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Research about the Environment in Partner Countries


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Research about the Environment in Partner Countries

  2. 2. DANEMARCA Denmark has historically taken a progressive stance on environmental preservation; in 1971 Denmark established a Ministry of Environment and was the first country in the world to implement an environmental law in 1973. To mitigate environmental degradation and global warming the Danish Government has signed the following international agreements: Antarctic Treaty; Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol; Endangered Species Act. These agreements have helped in the reduction in CO2 emissions by Denmark. Denmark was ranked as the 10th best country in the world for "Living Green" by a 2007 Readers Digest survey, and Copenhagen is recognised as one of the most environmentally friendly cities in the world. Much of the city's success can be attributed to a strong municipal policy combined with a sound national policy; in 2006 Copenhagen Municipality received the European Environmental Management Award. The award was given for long-term holistic environmental planning. Recently many of Denmarks smaller Municipalities such as Lolland and Bornholm have also become environmental leaders. Denmark is home to five of the world's ten largest central solar heating plants (CSHP). The world's largest CSHP is situated in the small community of Marstal on the island of Ærø. Copenhagen is the spearhead of the bright green environmental movement in Denmark. In 2008, Copenhagen was mentioned by Clean Edge as one of the key cleantech clusters to watch in the book The Cleantech Revolution. The city is the focal point for more than half of Denmark's 700 cleantech companies and draws on some 46 research institutions. The cluster employs more than 60,000 people and is characterised by a close collaboration between universities, business and governing institutions. The capital's most important cleantech research institutions are the University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen Business School, Risø DTU National Laboratory for Sustainable Energy and the Technical University of Denmark which Risø is now part of. Leading up to the 2009 United Nations Climate Change Conference the University of Copenhagen held the Climate Change: Global Risks, Challenges and Decisions conference where the need for comprehensive action to mitigate climate change was stressed by the international scientific community. Notable figures such as Rajendra K. Pachauri, Chairman of the IPCC, Professor Nicholas Stern, author of the Stern Report and Professor Daniel Kammen all emphasised the good example set by Copenhagen and Denmark in capitalising on cleantech and achieving economic growth while stabilising carbon emissions. Denmark's green house gas emissions per dollar of value produced has been for the most part unstable since 1990, seeing sudden growths and falls. Overall though, there has been a reduction in gas emissions per dollar value added to its market. It is comparable to countries such as Germany, but lagging behind other Scandinavian countries such as Norway and Sweden.
  3. 3. BELGIA About 520 sq km (200 sq mi) of reclaimed coastal land is protected from the sea by concrete dikes. As of 2000, Belgium's most significant environmental problems were air, land and water pollution due to the heavy concentration of industrial facilities in the country. The sources of pollution range from nuclear radiation to mercury from industry and pesticides from agricultural activity. The country's water supply is threatened by hazardous levels of heavy metals, mercury, and phosphorous. It has a renewable water supply of 12 cu km. Pollution of rivers and canals was considered the worst in Europe as of 1970, when strict water- protection laws were enacted. Air pollution reaches dangerous levels due to high concentrations of lead and hydrocarbons. Belgium is also among the 50 nations that emit the highest levels of carbon dioxide from industrial sources. In 1996 its emission level was 106 million metric tons. Belgium's problems with air pollution have also affected neighboring countries by contributing to the conditions which cause acid rain. The Ministry of Public Health and Environment is Belgium's principal environmental agency, and there is also a Secretary of State for Public Health and Environment. The Belgian government has created several environmental policies to eliminate the country's pollution problems: the 1990–95 plan on Mature Development, an Environmental Policy Plan, and the Waste Plan. As of 2001, there were six species of mammals and three species of birds that were endangered. The Mediterranean mouflon, the Atlantic sturgeon, and the black right whale are listed as endangered.
  4. 4. CIPRU One of the unique features of Cyprus' habitats is the wild and sharp differences in elevations and habitats in different parts of the island as well as different climate conditions, all of which supply a diverse habitat for a unique array of fauna and flora. The number of plant species and sub-species of wild plant in Cyprus is possibly in the thousands, many of them being endemic. Wildlife can be seen in Troodos mountains, Larnaca salt lake, Akrotiri salt lake and undoubtedly Akamas national park. Cyprus is home to Cyprus moufflon which is a national symbol of the country. Moufflon is protected and can be seen in Paphos forests towards branches of Troodos Mountain. Under the Town and Country Planning Law of 1972, the government has the power to issue "reservation orders" in order to protect historic buildings, trees, or other specific points. Other conservation laws seek to preserve forests, restrict the hunting of wildlife, and maintain environmental health. The most significant environmental problems in Cyprus are water pollution, erosion, and wildlife preservation. The purity of the water supply is threatened by industrial pollutants, pesticides used in agricultural areas, and the lack of adequate sewage treatment. Other water resource problems include uneven rainfall levels at different times of the year and the absence of natural reservoir catchments. Cyprus has 0.2 cu mi of water, of which 91% is used for farming activity. One hundred percent of Cyprus' urban and rural dwellers have access to safe water. Another environmental concern is erosion, especially erosion of Cyprus's coastline. In accordance with the Foreshore Protection Law, several coastal areas have been zoned to prevent undesirable development. The Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources has primary responsibility for environmental matters. The expansion of urban centers threatens the habitat of Cyrpus' wildlife. As of 1994, one mammal species, 17 types of birds and 43 plant species in a total of 2,000 are threatened with extinction. About 20 species of flora are protected. The Cyprus mouflon or wild sheep is protected in the Paphos Forest game reserve.
  5. 5. GRECIA Among Greece's principal environmental problems are industrial smog and automobile exhaust fumes in metropolitan Athens. Over half of all industry is located in the greater Athens area. From June to August 1982, the air pollution became so oppressive that the government closed down 87 industries, ordered 19 others to cut production, and banned traffic from the city center. In July 1984, the smog again reached the danger point, and 73 factories were ordered to cut production and cars were banned from the city. In January 1988, the number of taxis in the center of Athens was halved, and private cars were banned from the city's three main thoroughfares. The smog regularly sends hundreds of Greeks to the hospital with respiratory and heart complaints. Greece is among the 50 nations with the world's highest levels of industrial carbon dioxide. In 1992, it ranked 37th, with emissions totaling 73.8 million metric tons, a per capita level of 7.25. In 1996, the total rose to 80.6 million metric tons. Greece's pollution problems are the result of almost complete disregard for environmental protection measures during the rapid industrial growth of the 1970s, compounded by unbalanced development and rapid, unregulated urban growth. Water pollution is a significant problem due to industrial pollutants, agricultural chemicals such as fertilizers and pesticides, and sewage. The Gulf of Saronikos is one of the most polluted areas because 50% of Greece's industrial facilities are located there. Greece has 54 cu km of renewable water resources with 81% used for farming and 3% used for industrial purposes. The nation's cities produce about 3.5 million tons of solid waste per year. Government policies have emphasized rational use of natural resources, balanced regional development, protection of the environment, and increased public participation in environmental matters. Four environmental and planning services were consolidated under the Ministry for Physical Planning, Housing, and the Environment. In 2001, 13 of Greece's mammal species and 10 of its bird species were endangered. Six types of reptiles and 16 types of freshwater fish were also endangered. Of the nation's 4,000-plus plant species, 446 were threatened with extinction. Endangered species include the Mediterranean monk seal, the hawksbill turtle, Atlantic sturgeon, and the large copper butterfly.
  6. 6. ITALIA After its quick industrial growth, Italy took a long time to confront its environmental problems. After several improvements, it now ranks 84th in the world for ecological sustainability. National parks cover about five percent of the country. In the last decade, Italy has became one of the world's largest producers of renewable energy, ranking as the world’s fifth largest solar energy producer in 2009 and the sixth largest producer of wind power in 2008. However, air pollution remains a severe problem, especially in the industrialised north, reaching the tenth highest level worldwide of industrial carbon dioxide emissions in the 1990s. Italy is the twelfth largest carbon dioxide producer. Extensive traffic and congestion in the largest metropolitan areas continue to cause severe environmental and health issues, even if smog levels have decreased dramatically since the 1970s and 80s, and the presence of smog is becoming an increasingly rarer phenomenon and levels of sulphur dioxide are decreasing. Many watercourses and coastal stretches have also been contaminated by industrial and agricultural activity, while due to rising water levels Venice has been regularly flooded throughout recent years. Waste from industrial activity is not always disposed of by legal means and has led to permanent health effects on inhabitants of affected areas, as in the case of the Seveso disaster. The country has also operated several nuclear reactors between 1963 and 1990 but, after the Chernobyl disaster and a referendum on the issue the nuclear program was terminated, a decision that was overturned by the government in 2008. A deal was signed with France in 2009 for the construction of up to four new nuclear plants. Deforestation, illegal building developments and poor land management policies have led to significant erosion all over Italy's mountainous regions, leading to major ecological disasters like the 1963 Vajont Dam flood, the 1998 Sarno and 2009 Messina mudslides.
  7. 7. POLONIA Poland's environmental situation has improved since the ouster of its communist regime, which has been accompanied by decreased emphasis on heavy industry and increased government awareness of environmental issues. However, Poland has yet to recover from the overexploitation of forests during World War II and the loss of about 1.6 million hectares (4 million acres) of forestland after the war. As of the mid-1990s, 75% of Poland's forests have been damaged by airborne contaminants and acid rain. Pollution of the air, water, and land were the most significant environmental problem facing Poland in the 1990s. Air pollution results from hazardous concentrations of airborne dust and chemicals including carbon dioxide, nitrogen compounds, fluorine, formaldehyde, ammonia, lead, and cadmium. In 1992 Poland had the world's 12th highest level of industrial carbon dioxide emissions, which totaled 341.8 million metric tons, a per capita level of 8.9 metric tons. In 1996, the total rose to 356 million metric tons. Industry-related pollution affects particularly the Katowice region, where dust and sulfur dioxide emissions exceed acceptable levels. Water pollution in the Baltic Sea is 10 times higher than ocean water. Poland has 55 cu km of renewable water. Two percent is used to support farming and 64% is for industrial purposes. Poland's cities generate on average 5.7 million tons of solid waste per year. The nation's wildlife has also suffered from degeneration of its habitats. As of 2001, 9.1% of Poland's total land area was protected. Ten mammal species were endangered. Six bird species and one type of plant are also threatened with extinction. The cerambyx longicorn and rosalia longicorn are among the endangered species.
  8. 8. PORTUGALIA Air and water pollution are significant environmental problems especially in Portugal's urban centers. Industrial pollutants include nitrous oxide, sulfur dioxides, and carbon emissions. In 1996, industrial carbon dioxide emissions totaled 47.9 million metric tons. The nation's water supply, especially in coastal areas, is threatened by pollutants from the oil and cellulose industries. Portugal has 37 cubic kilometers of renewable water, of which 53% is used to support farming and 40% is for industrial activity. In total, the nation's cities produce an average of 2.6 million tons of solid waste. The nation's wildlife and agricultural activities are threatened by erosion and desertification of the land. The principal environmental agencies in Portugal include the Ministry of Quality of Life and the Office of the Secretary of State for the Environment. The nation's basic environmental legislation dates from 1976. In 2001, 13 of Portugal's mammal species and 7 of its bird species were endangered, as well as 186 plant species. Endangered species in Portugal include the Spanish Lynx, rosalia, Mediterranean monk seal, and Spanish imperial eagle. The São Miguel bullfinch and three species of turtle (green sea, hawksbill, and leatherback) were endangered in the Azores. The Mediterranean monk seal and four species of turtle (green sea, hawksbill, Kemp's ridley, and leatherback) were endangered in Madeira.
  9. 9. ROMANIA Rapid industrialization since World War II has caused widespread water and air pollution, particularly in Prahova County, an oil refining region. The nation has 49 cu km of renewable water sources, with about 59% used to support farming and 33% used for industrial purposes. Romania's cities produce on average 3.0 million tons of solid waste per year. Air pollution is heaviest in the nation's cities, where industry produces hazardous levels of sulphur dioxide. In 1992, Romania had the world's 28th highest level of industrial carbon dioxide emissions, which totaled 122.1 million metric tons, a per capita level of 5.24 metric tons. In 1996, the total dropped to 119 million metric tons. A high percentage (47% of the land area) of the country is covered with natural and semi-natural ecosystems. Since almost half of all forests in Romania (13% of the country) have been managed for watershed conservation rather than production, Romania has one of the largest areas of undisturbed forest in Europe. The integrity of Romanian forest ecosystems is indicated by the presence of the full range of European forest fauna, including 60% and 40% of all European brown bears and wolves, respectively. There are also almost 400 unique species of mammals (of which Carpathian chamois are best known), birds, reptiles and amphibians in Romania. The fauna consists of 33,792 species of animals, 33,085 invertebrate and 707 vertebrate. In Romania there have been identified 3,700 plant species from which to date 23 have been declared natural monuments, 74 missing, 39 are endangered, 171 vulnerable and 1,253 are considered rare. The three major vegetation areas in Romania are the alpine zone, the forest zone and the steppe zone. The vegetation is distributed in an storied manner in accordance with the characteristics of soil and climate and includes various species of oaks, sycamores, beechs, spruces, firs, willows, poplars, meadows, and pines. There are almost 10,000 km2 (3,900 sq mi) (almost 5% of the total area) of protected areas in Romania covering 13 national parks and three biosphere reserves: the Danube Delta, Retezat National Park, and Rodna National Park. The Danube Delta Reserve Biosphere is the largest and least damaged wetland complex in Europe, covering a total area of 5,800 km2 (2,200 sq mi). The significance of the biodiversity of the Danube Delta has been internationally recognised. It was declared a Biosphere Reserve in September 1990, a Ramsar site in May 1991, and over 50% of its area was placed on the World Heritage List in December 1991. Within its boundaries lies one of the most extensive reed bed systems in the world.