ENVIRONMENT


Biodiversity

  • Venezuela is fortunate to enjoy significant biological diversity. Thanks to being located in four major bio-regions (the Caribbean, the Andes, the Guyana Plains and that the Amazon), Venezuela has become an area of extensive diversity, which is expressed in the distinct and beautiful landscapes of the country. This privileged geographical condition puts Venezuela among the top ten countries with the greatest biological diversity of the planet.

  • BeachAbout 650 types of vegetation exist in Venezuela, with some 15,000 species of plants.

  • There is a significant pharmacological potential in the humid forests of Venezuela through the existence of species with curative properties, many of which have formed part of the ancient culture of indigenous populations.

  • With respect to the wildlife, Venezuela has 1,360 species of birds (15% of the known total on the planet), 341 species of reptiles, 284 species of amphibians, 1,791 species of fish, 351 species of mammals and a high number of invertebrate species. New species are being continuously discovered.

  • There are also a significant number of species considered endemic to the country. An endemic species is a species that can only be found in a single geographical area of the world and cannot be found elsewhere. In Venezuela, reports of some 3,750 endemic species exist, mainly located in the Guyana area to the south of the country.

  • The biological diversity and its components are a treasure of immeasurable value, as much by their contribution to evolution as by the maintenance of life on the planet. Because of it, Venezuela has developed policies for their protection, conservation and sustainable use.

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Water Resources

  • The Venezuelan territory is configured by a vast, abundant hydrographic network, as much through superficial bodies of water (lakes and rivers) as subterranean.

  • The ten most important rivers of the country are the Orinoco, Caroní, Caura, Apure, Meta, Ventuari, Portuguesa, Santo Domingo, Uribante and Chama. The Orinoco River stands out because of its volume (37.384 m3/s) and length (2,140 km.). Along with its tributaries, this river is one of the lushest rivers in South America and the world.

  • The basin of the Orinoco River occupies four-fifths of the Venezuelan territory and 94.5% of the basin unloads its water into the Atlantic Ocean. The remainder corresponds to courses of water that drain essentially toward the Caribbean Sea and in minor quantity toward the Lake of Valencia.

  • The lakes of Valencia and Maracaibo, the Guri Dam, the Guárico and Camatagua, along with other dams and reservoirs, make up a large portion of the freshwater reservoirs of the country.

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Forest Resources

  • The arboreal vegetation (five meters high) of the country occupies approximately 54.2% of Venezuela’s territory.

  • 80% of the forests are located to the south of the Orinoco River.

  • The forests situated in the northern part of the country (where the majority of the population is concentrated), are subject to strong pressures by diverse causes.

  • The cutting down of trees is regulated in Venezuela. Cutting down trees on private land, public land and uncultivated land can only occur with government permission, while doing so in forest reserves and wooded lots occurs through Forest Management Plans granted through long-term concessions. Areas Under a Special Administration Regime (ABRAE) play an important role in conservation efforts and the sustainable management of forests. Within this, around 15 million hectares of forest have been set aside for Permanent Forest Production.

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Soil and Land

  • In Venezuela, the great variety of climates, terrain, geological diversity, vegetation and drainage makes it so that the country possesses a great variety of soil with a number of different uses.

  • According to the system of taxonomic classification of soils, Venezuela boasts 9 of the 12 types of soils that exist. The classification of these soils allows for their use for multiple purposes, such as agriculture, livestock, forest, recreation, urban development, highway construction, etc.

  • According to studies carried out for evaluation of the soils of the country, 44% of the lands in Venezuela have terrain as a main constraint; 32% have problems of fertility or nutrition for the cultivated plants; 18% have limitations of drainage; 4% limitations of water; and only 2% of the national territory possesses lands of good quality. With adequate management, these limitations can be overcome. The better lands can be found in the states of Barinas, Portuguesa, Yaracuy, Aragua, Carabobo, Cojedes, Lake of Maracaibo and Miranda.

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Environmental Policies

  • The 1999 Constitution represents a milestone for the protection of the environment in Venezuela, since it includes an entire chapter on the environment (Chapter 9). The chapter states that the protection of the environment in Venezuela is essential to the development of the country and emphasizes the importance of the rational utilization of resources with aim of guaranteeing the equilibrium of the country’s ecosystems. The constitution recognizes that the improvement in the quality of life of the Venezuelan people is impossible without a healthy and stable environment and that its protection is a responsibility shared by the government and the people.

  • Venezuela has ratified 14 international agreements and conventions with regard to the environment and has taken a number of steps to comply with those agreements.

  • The Ministry of People’s Power for the Environment is responsible for the planning, administration and allocation of natural resources and the promotion, defense and improvement of the environment in Venezuela. It is the ministry’s job to supervise the conservation of the country’s fauna, vegetation, water resources, soils and atmosphere.

  • The Venezuelan government promotes policies for the rational use of energy. In this sense, it has proposed increasing the use of the natural gas from 33% to more than 50% for 2012. Likewise, for 2008 they replaced around 68 million incandescent light bulbs with more environmentally friendly light bulbs. This initiative contributes to the national energy savings, reduces waste and works towards diminishing pollution.

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Natural Protected Areas

  • Venezuela has one of the most extensive systems of protected areas in Latin America and the world — 34% of Venezuela’s territory is dedicated exclusively to the conservation of its biological diversity.

  • The protected areas are exist within a legal structure known as Areas Under a Special Administrative Regimen (ABRAE), which are distinguished by different categories such as national parks, natural monuments, recreation parks, wildlife refuges, national hydraulic reserves, wildlife fauna reserves, rural areas of integrated development, biosphere reserves, areas of protection and environmental recovery, zones of agricultural exploitation, protective zones, forest reserves, reserve zones for the construction of reservoirs, public works protection areas, marine coasts of deep water, touristic interest zones, security zones, frontier security zone, and places of historical heritage.

  • In Venezuela, there are 43 national park and 36 natural monuments. The largest national park in the country and the fifth largest in the world is the Parima Tapirapecó National Park, which covers 39,000 square kilometers (15,000 square miles). Also, Venezuela maintains seven wildlife refuges (zones designated for the protection of wildlife, where hunting and the fishing are prohibited or strictly controlled), seven wildflower reserves (areas of land appointed for the conservation of the habitat of the wildflowers), two biosphere reserves and 79 parks of recreation.

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