Friday, October 21, 2005

Environmental concerns in El Salvador

A collection of stories about environmental concerns in El Salvador.

The newsletter of the Foundation for Self Sufficiency in Central America describes the perils to the environmentally sensitive Bay of Jalisco:

El Salvador ranks 2nd only to Haiti in the western hemisphere for deforestation. Only 2% of the original forest cover now exists. This desperate environmental situation led many internationally-known environmental organizations to give up on the country completely. Many have said there is nothing left worth saving.El Salvador certainly faces tremendous environmental challenges. The more than 40% of the population that lives in poverty has more concerns about their daily survival than about the long-term consequences of cutting down trees for firewood, burning garbage, or polluting the water with human waste. In the Bay of Jiquilisco, through ignorance and a lack of alternatives, some people catch fish with dynamite. The rich and powerful see the Bay as a potential source of revenue: industrial shrimp farms, coastal hotels, and golf courses - all of which would produce toxic waste that could pour untreated into the Bay.

Read the entire newsletter for a description of the Foundation's Salvadoran partner, the Coordinadora, working to preserve the Bay.

In other environmental news, community groups marched to protest the mining operations of Pacific Rim. Diario CoLatino describes the march which sought to have the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources deny Pacific Rim's application to exploit mineral resources. The marchers fear contamination of water supplies and other harms. See my earlier post on Pacific Rim here.

One of the major environmental concerns in El Salvador is deforestation. In assessing the impacts of deforestation, a recent UN study concludes that deforestation does not lead to increased flooding. Apparently soil can only hold so much water, regardless of whether or not trees are growing in that soil. The study's conclusion does not imply, however, that deforestation does not contribute to mudslides or similar damage.

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