» Syria & Environmental Issues

Environment problems in Syria

Dr. Ghassan Shahin

Environmental Background :

Syria’s population expansion rate of 3.6% is placing increasing pressure on the country’s resources . In addition to that industrial and agricultural sector activities are effecting a large number of components of the environment including water , land resources and air . In turn these effects all have a negative bearing on the economic and social well being of the population as a whole .

Pressures on the Environment :

human settlements in Syria have always been concentrated on the fertile valleys along the banks of rivers , however , increasing demands for natural resources has exceeded the sustainable capacity of these areas , while waste from human settlements and industrial sites have further harmed the environment , the pressures that have given rise to severe environmental problems include :

– Intensive cultivation especially the increase in irrigated crops which now accounts for (85-90%) of fresh water consumption .
–  Increasing urbanization which led to crowded urban sprawl and a decline in the living conditions .
– Increasing pressure on the biological resources .
– Increasing industrialization with subsequent energy demand , and excessive polluting waste .
– Increase in demand for domestic potable water (growing at 4.2% /year) .
–  Over hunting , Overgrazing , Over fishing .

Priority Problems:

 Contamination , depletion and dissipation of water resources .
 Poor air quality and air pollution (industrial and urban) .
 Deterioration of urban environment and uncontrolled urban expansion .
 The growth of illegal settlements .
 Poverty and population growth .
 Inappropriate solid waste disposal (domestic , industrial “ hazardous & toxic” ) and waste water pollution .
 Degradation of biodiversity and habitat deterioration and poor use of biological resources .
 Soil , land and rangeland deterioration & degradation (soil salinization , land contamination and erosion ).
 Deforestation and desertification
 Lack of public awareness of environmental issues .
 Lack of industrial zones .
 Food contamination , food diseases & epidemiologies , food security , environment security .
 Coastal degradation .
 Excessive use of agro-chemicals and pesticides .
 The wrongful hunting .
 Cultural heritage degradation (archaeological and historical sites)