Nearly two-thirds of Chile’s population lives in the fertile region surrounding Santiago. This high concentration of people has led to severe environmental deterioration in this area. Many water systems are polluted with sewage, and urban air pollution is severe. An increase in automobile ownership in recent years prompted the government to establish a complex management plan with strict emission standards and a modernized public transport system.
Chile’s forests, especially temperate rain forests, are being harvested at a high rate, mostly in the south by foreign companies. The native trees are being replaced with extensive tree farms, so the total forest cover is actually increasing, although at the expense of natural biodiversity. Soil erosion is widespread, and desertification in some areas is significant.
Chile has an extensive protected area system made up of 30 national parks, 36 national reserves, and 10 natural monuments, but it excludes many important ecotypes, especially those of the central and northern regions. Overall, nearly 20 percent of the country was protected by the late 1990s.
Through its ratification of an agreement called the Western Hemisphere Convention, Chile pledged to protect its wildlife. The country also ratified the Antarctic-Environmental Protocol and the Antarctic Treaty, as well as treaties on biodiversity, climate change, endangered species, environmental modification, hazardous wastes, marine dumping, nuclear testing, plant protection, and ship pollution. Regionally, Chile has joined with its neighbors in signing the Convention for the Conservation and Management of Vicuña. "Chile" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia
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