Ecological nightmare

Published: Thursday 31 July 1997

severe water shortage, depleting forest cover and growing air pollution are threatening to cause more damage to EL Salvador than the insurgency in the 1980s. Air pollution is taking a toll of the nation's health with a large number of children dying of respiratory diseases. The country now ranks second to Haiti as the most deforested region in the western hemisphere.

"Our groundwater is running out, our surface water is increasingly pollu-ted, and we have less than two per cent of our forest cover left. We will have to take radical measures if we want EL Salvador to live," says Ricardo Navarro, director of the Salvadoran Center for Appropriate Technology, a prominent ecology group.

The tropical forest cover has been reduced to 1.5 per cent of the original. Coffee trees cover seven per cent more of land but even these are disappearing at an alarming rate. High population density is a leading cause of the present crisis.EL Salvador is the most densely populated country in the hemisphere with about 413 people per square mile.

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