Spain - Environment
Extensive forests are now limited to the Pyrenees and the Asturias-Galicia area in the north because centuries of unplanned cutting have depleted stands. Fire eliminates 700,000 to 1,000,000 hectares of forestland each year. Government reforestation schemes meet with difficulties where sheep and goats graze freely over large areas. During the 1980s, an average of 92,000 hectares (227,000 acres) were reforested annually. Erosion affects 18% of the total land mass of Spain.
Air pollution is also a problem in Spain. In 1995 industrial carbon dioxide emissions totaled 223.2 million metric tons (a per capita level of 5.72 metric tons), ranking Spain 20th compared to the other nations of the world. Industrial and agricultural sources contribute to the nation's water pollution problem. Spain is also vulnerable to oil pollution from tankers which travel the shipping routes near the nation's shores. Spain's cities produce about 13.8 million tons of solid waste per year.
Principal environmental responsibility is vested in the Directorate General of the Environment, within the Ministry of Public Works and Urban Affairs. As of 2001, 8.4% of the country's total land area is protected. In the same year, 19 of the country's mammal species, 10 bird species, 10 types of freshwater fish, and 822 plant species were endangered. Endangered species include the Spanish lynx, Pyrenean ibex, Mediterranean monk seal, northern bald ibis, Spanish imperial eagle, Cantabrian capercaillie, dusky large blue and Nevada blue butterflies, and on the Canary Islands, the green sea turtle and Hierro giant lizard. The Canarian black oystercatcher and the Canary mouse have become extinct.