Bolivia's second largest lake has all but disappeared entirely, underlining the urgency of conservation and carbon reductions to tackle climate change.
Bolivia's second largest lake has dried up with devastating impacts, proving that financial support from the European Union was not enough to save the high-altitude saltwater ecosystem of Bolivia's Lake Poopo prompting local authorities to declare a national disaster, local media reported Sunday. The governor of the Oruro province where the lake is located, Victor Hugo Vasquez, enacted a law to declare the situation a natural disaster.
The measure is aimed at speeding up the acquisition and use of funds to improve the disastrous situation, which affects the economy of the population in eight municipalities in the area.
South of La Paz at a height of over 12,000 feet in Bolivia's altiplano mountain region, the saltwater lake covered a surface area of over 750 square miles just two decades ago, but the government-declared "disaster zone" has reached crisis levels lakebed becomes as the increasingly parched.
Local media have reported that Lake Poopo, fed in part by Bolivia's largest lake Titicaca but increasingly under stress due to lengthy droughts, had been reduced to just three pools.
The shrivelling lake ecosystems has caused a mass die of millions of animals, according to research, and some 200 species of birds, mammals, fish, and other animals have disappeared from the area, including the endangered flamingo, Bolivia's La Razon reported.
The massive dry-up comes just years after Bolivia's Poopo Basin program received a US$15 million donation from the Europe Union in 2010 to support local conservation efforts.
According to former director of Bolivia's Department of Agriculture and Livestock Severo Choque, specific and adequate work on the lake "was not prioritized," even though various studies and agricultural and aquatic projects were undertaken with the funding, La Razon reported.
Researchers have pointed to climate change, including increasing frequency and intensity of the El Niño climatic phenomenon, as a key factor speeding up the lake's disappearance.
But local mining activity has also exacerbated the problem with contaminated sediment deposits building up in the lake.
Bolivia, among the developing countries hardest hit by climate change, has been on the front lines of demanding climate reparations that would see rich countries largely responsible for fueling climate change pay poorer countries to settle their historical carbon debts and help fund a global transition to clean energy.
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