Blog Action Day -- The Environment and El Salvador
Today is Blog Action Day. Thousands of bloggers across the world have united to post on a single topic on this day-- the environment. With thousands of blogs and millions of readers, the idea is to put a single subject on the world agenda for the day.
The challenges faced by El Salvador on environmental issues are great, and I've touched on many of them in this blog.
One of the issues is deforestation. El Salvador has less than 2% of its original forest cover. The impact of plantation agriculture, urban sprawl, and poverty has reduced the natural protection to soil and wildlife provided by trees. You can read my posts on deforestation and its impacts at this link.
A second issue is contaminated surface waters. The highly contaminated Acelhuate and Sucio Rivers are responsible for providing a third of the San Salvador metropolitan area’s water supply according to a World Bank report on environmental regulation in El Salvador. A member on a delegation trip sponsored by the Share Foundation described what they observed on a visit to the banks of the Rio Sucio. Read my series on El Salvador's water issues at this link.
A third issue is the threat posed by gold mining. Civil society organizations are mobilizing to prevent gold mining from occurring in the country. For the most past, mining activities are currently limited to exploration, and protesters are determined to keep it that way. In other Latin American countries, gold mining has scarred the landscape and ruined scarce water resources. Read my posts on gold mining at this link.
A fourth issue is disposal of solid wastes. El Salvador is moving to close its open air dumps and moving to sanitary landfills. Establishing landfills in new locations has created conflict in local communities. This weekend Diario Colatino reports that 16 people were injured in clashes between protesters and police at the site of a proposed landfill outside Santa Ana.
But there are some success stories. The Salvadoran government finally took action and shut down the Record Batteries facility which was producing lead contamination in the surrounding community. Coffee farming is looking towards sustainable techniques that promote biodiversity. Biogas projects may reduce deforestation caused by tree cutting for kitchen firewood.
And as the government and population look more towards tourism as a revenue source, the necessity of preserving the country's natural beauty, in locations such as El Pital, will become more and more apparent.