Uncontrolled industrial and mining discharges pollute Peru's water resources and coastal areas; rural cultivation of coca destroys its forests. Peru is endowed with South America's widest range of resources but has a weak environmental protection framework. Efforts at regulation are uncoordinated, typified by scattered and conflicting legislation, widespread noncompliance, and poor enforcement.
The government promulgates the country's first Environment and Natural Resource Code. The Code sets forth an outline for an effective national environmental policy, but fails to set up an authority or financial mechanisms for its applications. In the meantime, the opening of the Peruvian market to imported, used vehicles brings a surge in automobile use and, concurrently, automobile emissions.
Congress approves a law creating the National Environmental Council (CONAM), Peru's first environmental authority at the central level. CONAM has a host of responsibilities, from formulation, coordination, and evaluation of national environmental policy to initiation of civil and/or criminal action against polluters. Environmental legislation, still in the development stages, is weakly enforced.
Peru suffers from a particularly severe El Niño effect, the annual warming of sea temperatures of its coast. El Niño brings a combination of droughts and floods, cripples the fishing industry, and wreaks havoc on storm-vulnerable crops. Storms and mudslides also cause environmental damage and sanitation challenges.
The government and private sector begin to cooperate on environmental protection in the tourism sector. Laws governing the timber industry are overhauled, with conditions placed on logging and exports. A 5,000-square-mile stretch of rainforest is transformed into a national park. An environmental movement protests plans for mineral extraction after gold deposits are discovered in the Northwest.
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