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Environmental issues in Kyrgyzstan

Although Kyrgyzstan is not a centre of heavy industry, its environment suffers the results of decades of serious ecological mismanagement. Air pollution represents a major problem in the cities of Kyrgyzstan, due to rapid increase of traffic. Water pollution is also a significant issue, especially in the south, where water-borne diseases are prevalent. In agricultural areas, excessive irrigation and unrestrained use of agricultural chemicals have severely degraded soil quality. Livestock overgrazing has contributed to soil degradation, and a significant portion of Kyrgyzstan’s grassland has disappeared. Kyrgyzstan has many uranium and gold mines, which are a threat to the environment, due to releasing toxic substances into the soil.

About 80% of energy is received from hydro power. In addition to this, Kyrgyzstan also imports 67 billion cubic feet of natural gas per year, mainly from Uzbekistan. Kyrgyzstan's electricity distribution grid is in need of rehabilitation. Up to 180 million US dollars might be required for upgrading the grid. As a result of years of negligence, there are substantial losses of electric power of up to 25%, during the transmission through the grid.

Natural gas accounts for up to 30% of Kyrgyzstan's total energy consumption. The state has estimated oil reserves at 12 million tonnes and natural gas reserves of about 6.5 billion cubic meters, however those are difficult to exploit. At present, Kyrgyzstan does not have the infrastructure to support increased natural gas operations nor the capital to exploit its reserves.

Kyrgyzstan however, has an outstanding potential for using alternative energy sources: solar energy source is estimated to provide 4.64 billion MW h, or 23.4 kWh/km2; wind energy up to 2 billion MW h; geothermal energy - 613 GJ per year out of which only 27% are feasible for development. In addition, biomass processing resources (livestock waste) comprise 1.6 billion m3 of methane, capacity of small water flows equals to 1.6 million kW, or 5-6 million kWh in terms of production output.

A to improve the environment. The government put 3.1 percent of the country’s land area under the state protection and has ratified international environmental agreements pertaining to biodiversity, desertification, and hazardous wastes.

Climate change:
The climate in Kyrgyzstan varies from semi humid to semi arid and mountains rise at north from 800 to almost 5000m. Since the 1950s there is significant rise of average annual temperatures in this region, and it got even more apparent for the last 3 decades, and in winter period. Compared to the global annual temperature increase, the rise in this region is up to 3 times higher. The significant threat to Kyrgyzstan region is glacier melting, which is the most obvious consequence of global climate trend here. The melting significantly increased after 1970s.

Another danger represents the glacial lake increase, due to constant melting of permafrost and glaciers. This poses a threat from mud flow, floods and landslides and on the other hand, global warming in other regions of the country causes draughts and therefore, lack of water for the population.

Artikkelen ble sist oppdatert: 07.10.2009