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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