNCS- Where we are, where we should be and how to get there ). 90% of the groundwater is already being used through tube-wells. In any case, groundwater has a higher salt content. When it is used in fields it leaves behind a high level of salts after evaporation, thus increasing soil salinity. According to certain researches, operational water losses are 50 - 60% with the majority occurring in fields, canals and water courses (The News - Islamabad-26/01/98).
Considering Pakistan's environmental scenario, it becomes increasingly obvious that water issues are the most pressing. Human health, agriculture, rangelands, forests, waterbodies, and aquatic life, in fact the whole ecosystem is affected by problems associated with water. Not only is there a scarcity of drinking water but pollution of water bodies by effluents from industries and the sewerage system have compounded the problem.
Almost all chemical waste is dumped untreated into the river system from where it is taken out to sea. A large number of industries discharge deadly and toxic waste into storm-drains, open nullahs or in the Lyari and Malir rivers. These include leather tanning units, pharmaceuticals, petrochemicals, refineries, chemical, textile, paper and pulp, engineering works and thermal power plants. The Lyari River has become a putrid and toxic gutter due to discharge of effluents. Solid waste also finds its way into the water system. The first environmental assessment study in the country was conducted at the SITE industrial area to record the effect of industrial wastewater on Karachi's vegetation (Dr. S.A. Qadir). The chemical analysis revealed that there were traces of heavy metals such as chromium and nickel in the vegetable samples. Invariably, this showed that that the industries were not using any pollution control measures whatsoever. Untreated industrial waste is not only affecting the environment but ultimately is also having its toll on the country's health, by polluting the water bodies. This renders them useless for human consumption and irrigation. Consequently, it is responsible for the many water borne diseases that plague the country and account for 60% of infant deaths.
The industrial waste is also used to irrigate some vegetable and fruit farms that have cropped up in the Korangi Industrial Area. These fruit and vegetables show a presence of metals and other toxins. A study conducted by IUCN suggests that spinach from Korangi farms contains as much as 87.48 mg/l of chromium (Bhagwandas - Dawn 7/01/98), a lot more than that harvested in other areas.
The discharge of sewage and contaminated water in rivers and water bodies not only affects marine production, use of such water for agriculture results in the contamination of the food chain. In Pakistan, sewage water is re-channelled to irrigate crops, which contaminates them with pathogens. As a result 50% of the crops are contaminated. Groundwater may also be contaminated by untreated sewage. Water borne diseases are the largest killers in the country and health problems resulting from polluted water cost a large amount of money.
Karachi produces discharge of wastewater of 300 mil gallons per day and Lahore 240 mil gallons per day. There are three sewerage plants in Karachi but they are able to treat only 45 MGD (15% of the total wastewater). Of particular interest are the rivers Ravi and Kabul. They have sustained life for thousands of years and the historical city of Lahore is based around the Ravi. Today, Lahore and Peshawar discharge their wastewater into these rivers increasing their BOD level to 193-100mg/l for Ravi. The level allowed by the NEQS is 80 mg/l! There is an annual loss of 5000 tonnes of fish catch from this river. No life exists in it for 7 miles downstream.
Indiscriminate use of pesticides and fertilisers ensure that agricultural run-off from fields also contributes to water pollution. Extensive use of agricultural chemicals has already started affecting aquifers.
The climate of the country ranges from heat, humidity and rainfall, either resulting in arid lands or providing favourable conditions for irrigated agriculture. This in turn means a thriving pest population. Estimates suggest that around one-third of the yield is destroyed by pests or disease (Karam Ahad and Dr. Yousuf Hayat Khan -The News, Rawalpindi Islamabad, 12-01-1998). To overcome this problem, pesticides have developed into a major agricultural product (80 % are used on cotton alone). Introduced in 1954 at the onset of the green revolution, pesticide consumption in Pakistan rose from 3677 metric tonnes in 1981 to 14745 metric tonnes in 1991. In rupee terms this equalled 4581 million rupees. By 1996 this had gone up to 43219 metric tonnes, Rs. 9987 million (Karam Ahad and Dr. Yousuf Hayat Khan -The News, Rawalpindi Islamabad, 12-01-1998). An exhaustive study conducted by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations found that pesticide use in Pakistan increased 1,169 percent between 1981 and 1999.
When DDT (Dichloro Diphenyl Trichloroethane) was first made in the 1880s it was considered a 'magical' insecticide. Chemist Paul Miller introduced it for the first time in 1938, an act that resulted in a Nobel Prize for him. At that time it helped to save millions of people from typhus and malaria (Karam Ahad and Dr. Yousuf Hayat Khan -The News, Rawalpindi Islamabad, 12-01-1998). Insecticides and pesticides thus became popular both as fight against diseases as well as saving crops from pests. It took around forty years to strike, that these substances also had side effects after Racheal Carson published Silent Spring, in 1962. It soon became apparent that new pests with greater resistance were emerging in addition to soil, air and water being contaminated and predators of the pests being eliminated. The environment and biodiversity of the planet was being destroyed which ultimately might have more adverse consequences.
A World Health Organisation (WHO) study revealed that two million people suffered from pesticide poisoning and 40,000 die per year. Most of these were from developing countries, which have been urged to buy pesticides from corporations from the developed world. The pesticides are carcinogenic and mutagenic causing sterility, low fertility, skin cancer, immune and hormonal system disorder. In Pakistan, pesticide residues have been found in water, soil and even food commodities. The situation is worse here because many of these are either sold under generic names or are fake and adulterated.
The seas have been used as dumps for ages, mainly due to the misconception that they are so large, whatever is put into them gets diluted. However, the truth of the matter is that most of the contaminated water entering the sea has a density different to that of the natural seawater. This means that it does not mix and in fact settles down at the bottom of the ocean as sludge, which may be 1.5 foot deep in certain areas (Bhagwandas - Dawn - 7/01/98).
Much of the water from the rivers finds its way down to the sea, taking with it all the toxic effluents. There have been major changes in the coastal environment in the last 200 years. Some of them are due to natural causes such as the gradual change in course of the River Indus, which moved to the southeast of Karachi. Main causes are diverting the water of the river for irrigation and extensive pollution. The coastal pollution is mainly confined to the Karachi Harbour, which encloses an area of 62 km 2 . It stretches from sandspit in the west to Chinna Creek in the east. A variety of effluents from domestic sources, and waste from visiting ships (estimated 2,500 annually) all contribute to the depressing state of the harbour especially around the Manora Channel. The Karachi Nuclear Power Plant (KANUPP) uses 150,000 gallons of seawater for cooling. Liquid waste and hot water from the plant is subsequently discharged into the sea.
Domestic sources of marine pollution: Metal scrap, Rust from shipping yard, Oil and liquid waste from fish processing plants, Industrial effluents, Solid waste, Spillage of grains, Visiting ships.
It is estimated that 90,000 tonnes of oil products from vessels and port terminals are dumped into the harbour every year. In addition, there is also the threat of oil pollution from other countries especially the Gulf of Oman and the Persian Gulf.
An estimated 200 million gallons (Environmental Assessment and Protection of Karachi Harbour, Neville Burt 1997) of raw sewage enters Karachi harbour mainly through Lyari River and Chinna Creek. There is no non-saline (freshwater) input except for the local run-off from rainfall.
Plastic bags are found all over the harbour and are not only an eyesore but also damaging to marine life. A wide-diversity of garbage including wood and plastic are also apparent. The garbage originates from the municipal waste and port activities. Water circulation and wind driven currents concentrate this in certain parts of the harbour, making it unsightly and dangerous to ships as it can get stuck in propellers. It can be expected that there is also significant amount of solid waste, which will have sunk to the bed of the harbour (Environmental Assessment and Protection of Karachi Harbour, Neville Burt 1997).
According to a PCSIR (1999) study, huge amounts of toxic metals have been found in the marine life, such as fish, lobster, crabs and shrimp. The metals include mercury, cadmium, chromium, lead, arsenic, and zinc. Many of these metals are carcinogens and can cause genetic deformities and other fatal diseases. They are mainly released by the industrial estates. Hardly 2% of these industries have the facilities to treat their effluents before releasing.
The results of all of these pollutants are that microorganisms (planktons) consume them and they enter the food chain. An IUCN study of fishmeal (made of locally caught fish) used as feed for poultry discovered that it had 33 ppm of chromium. High levels of chromium were found in chicken and eggs as well (Bhagwandas - Dawn - 7/01/98).
Land degradation puts countless obstacles in the sustainable production capacity of the agriculture sector. Wind and water erosion, waterlogging and salinity, deforestation and desertification all accelerate the degradation process.
“The world is green and beautiful and God has appointed you his stewards over it. He sees how you acquit yourselves ” (Muslim)
Forests, scrub and planted trees on farmland constitute about 4.2 million hectares (4.8%) of the country (Forest Sector Master Plan GOP 1992 from Environmental Profile of Pakistan 1998). The majority (40%) of the forests are either coniferous or scrub. Irrigated plantations and riverine & coastal forests make up the rest. 1.78 million hectares is covered by hill forests which include species such as deodar, fir, blue pine, spruce, juniper, chir pine, oak and horse chestnut (The Nature of Pakistan). These forests grow in the watershed areas protecting the fragile mountain ecosystem and helping abate floods and droughts. They are a major source of timber, fuelwood and resin and this, coupled with the increasing grazing requirements is posing a major threat.
The foothill forests (comprising acacia and kau) are also subjected to over-grazing. Shisham and mulberry (in Punjab) and babul and eucalyptus (in Sindh) make up the man-made irrigated forests and are mainly used for fuelwood and timber for the furniture and sports-goods industries.
Although different figures suggest that the per capita use of timber is the lowest in the world, the declining rate of woody biomass is the second highest in the world. Two studies have shown that it is between 4%-6% per year (GOP 1992, Hosier 1993 from Biodiversity Action Plan). Almost 7,000 to 9,000 hectares are deforested every year and this rate is especially severe in the north where the per capita consumption for fuelwood is 10 times higher due to the severe winter. The following factors are the main causes of deforestation.
According to the two studies, consumption for household firewood exceeds production in all provinces except the Northern Areas, which are sparsely populated. Due to the increase in population, consumption would probably go up to 3% per year. Pakistan's woody biomass may be totally consumed within the next 10-15 years.
Another adverse factor is the lopping of trees for commercial purposes. Pakistan has a thriving timber market and many a time; illegal logging takes place to support the market and to make a fast buck. The high price of timber has greatly accelerated forest depletion.
The timber business goes back to colonial times. After partition when the princely states such as Chitral, Dir, and Swat were abolished, the change in rule created a vacuum in the management of the forests. This accelerated the depletion of the reserves. The state had the legal ownership of the forests, however, it disregarded the needs of the local people. While under princely rule, the emphasis of forest management was on supporting the local economy, now it shifted to being a revenue-generating source for the government. Investment in forest conservation was inconsequential as compared to their harvest.
Unrestricted livestock grazing is also a severe threat. Trees have always been chopped down to allow grass to grow, in order to feed livestock. In some cases forests are set on fire for this purpose also and the rate has gone beyond sustainability in many areas. In addition forests are also cleared for agriculture.
Regional case studies also portray a dismal picture. A study of the Siran project area (Hazara, NWFP), shows a 52% decline in the resource between 1967 and 1992. If this continues at the present pace, the Siran forests will disappear by the year 2005 (Archer 1996). Similar cases are present in the Kaghan Valley and Allai Valley. Plantation survival rates are well below the 75 % target set by the Household Energy Strategy Study (HESS).
There is a similar trend present in the mangrove forests of the Indus Delta, which has halved from 2,600 square kilometres in the late 1970s to 1,300 in the 1990s. The depletion is mainly due to the grazing by camels (16,000) owned by the local communities and consumption as fuelwood.
The scrub forest is mainly consumed for grazing, especially in the winter, and reduced water allocation is adversely affecting riverine forests. 50% of the original riverine forests have been degenerated beyond economic viability.
More than half of the remaining mangroves forests, more than two-thirds of riverain forests and more than nine -tenths of remaining coniferous forests have less than 50% cover
These are government figures and discrepancy is usually found in government and actual figures as the government defines figures according to legal rather than biological criteria.
Desertification is a process that turns productive land into non-productive desert. It occurs mainly in semi-arid areas (mean rainfall less than 600 mm) bordering on deserts. The arid and semi-arid rangelands in Pakistan show signs of being strained. The threat of overgrazing, over-harvesting and overstocking of the natural vegetation is aggravating the situation. The change in grazing practices has virtually reduced some areas in the Cholistan desert to sand dunes. According to one estimate more than 60% of the natural grazing areas of the country have production levels lower than one third of their biological potential. More than one-third of the country has been classified as under risk of desertification (45 million hectares). Deforestation, over cultivation, excessive cutting of fuelwood and incorrect irrigation practices all have a share in this problem.
Around 15.9 million hectares of land (18% of total) affected by soil erosion. Out of this, 11,172,000 hectares affected by water erosion, while 4760,000 hectares affected by wind erosion.
Soil erosion is taking place at an alarming rate and is mainly due to deforestation in the north. Water erosion is prominent on steep slopes such as the Potohar track and surrounding areas, an area extensively used for cultivation. Water erosion and poor land management is also affecting watersheds in the upper Indus River and its tributaries. The highest recorded rate of erosion is in the Indus catchment between the Tarbela reservoir and 90 - km upstream where soil loss is estimated to be 150-165 tonnes/hectare/year. Overall, 28% of soil is being lost to water. 14% of the storage capacity of Tarbela was lost within 10 years of being completed. The Indus River carried the fifth largest load of sediment (4.49t/h) in the world in 1990. According to some estimates the Indus is adding 500,000 tonnes of sediment to the Tarbela Reservoir every day, reducing the life of the dam by 22% and the capacity of reservoir by 16%.
Wind erosion has a relatively lower impact than water erosion. However, the combination of the two is more devastating. This reduces the productivity of the land by 1.5-7.5% per year. This affects almost one-fifth of the Punjab.
Waterlogging and Salinity
These problems usually occur together and are a result of intensive and continuous use of surface irrigation. Some experts consider them more important than soil erosion because they occur in the most productive areas of the Indus Basin. More than 2 million hectares of land is waterlogged (JRC 1989d), and the inefficient historical planning of the irrigation system is the culprit. It is 100 years old with unlined canals, resulting in the seepage of water into the topsoil,. Salinity usually follows. When the water evaporates the salts are left behind and the area becomes unfit for agriculture. In over 25% of the Indus basin the water table has risen to 2 m of the soil surface, resulting inn 40,000 hectares of land being lost annually to both these problems. In some areas it has gone up to I m. Over 5.7 million hectares of land are salt affected and 2.4 million hectares is highly saline according to the Soil Survey of Pakistan. The soil of 13.6 million hectares within the Gross Command Area was surveyed, which revealed that 3.1 million hectares (23%) was saline. 23% of this was in Sindh and 13% in the Punjab. Waterlogging and salinity pose serious threats to the primarily agricultural economy and may also affect the remaining forests in the basin. In any case, the increase in this problem could mean the clearing up of the adjacent forests to make room for more agricultural land.
Environment - current issues: water pollution from raw sewage, industrial wastes, and agricultural runoff; limited natural freshwater resources; most of the population does not have access to potable water; deforestation; soil erosion; desertification
The impacts of climate change are already being felt in Pakistan, as “there has been an increase in the incidence, frequency, and intensity of extreme climatic events: more intense and heavier rainfall in coastal areas, more intense cyclones, more intense flooding in flood-prone areas along the Indus, and more pronounced droughts in the arid areas of Khuzdar.”
Other current impacts of climate change include increasingly erratic rainfall patterns, a shift in the cropping period, and hotter summers and warmer winters.