Azerbaijan - Environment

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.

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