The principal responsibility for environmental matters is vested in the environmental programs department in the Ministry of Health and in the National Planning Office, as well as in the ecological advisory office in the Ministry of National Welfare and the department of the environment in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Chile's main environmental problems are deforestation and the resulting soil erosion, and the pollution of its air, water, and land. Air pollution from industry and transportation and water pollution are especially acute in urban centers, where the population has doubled in the last 30 years. In 1996, Chile's industrial carbon dioxide emissions totaled 48.7 million metric tons. Untreated sewage poses the major threat to the nation's water quality. As of 2001, Chile had 928 cu km of renewable water resources. While 99% of its urban dwellers have pure drinking water, only 58% of its rural dwellers have the same access.
Endangered species in Chile include the South Andean huemul, tundra peregrine falcon, puna rhea, Chilean woodstar, ruddy-headed goose, and green sea turtle. As of the 2001, 16 species of mammals in a total of 91 were considered endangered. Of 296 breeding bird species, 18 were threatened with extinction. Also threatened were four types of freshwater fish and 268 plant species.