Statistical report cites growth in amount of protected areas

Latin American and Caribbean countries have increased the amount of protected areas in order to preserve biodiverity and has reduced consumption of ozone-depleting substances, according to a U.N. agency.

The estimates come from the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean which pubished Wednesday the “Statistical Notebook Nº 38: Environmental Indicators of Latin America and the Caribbean 2009,” which includes indicators that reveal the main environmental trends in the region.

Latin America and the Caribbean is one of the regions in the world that largely depends on the exploitation of natural resources to manage and sustain its economic growth and human development, it said. This document provides governments and the general public with environmental statistical series in the region with the aim of contributing to the monitoring and design of public policies for development and sustainability.

The Statistical Notebook Nº 38 compares indicators calculated for 1990 with the most recent data.
The document reveals, for example, that the designation of protected areas in order to preserve biodiversity made up 19.5 percent of the region’s territory in 2009, whereas in 1990 it was only 9.5 percent.

Another indicator that signals a changing trend over the past two decades is in the lower consumption of ozone-depleting substances: from 74.500 tons of ODP (measurement of ozone depletion potential) in 1989 to 6.700 tons in 2008, it said.

In contrast, the loss of forest surface and coverage in the region worsened from 1990 to 2007 with total loss reaching 78 million hectares (192.7 million acres).

The indicators also show a sustained increase in the intensity of the use of fertilizers and agrochemicals in countries with available information.

With regard to biodiversity, Latin America and the Caribbean shows a concerning index of threatened species (plants and animals), while water and air pollution in cities is also high, with their subsequent effects on the quality of life, human health and the ecosystem, the report said.

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