In 2000, Armenia's chief environmental problems resulted from natural disasters, pollution, and warfare. A strong earthquake in 1988 resulted in 55,000 casualties. Radiation from the meltdown of the nuclear reactor facility at Chernobyl in the former Soviet Union also polluted the environment. The nation's soil has also been polluted by chemicals including DDT and the Hrazdan and Ares rivers have also been polluted. The war between Armenia and Azerbaijan has strained the country's economy, limiting the resources that can be devoted to environmental preservation. It has also led to an energy blockade that has caused deforestation as trees are cut for firewood. Yet another environmental hazard is the restarting of the Metsamor nuclear power plant, which has been brought online without the safety systems recommended by the IAEA.
From 1990–1995, deforestation occurred at an average annual rate of 2.69%. As of 2001, 7.6% of the total land area in Armenia is protected. Also as of 2001, 4 of the nation's 84 species of mammal were endangered, as were 5 species of bird and 3 species of reptile. Endangered species include the Barbel sturgeon, Dahl's jird, and the field adder.
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