Land and Resources, Environmental Issues
marine dumping, illegal logging, desertification, urban residents, forested area
The lush, tropical forests of Honduras are dwindling rapidly. In 1995, 36.8 percent of the country’s total land area was forested, but 2.3 percent (1990-1996) of the forested area disappears every year—one of the highest rates of deforestation in the world. Increased population has led to the clearing of land for farming and the farming of marginal soils in rural areas, as well as to uncontrolled development in the fringes of urban areas. All of these factors contribute to deforestation and consequently to soil erosion. A reforestation program has been hampered by rudimentary lumbering methods and poor transportation facilities.
Water pollution is another environmental concern in Honduras. Heavy metals from mining activities pollute Lake Yojoa, the country’s largest source of fresh water. Although almost all urban residents have access to safe water and sanitation, access is much lower for rural residents.
The Honduran government has designated 9.9 percent (1997) of the country’s total land area protected. This includes the Rio Platano Biosphere Reserve, about 500,000 hectares (about 1.2 million acres) in area. The site is among the last remaining tracts of humid tropical forest in Central America. However, even this reserve is threatened; it has suffered from illegal logging, agricultural intrusion, and commercial hunting. The government has ratified international environmental agreements pertaining to biodiversity, climate change, desertification, endangered species, hazardous wastes, marine dumping, ozone layer protection, tropical timber, and wetlands.
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