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LATIN AMERICA / THE CARIBBEAN
Environmental Performance Index
Latinamerica Press
2/23/2016
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Region lags in protecting forests due to increased deforestation.

The US universities of Yale and Columbia released on Jan. 24 the Environmental Performance Index (EPI) that evaluates the environmental conditions in 180 countries, 30 from Latin America and the Caribbean.

“The Environmental Performance Index (EPI) ranks countries’ performance on high-priority environmental issues in two areas: protection of human health and protection of ecosystems. Within these two policy objectives the EPI scores national performance in nine issue areas comprised of more than 20 indicators. EPI indicators measure country proximity to meeting internationally established targets or, in the absence of agreed targets, how nations compare to one another,” the report explained

The nine categories are: health impacts, air quality, water and sanitation, water resources, agriculture, forests, fisheries, biodiversity and habitat, and climate and energy.

The report highlighted the poor performance of Latin American and Caribbean countries in relation to forest protection, noting that the annual rate of tropical forest loss has recently accelerated in many tropical countries including Paraguay.

“In the past decade, countries in South America’s Gran Chaco region have lost greater portions of national forest cover than their neighbor Brazil, a distinction often missed in rankings of gross forest loss. For instance, from 2000 to 2014, Paraguay lost a staggering 24.6 percent of its tree cover, more than anywhere else on Earth. Argentina lost 12.6 percent of its 2000 forest extent compared to 7.4 percent in Brazil,” said.

However, the report mentioned that Argentina and Paraguay have taken steps to stop the destruction.

“Argentina has achieved a 60 percent decrease in annual tree cover loss since 2011, due in part to enforcement of the Native Forests Law, which was passed in 2007 but only received funding a few years later. Paraguay has seen a 40 percent decrease in tree cover loss since 2012, aided by the nation’s extended Zero Deforestation Law and related conservation initiatives. Progress in reducing tree loss needs to be durable, however, to recover from this devastation,” pointed out the report.

The EPI revealed that the dominant driver of deforestation in Latin America is commercial agriculture, but subsistence agriculture is responsible for much of the destruction in the 2016 EPI’s bottom 25 countries, among which is Haiti.
—Latinamerica Press.

LATIN AMERICA/THE CARIBBEAN
Environmental Performance Index 2016
Country
Rank
Score*
Costa Rica
42
80.03
Argentina
43
79.84
Cuba
45
79.04
Brazil
46
78.9
Panama
51
78
Chile
52
77.67
Jamaica
54
77.02
Venezuela
56
76.23
Colombia
57
75.93
Dominican Republic
58
75.32
Trinidad and Tobago
62
74.34
Uruguay
65
73.98
Mexico
67
73.59
Belize
68
73.55
Dominica
70
73.25
Peru
73
72.95
Guyana
75
71.14
Bolivia
76
71.09
Paraguay
82
70.36
Honduras
88
69.64
Guatemala
89
69.64
Bahamas
93
69.34
Suriname
96
68.58
El Salvador
97
68.07
Ecuador
103
66.58
Nicaragua
115
64.19
Grenada
120
63.28
Antigua and Barbuda
122
62.55
Barbados
140
54.96
Haiti
169
43.28

*The score is calculated from 0 to 100, where 100 is the best performance.

Sources:
- Yale Center for Environmental Law and Policy, Yale University
- Center for International Earth Science Information Network, Columbia University


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