Environmental issues in Latvia

Latvia is an Eastern European country that is known for its eventful history and diverse landscapes. This tiny nation along the Baltic Sea also faces some unique environmental challenges. Even though the country has often been lauded for its conservation efforts throughout its history, certain factors have contributed to Latvia’s natural environmental problems over the course of the last century.

Many of the country’s environmental problems can be traced back to the days when Latvia was part of the Soviet Union. Soviet leaders were interested in building factories and plants that specialized in heavy industry. Many of these radical developments occurred following the days of World War II. The factories and plants that were built generated high levels of pollution in Latvia’s air and water sources. The Soviet Union’s poor management of economic policies exacerbated these problems. To this day, many of Latvia’s industrial centers still operate under the former Soviet policies.

High levels of pollutants are still found in many of the country’s main water sources. The Gulf of Riga contains particularly high levels of pollutants due in part to the capital city of Riga’s poor sewage system. The water found in the Daugava River is also largely contaminated. Petroleum and other harmful chemicals used at many of the local military bases add to these problems.

The emission of sulfur dioxide, formaldehyde and other harmful chemicals continue to wreak havoc upon Latvia’s air quality. Acid rain, which often kills trees and other types of vegetation, often falls in the country due to the pollutants found in the air. Many of the old industrial centers are unable to afford installing technologies that are designed to control emission levels.

The nation has made some efforts to protect the environment. Several national parks and other protected areas have been established in certain parts of the country. Latvia has also established seven protected marine areas. Environmental policies have also been ratified to help the country’s natural environment.

In spite of Latvia’s environmental woes, there is still hope that the nation can overcome these challenges. Latvia’s environment will likely continue to improve as the country progresses through the future and distances itself from its antiquated Soviet policies.

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