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Environmental problems in Guatemala

Pollution of the environment is a problem that has spread to all parts of our planet. But Guatemala, in addition to presenting levels of pollution that are really worrying, due to its geographical characteristics, is subjected to various human activities that, in combination with climate change, make it difficult to preserve the natural environment.

If you want to know some of the main environmental problems and risks in Guatemala , consult this AgroCorrn article on 10 environmental problems in Guatemala , where some strategies are also mentioned that establish recommendations to learn how to protect the environment in Guatemala.

You may also be interested in: Environmental problems in Chile
  1. Deforestation in Guatemala
  2. Soil erosion
  3. Water contamination
  4. Soil contamination
  5. Air pollution in Guatemala
  6. Scarcity of water resources
  7. Water erosion
  8. Deterioration of marine resources
  9. Illegal extraction and trade in wild flora and fauna
  10. Loss of biodiversity in Guatemala

Deforestation in Guatemala

Forests are very important in Guatemala. They make up more than a third of the territory and the population depends on its resources (firewood as the main energy source) and on the ecosystem services it provides (water regulation). Broadleaf and coniferous forests are the most affected. Among the causes of deforestation in Guatemala are: agricultural expansion, human settlements, extraction of wood and firewood, infrastructure development and illegal logging.

The Forest Incentives Program (PINFOR), the Guatemalan Protected Areas System (SIGAP) and the Incentives Program for small holders of forest vocation lands (PINPEP) are strategies to fight deforestation.

In these other posts we talk about the Causes of deforestation and also the Consequences of deforestation .

Soil erosion

The greatest soil erosion occurs on agricultural land. The plantation of African oil palm ( Elaeis guineensis ) has increased in Guatemala by 600% in the last ten years, replacing tropical forests and traditional grain crops. This implies the loss of habitats , their biodiversity (eg gorillas) and soil erosion, up to the loss of their fertility. Another major cause of the high rates of soil erosion in Guatemala is water erosion.

Water contamination

The main water pollution in Guatemala is by nutrients, which causes the proliferation of macroalgae. The contamination of rivers by solid waste (eg plastics) and liquids (eg oils and fuels) stands out, which end up flowing into the sea.

Here we talk more about the Causes and consequences of water pollution and pollution of rivers and lakes .

Soil contamination

One of the abiotic factors most affected by pollution in Guatemala is the soil. Lack of awareness is reflected in increased use of chemicals in agriculture and leachate from garbage dumps that contaminate soil and groundwater .

Learn more about Soil Pollution with this other AgroCorrn post.

Air pollution in Guatemala

In Guatemala there is a strong contamination by total suspended particles (PTS) and particulate matter (PM10). The main cause is the use of fossil fuels for automobiles and to generate heat and electricity. The behavior of pollutants is highly conditioned by the climate of the area.

It is important to know how pollution affects Guatemala . In this case, the quality of life of the population decreases, as well as the rest of the living beings in the area, with the appearance of respiratory deficiencies and pathologies.

To delve into the subject, we recommend reading these other articles on Why the air is polluted , Types of air pollution and Health problems due to air pollution .

Scarcity of water resources

In Guatemala, of the 22 departments that exist, 19 are susceptible to episodes of drought . Water scarcity is a problem that is worsening with climate change and that, currently, has been one more obstacle to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.

Here we talk more about What is drought, its causes and consequences and also What is water scarcity, its causes and consequences .

Water erosion

The aggressiveness of the rains, increasingly due to the effects of climate change, and the presence of bare soil, as a consequence of changes in land use (eg: deforestation), increase water erosion . Some of the consequences of water erosion in Guatemala are:

  • Greater soil degradation.
  • Increase in the loss of effective cultivation area.
  • Washing of nutrients from the soil.
  • Deterioration of buildings and infrastructures.

Deterioration of marine resources

The introduction of invasive alien species in Guatemala , such as lionfish ( Pterois volitans ) and tiger shrimp ( Panaeus monodon ), can alter the distribution patterns of native species and their relationships. Thus, the biogeochemical cycles can be modified and, with them, the quality of the rest of the resources of the marine environment. Overfishing is also a problem that affects the conservation of fish and crustaceans, mainly.

Furthermore, in Guatemala, part of the Mesoamerican Reef System (SAM) is located. The threats that degrade reefs are: unsustainable fishing practices, agricultural and urban runoff that carries pollutants and residues, climate change, tourism (increased waste) and deforestation.

Illegal extraction and trade in wild flora and fauna

The commercialization of species is one of the great environmental problems in Guatemala related to the conservation of biodiversity . Its lack of management and control is related to the low value given by society to biodiversity, its goods and services.

Of the wild fauna, birds, mammals and reptiles are the groups of species most affected; while, in flora, wood, bat, firewood or charcoal are the main object of extraction and illegal trade .

We encourage you to discover the Flora and fauna of Guatemala with this other post and to know these tips on How to avoid illegal trafficking of species .

Loss of biodiversity in Guatemala

We end this list of environmental problems in Guatemala by talking about the loss of Guatemalan biodiversity .

According to Dinerstein et al. (1995) the biodiversity that Guatemala presents in the Petén region and in the cloud forests is unique. However, their sensitivity to anthropic activities, such as deforestation and agricultural practices, pose a threat to their conservation.

According to the National Council of Protected Areas (CONAP), there are numerous species of animals threatened by illegal trafficking. Some are: the jaguar ( Panthera onca ) , the tapir ( Tapirus bairdii ) or the white turtle ( Dermatemys mawii ).

Here you can discover 15 animals in danger of extinction in Guatemala and here you can learn more about the serious problem of Loss of biodiversity .

If you want to read more articles similar to Environmental problems in Guatemala , we recommend that you enter our Pollution category .

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Hello, I am a blogger specialized in environmental, health and scientific dissemination issues in general. The best way to define myself as a blogger is by reading my texts, so I encourage you to do so. Above all, if you are interested in staying up to date and reflecting on these issues, both on a practical and informative level.

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