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Executive summary

Background and scope
Project area
Climate and hydrological features
Water use
Water pollution
Fishery development
Relief and erosion
Agricultural development
Tourism development
Mining and industrial development
Socioeconomic environment
Legal framework and institutional management
Proposed approach to environmental management
Preparation of the environmental assessment

Background and scope

Between October 1989 and June 1993 the Governments of Bolivia and Peru, working through the Joint Subcommittee for the Development of the Lake Titicaca Integration Zone (SUBCOMILAGO), drew up the Binational Master Plan for Integral Development of the Lake Titicaca, Desaguadero River, Poopó, Coipasa Salt Marsh System (TDPS System). In December 1992 the Governments of Bolivia and Peru created the Autonomous Binational TDPS System Authority for the TDPS, which began operating through an Ad Hoc Transition Committee in July 1993.

In November 1993 the two governments presented a request for cooperation in implementing an Environmental Management Project covering the TDPS System to the General Secretariat of the Organization of American States (GS/OAS), which responded affirmatively in March 1994. In October 1994 the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) signed an agreement with the GS/OAS in which it committed itself to providing part of the funds necessary to implement the project. Finally, in December of that year, an agreement for cooperation was signed in Washington, D.C. between the Governments of Bolivia and Peru and the GS/OAS approving the document that sets out the project's specific objectives and activities. As a first step, the parties decided on the preparation of an environmental assessment that would serve as the basis for the formulation of the Project.

The Committee took part in the preparation of the environmental assessment with the cooperation of GS/OAS and the support of UNEP. The result of this work is being delivered to the Governments of Peru and Bolivia and is designed to facilitate the execution of the Project.

The pressure exerted by the population on the natural resources of this area of the altiplano has led to an extremely serious degradation of its various ecosystems, as can be seen in the environmental assessment. This means that concrete measures to conserve resources, improve the living standard of the inhabitants, and facilitate the implementation of the various water engineering works envisaged in the Master Plan Director must be taken without delay.

The economic conditions and debt burden of the two countries make it likely that there will be increased pressure on for production the area's ecosystems and natural resources in the immediate future. This pressure must not be allowed to turn mitigation of environmental damage into a secondary concern, for that damage lies at the heart of the problem.

The TDPS region is characterized by overlapping cultural and economic systems in which a vast agrarian subsistence economy exists side by side with agricultural sectors directed at regional and national markets and with a mining industry looking abroad. The impact on natural resources has varied, but in every case their consumption and depletion are not included in the costs of production. The ancestral values based on respect for "Mother Earth" have largely died out, and nature is perceived as an inexhaustible fount of resources and a waste dump. The widespread poverty and low levels of education prevent the population from developing an awareness of the limits on their resources, and only in the wake of major natural catastrophes such as droughts and floods have some sectors of the society begun to think about the cause-and-effect relationship between the use and management of natural resources and those catastrophes.

A change in behavior toward the natural environment, especially on the part of those sectors causing it the most harm (mining, mining-based industry, urban concentration) requires a change in attitude based on an understanding of, and respect for, the region's physical and biological processes, its natural and cultural-anthropological values, and the right of its indigenous peoples to emerge from poverty by receiving a growing share of the return on the development of its resources. This change in outlook requires more effective action by the state, with a comprehensive policy including the creation and enforcement of legal, institutional and fiscal mechanisms and economic incentives and resources designed to further sustainable development in the region. Real participation by the local communities in administering the areas within their jurisdiction is also needed.

The present environmental assessment is an important step toward those ends.

Project area

The TDPS System is an endorheic basin situated in the Andes from about 14° to 20° south latitude, between Bolivia and Peru, at an elevation of more than 3,600 meters above sea level. It covers an area of 143,900 km2, equivalent to 75% of the territory of Uruguay. It consists of the hydrographic basins of Lake Titicaca, which occupies 39% of the area, and of the Desaguadero River, which together with Lake Poopó covers 38%, and the Coipasa Salt Marsh basin, which accounts for the rest. The area encompasses mainly the Subregion of Puno, which belongs to Peru and covers approximately 35% of the region, and the Bolivian departments of La Paz and Oruro. Lake Titicaca, at its normal elevation of 3,810 m above sea level covers 8,400 km2 and has a volume of 932 million m3, performs a regulating function. The Desaguadero River links this natural reservoir to lakes Uru Uru and Poopó. The average surface area of those lakes, at 3,686 meters above sea level, is 3,191 km2. Only in very wet years is Lake Poopó connected by the Laca Jahuira River with the Coipasa Salt Marsh, which lies 3,657 m.

The high plateau, or altiplano, of the system is enclosed by the Andes range, which branches in southern Peru into the Western and Eastern, or Real, cordilleras. The latter separates the TDPS from the Amazon basins to the northeast and the River Plate to the southeast. The altiplano is made up of a series of plains, highlands, and isolated hills. The highest peak is Mount Sajama, at 6,542 meters above sea level, and the lowest point is where the bottom of Lake Titicaca measures 3,533 meters above sea level.

Climate and hydrological features

Annual rainfall in the TDPS System ranges from 200 mm in the southern zone to 1,400 mm in the north, and is highest on Lake Titicaca. The seasonal distribution of the rain is similar throughout the region - typically monomodal, with a rainy season from December to March and a dry period from May to August. Annual rainfall fluctuates more than 50% from the mean. Mean annual temperatures on the region's altiplano range from 8 to 10°C, the highest occurring from December to March. The minimum mean monthly temperatures range from -7°C in the north to -10°C in the south. Winds are predominantly calm, although velocities of up to 4 and 5 m/s have been recorded in the Lake Titicaca zone and the eastern area, respectively. Evaporation is very high, reaching annual means of 1,450 mm near and at Lake Titicaca and 1,900 along the south of the TDPS system. The evapotranspiration potential vanes from 1,000 to 1,500 mm over the region, with the highest values occurring from November to March and the lowest from May to August. According to the Thornthwaite climate classification, a little over half the region, particularly the northern (including the upper basin of the Desaguadero River) and eastern sectors, is characterized by rainy or semi-rainy and cold climates, and the rest has a semi-arid cold climate.

The TDPS System consists mainly of the hydrographic network of the Lake Titicaca basin in the north, which for the purposes of this study was divided into six hydrological zones, and the zones of the basins of the upper and middle Desaguadero, the Mauri, Lake Poopó, and the Coipasa Salt Marsh in the south. The total annual inflow from the tributaries into Lake Titicaca is 201 m3/s. Adding 270 m3/s mainly from precipitation on the lake and subtracting evaporation estimated at 436 m3/s, without taking other losses into account, leaves a mean annual surplus of 35 m3/s to be evacuated by the Desaguadero River, which receives several tributaries during its course and has a mean annual flow of 89 m3/s before bifurcating to empty into Lake Poopó.

The largest aquifers are located in the middle and lower basins of Lake Titicaca's principal tributaries and in a belt that extends along the Eastern Range from Lake Titicaca to Oruro. Other aquifers, smaller or brackish, are located on the upper course of the Desaguadero and in the areas surrounding Lake Poopó and the Coipasa Salt Marsh. The total flow rising from the subsoil to the surface does not exceed 3 m3/s. The quality of the water depends in large part on the amount of rain.

Droughts and floods are the natural hazards that have had the greatest environmental, social and economic impacts on the TDPS region. Historical records exist for at least twelve major droughts and ten floods. During the 1980s there were very severe droughts in 1982-83 and 1988-89, and in 1986-87 the greatest flood of this century. The droughts of the last decade caused economic losses estimated at US$216.5 million, while the great flood inundated 46,000 hectares on the shores of Lake Titicaca and caused losses totaling US$125 million throughout the System. In all, losses from these disasters came to about US$341.5 million.

Both the droughts and the floods are linked to the natural rainfall and water-flow patterns, but to a considerable extent they are due to imbalances caused by the diminished regulating capacity of the basins resulting from bad land use and the inappropriate location of productive activities and infrastructure.

Water use

The overall demand for water throughout the System amounts to 125m3/s, of which 2 goes for domestic consuption, 19 for planned transfers to other basins, 103 for present and future irrigation projects, and 1 for other uses, including mines, industry, and watering places for livestock. The total demand planned for the Lake Titicaca basin is 95 m3/s, and for the Desaguadero basin 30 m3/s. These estimates include the future projects contained in the Master Binational Plan.

As the maximum usable flow in the Titicaca basin is only 20 to 25 m3/s, this demand will have to be rethought and the transfer and irrigation projects will have to be selected and given priority on the basis of environmental criteria as well as social, economic, and hydrological ones. The fact is that, although the flow brought to the lake by its tributaries is estimated at 201 m3/s, it cannot be used because most of it is used to maintain the lake itself. This means that the principal limit on the exploitation of the water resources will not be lack of water in the basins but the restrictions imposed by the levels of Lake Titicaca and concern for the lake's survival. Hence the TDPS's main international problems involve the use of water resources. The great pressure on these resources in both Peru and Bolivia requires a technically viable and equitable distribution of water from the TDPS System between the two countries, that will ensure levels of operation in Lake Titicaca that are acceptable both environmentally and from the standpoint of water use. Likewise, although at present this is a problem restricted to the bay of Puno, future agricultural, mining, and industrial development of the Titicaca basin requires pollution control mechanisms designed to prevent general deterioration of the reservoir, which would affect the uses of water from the Desaguadero River.

Flows in the Desaguadero River basin are apparently sufficient for the demand, though their great irregularity and the water salinity problems threatening the Soledad Laguna and lakes Uru Uru and Poopó require the construction of regulating works on some tributaries and, as with Lake Titicaca, selectivity and the setting of priorities with respect to the development projects, especially those on irrigation, which account for 87% of the demand. An annual mean flow of at least 47 m3/s and the construction of adequate distribution channels are needed to ensure sustainable use of this lake system.

Inventories made thus far have identified 822 groundwater taps throughout the system. Half of these involve shallow wells, no more than 10 m deep. The largest volumes of groundwater are drawn from deep wells of less than 110 m, particularly in the towns of El Alto and Oruro. This accounting also includes springs and a few hot springs. Current extraction of ground water is estimated at 977 l/s, 94% of which is for domestic consumption.

Water pollution

Pollution of the TDPS System's water resources is not yet a widespread problem. However, some problems are making themselves felt locally to a degree that calls for control and recovery measures. These are:

· Organic and bacteriological contamination caused by waste waters from Puno, in the inner bay of Puno (Lake Titicaca), from Oruro in Lake Uru Uru, from Juliaca in the Coata River, and from El Alto (partial) in the Seco River. The Coata and the Seco are tributaries of the Titicaca. The most serious problem is found in the interior bay of Puno, where a eutrophication problem is worsening.

· Physical and chemical pollution of lakes Poopó and Uru Uru and the lower course of the Desaguadero River by heavy metals generated by mining and the smelting plants around Oruro. Cadmium, lead, mercury, nickel, cobalt, chrome, and arsenic are found in concentrations exceeding the permissible limits for human consumption in lakes Poopó and Uru Uru. Tin is present throughout the basin's hydric system in equally high concentrations. High concentrations of heavy metals have also been measured in the sediments of the Coata River, which indicates that mining also causes pollution in this basin.

At the same time, natural conditions in the TDPS System produce high levels of salinity in some bodies of water. In the Desaguadero River downstream from La Joya and in some of its tributaries the salinity can exceed 2 g/l. Upstream from La Joya to its source, salinity ranges from 1 to 2 g/l. Lake Poopó, because it is the final recipient of the waters of the Desaguadero and other rivers that drain saline land in the southern portion of the basin, can have saline concentrations of more than 100 g/l. Lake Titicaca, in sharp contrast, boasts waters of good quality, with salinity levels below 1 g/l. The salinity of groundwater varies in both the Titicaca and Desaguadero basins.

Fishery development

The TDPS System contains considerable fishery resources spread throughout its various bodies of water, but the major concentrations occur in lakes Titicaca and Poopó. The fish biomass of Lake Titicaca has been estimated at some 91,000 tons, while the extraction has fluctuated about 4,600 and 7,500 t. Exploitation has been carried out by some 8,300 professional, subsistence, and part-time fishermen using more than 3,000 boats, a large majority of them based on the Peruvian side. According to the most recent (1993) statistics, the most commonly caught species in the Peruvian sector of Lake Titicaca is the karache (53.6%), followed by the silversides (pejerrey) (34.96%) and the ispi (11.2%). Other native species (maurí and boga) account for less than 0.2% and trout less than 0.1 %. In the Bolivian sector of Lake Titicaca the percentages must be similar, although in Lake Poopó the leading catch is the silversides.

Fishing on Lake Titicaca is basically inshore. Fish are thought to be there plentiful farther out, but before fishing can be encouraged adequate knowledge of the potential in both zones must be developed. Peruvian and Bolivian fishery development policies for Lake Titicaca must furthermore be harmonized to prevent one country's efforts from undermining the other's.

The native species karache, ispi, mauri and boga were the traditional catch in the region. Trout and silversides became commercially important following their introduction in 1942 and 1955, respectively. The silversides has been displacing the trout to the point where the latter is seldom caught anymore. However, it seems that the considerable decline in the catch of native species that was observed in the late 1980s is now reversing. Given this situation, the programs to replenish the native species (1,972,000 fry released in 1993-94) are deemed inadequate to the size of the lake and the pressure of fishing activity. Aquaculture research programs on which to base intensified fishery development in Lake Titicaca must be spurred.

The silversides has become predominant in Lake Poopó. However, recent studies have revealed high levels of heavy metals in silversides caught there, which points to the need for research aimed at taking corrective action. Food chain pollution is a consequence of the high concentrations of toxic metals detected in the waters of the lake.

Relief and erosion

The geology of the TDPS System has been determined by tectonic movements throughout all the orogenic cycles. The altiplano in particular has undergone structural evolution into very recent times, and upheavals and volcanic activity still continue. In the Quaternary its evolution has been linked basically to climate change. The alternation of humid and dry, and hot and glacial periods has created successively larger and smaller lakes than those of today. During the upper Pleistocene several glacial phases steadily reduced the surface area of lakes in the northern part of the altiplano whose elevation at the start of the Pleistocene was about 200 m higher than at present, with water covering of more than 50,000 km2 as against approximately 8,000 today.

At the present time the following geomorphological units can be identified:

· A third of the area of the TDPS System is occupied by mountains. More than half of this consists of rounded mountains with a volcanic substratum. With the addition of colluvial deposits of foothills, moraine accumulations, and alluvial ranges, mountains occupy 39% of the system.

· Another third of the region is occupied by the typical altiplano features: fluviolacustrine plain, depressions, fluviolacustrine terrace, and smaller features. Of particular importance are the marshes, which consist of depressions harboring a characteristic vegetation of great ecological significance.

· Hills and mesetas, which for practical purposes form a single group, cover around one fifth of the region.

· Slightly less than a tenth of the region is covered by water.

Human-caused erosion from millennia of farming, forestry, and grazing practices have left almost the entire region largely and even wholly stripped of natural vegetation. To this are added the consequences of mining. At this juncture it is very difficult to separate erosion of human origin from that caused by rain, drought, and wind. Studies indicate that 66% of the region suffers from slight to moderate erosion. Twenty-eight percent of the land is considered affected by severe erosion associated with the geomorphological units formed by degraded volcanic terraces and mesetas, hills, and dissected mountains. In the middle Desaguadero basin and small parts of other basins that constitute slightly over 2% of the TDPS system, gullies and other signs of very severe erosion are evident. Signs of wind erosion have been detected across an area of 4,800 km2 of the Poopó-Salares basin.

Both the rivers and the depressions and lagoons contain deposits of sediment that reflect the various erosion processes described above. Solid-flow measurements taken in the period 1965-1989 for the Desaguadero basin and 1960-1990 for the tributaries of Lake Titicaca yield maximum mean solid-transport values of 6 million and 606,000 tons a year, respectively.


A third of the TDPS System, not counting the water surfaces, consists of arable land of classes II to IV according to the US Conservation Service. Most of it, i.e., 21.6% of the System's land, is class IV land occupying the geomorphological units of the terrace and preserved volcanic meseta and some saline depressions, including marshes, in the south. Because of their altitude and low temperatures, most of the soils are deficient in organic material and nitrogen and therefore require special measures to maintain and increase their productivity. A little over a fifth of the land is non-arable, with Class V soils predominating slightly over Class VI. In this part, terracing systems dating back to pre-Columbian civilizations survive on the hillsides. These lands include eolian accumulations, slope deposits, marshes in the middle and upper basins, and the dissected volcanic meseta. Abundant stones created by glacial activity limit their use to controlled forestry and grazing of camelides or sheep, especially in the marshes. Finally, about half the region's land area consists of marginal and nonarable lands, classes VII and VIII. The possible uses of the Class VII soils should be limited to their restoration and to extensive grazing. The rest, which include rock outcroppings, salt flats, and snowy peaks, are suitable only for the protection of water resources, recreational use within national parks or conservation areas, or mining in the case of the salt marshes.

Comparing the potential with the actual use of the soils shows that at least a third of TDPS lands are being overused. This overuse occurs especially on marginal land and land suited neither to annual, continuing cultivation nor to controlled sylvipastoral uses.

The loss of farmland is due mainly to erosion and salinization. It has been estimated that 30% of the soils show severe and very severe erosion resulting from present and past farming and grazing activities and hastened by the System's geological conditions. In fact, the most serious problems have developed on gently and steeply sloping hilly land, terraces and mesetas. In some specific situations erosion may be related more to natural geological evolution than to land use.

With respect to salinization, 3,449 km2, or 2.4%, of the region's land have been classified as saline. These lands are located chiefly around the Coipasa Salt Marsh and Lake Poopó, and their high salinity is due basically to flooding of the Desaguadero, the Lauca, and other rivers of the southern part of the altiplano. Consequently, the salinity of the water must be kept very much in mind in the development of irrigation projects to prevent saline land areas from increasing.

Agricultural development

The main areas of cultivation are on the level ground and gentle hills bordering Lake Titicaca. Other, less extensive farmlands are found in the Poopó-Salares, upper Desaguadero River, Ramis, and Huancané basins. By and large, these are the most densely populated rural areas, characterized by highly fragmented terrain with many parcels of land of uneconomic size, high levels of poverty and low yields, attributable primarily to rudimentary farming technology. Nevertheless, it is the output of these areas that is intended in large part for national consumption (Lima-Callao, Arequipa, and other centers outside the region). The main crop throughout the altiplano is potatoes, followed by feed crops, quinoa, barley, and oca.

The low use of fertilizer and agrochemicals in general, especially in minifundio and other depressed areas of the region, produces low yields that decrease over time, since soil needs at least to have the nutrients consumed by crops restored to it. The use of guano and organic fertilizers in general must be not only maintained but increased, as must crop rotation practices. On the other hand, intensive and widespread use of fertilizers and toxic chemicals give rise to future pollution of bodies of water, especially Lake Titicaca. It is therefore necessary that the projects for intensive agricultural development be carefully selected and planned and that they go hand in hand with adequate regulations on the use of toxics.

Unlike crop farming, stockraising is more highly developed in the Peruvian sector. The main species are cattle, sheep, alpacas, llamas, pigs, and poultry. There are commercial livestock operations run by medium-sized and large producers, as well as communal operations of various kinds and a large number of small independent producers. Grazing areas are located mainly in the Ramis, Ilave, Poopó-Salares, upper Desaguadero, and Titicaca basins, on flat and hilly tracts. The pastures are generally communal and grazing is supervised by herders who move with their herds; population density is therefore low, with houses grouped in small clusters. Most of the production of these areas, too, is exported to the regional and national market. Grazing is extensive and unmanaged, so that the grasslands are becoming steadily less productive. Cattle grazing in particular leads to soil compaction and the destruction of pastures. Since there is little or no use of polluting anabolics and toxic products, the meat is of good quality. In addition, livestock grown in such cold climates generally contract few infectious diseases. Camelide meat, especially that of alpacas and llamas, is known for its low fat content.

Conditions in the mixed farming (crop and pasture) and agrosylvopastoral (crops, pasture, and shrubs) areas are more restrictive, from the standpoints of both soil (topography, stoniness, rock outcropping, erosion, salinity) and climate (lower temperatures and precipitation, more frequent frost). The basins with the most land devoted to these uses are the Poopó-Salares, middle Desaguadero, Titicaca, upper Desaguadero and Ramis. Population density can be high in some places, though less so man in the agricultural areas. Both grazing and crop farming in these areas is generally carried out under marginal conditions, and most of the production is for subsistence. For these same reasons of ecological marginality, these areas also suffer the most severe degradation of basic natural resources.


The ecosystem of the basin is that of the puna, a formation of stiff grasses and leathery-leaved scrub, with stands of queñoa and other trees in sheltered locations. The features and flora of the puna change with the climate, however, turning bleaker and sparser as the climate becomes drier and colder. Distinction between the humid puna in the north and the and puna in the south. At elevations over 4,400 m, the grass and shrub formations become increasingly open and specialized and finally give way to sandy expanses that border areas of perpetual snow. The most typical fauna of these ecosystems are the condor and the flamingo, among the birds; the llama, the alpaca, the vicuña, and the guanaco, among the camellias; and the world's largest known frog. A wide variety of other species of birds, mammals, and other groups are also present, some of them in danger of extinction. Within this general system the special conditions created by Lake Titicaca and other lakes of the altiplano have given rise to a unique aquatic vegetation, among which the reed banks are particularly important both ecologically and economically. The lakes provide habitats for a great variety of aquatic birds, many of them migratory, and some native fishes that still retain a certain commercial importance.

Practically the entire altiplano is a single natural grassland, varying in aspect according to climate and soil. It is richest in forage in the marshy areas, which yield close to 2,500 kg of dry matter (dm) per hectare and year. The productivity of meadows where grasses predominate ranges from 1,000 to 1,600 kg, although on some types of scrubland that figure drops to between 130 and 210 kg. The productivity of scrubby or grass-and-shrub meadows is also very low: some 150 to 210 kg dm/ha. Consequently, the animal-carrying capacity varies greatly on the altiplano.

The load per hectare on the grasslands, especially of sheep and cattle, is excessive. It leads to waste of energy and a gradual degeneration of the grasslands, as evidenced by a diminishment of biomass and of natural carrying capacity. The result is underweight, undersize, animals and low output of meat and milk.

To this are added the use of scrub (tola) for firewood, burns intended to promote new growth to improve the palatability of the grasses and shrub s, and the introduction of exotic forage species, all of which contribute to the progressive degradation of the altiplano's natural grasslands.

Furthermore, the burning of scrub and its use for fuelwood, and the cutting of queñoa stands for fuelwood and construction, have led to marked degradation of the region's woody plant cover. This is evident especially in the increasingly bare tolares or stands of scrub (21% of tolares are bare) and in the reduced area covered by pure woody formations in the region (4,249 km2, of which tolares account for 3,272 and woods only 977).

Within the general context of the degradation of the TDPS system's plant and soil resources, mere are certain areas whose loss would have significant environmental implications. These are:

· Marshes or humid depressions of the intramontane valleys, characterized by a rich flora and fauna and of great importance for the maintenance of the alpaca and vicuña populations. These wetlands also regulate river flows. Draining them for farming purposes or to provide water would seriously unbalance the region's biological and hydric system.

· Areas of aquatic vegetation, especially reed banks, whose total area shrank from 59,132 ha in 1970 to 40,056 in 1992 as a result of overexploitation, especially in the Peruvian sector of Lake Titicaca. These areas are very important for fish reproduction and feeding and for nest-building by birds, and as a source of fodder for domestic animals and raw material for local handicrafts.

· Areas with remnants of Andean pre-Columbian techniques for working the land (platforms, waru warus, cochas) that have not been fully identified and are mistakenly used to "further" agricultural development, thus destroying the possibility of recovering and updating these ancestral technologies and of learning their true productive potential.

· Areas with archeological ruins that are not being property protected and maintained (Ayaviri, Laraqueri, the northern and western zones of the TDPS System), and are being used for purposes other than cultural and tourism development.

The loss of biodiversity and genetic resources has been evident for some time. This must be addressed through an environmental management program. It is rooted in the following causes:

· Deforestation and burning of vegetation, very common in the region, both in the past and in the present.

· The introduction of new species, such as cattle and sheep on the grasslands and trout and silversides in the lakes, into the territory of the TDPS System.

· Uncontrolled hunting and fishing.

· Uncontrolled use of native flora and fauna throughout the altiplano.

As a result of these practices, many formerly abundant species of Andean flora are now hard to find. At least five species of fauna are endangered and twelve are threatened. Especially important are the fish species native to Lake Titicaca, whose numbers are shrinking fast because of Uncontrolled fishing.

There are six protected areas in the TDPS System, one in the Peruvian and five in the Bolivian sector, with a preliminary total of 92,154 ha (0.6% of the System). However, neither Peru nor Bolivia has proper mechanisms to ensure their protection. Three are not protected under any law, none has a management plan, and, worst of all, adequate economic and human resources are not available for monitoring, research, planning, and development. Consequently, most of the areas are being subjected to uses incompatible with conservation: grazing, farming, fishing, hunting, burning, etc. The only area where an effort is being made to protect the lake environment is the National Titicaca Reserve, in the Puno subregion. This reserve embraces the reed banks and floating islands of the Uros, one of whose problems is overexploitation of reeds. Two of the Bolivian areas are not delimited and the rest are not legally recognized.

Furthermore, new reserves are needed in the TDPS System to protect the high plateau's valuable resources and ecosystems of the altiplano. Chief among them is the Binational Reserve, whose extensive natural grasslands and marshes, inhabited by large herds of vicuña and alpaca, would straddle Peru and Bolivia.

No data are available for an assessment of ecosystem pollution by agrochemicals. However, this does not yet seem to be much of a problem in the TDPS System as a whole because, although widely known, agrochemicals are not used intensively or massively; in most of the region because of the extreme poverty, they are used little if at all.

They are most commonly used on foodstuffs in commercial demand and are limited to nitrogenized and phosphorated fertilizers (nitrates, phosphates and urea). However, the use of pesticides and herbicides, some of which are highly toxic and in fact prohibited or restricted in other countries (for example, DDT), gives cause for concern. In addition, there are problems involving herbicide management due to the farmers' lack of familiarity with such substances.

Tourism development

The TDPS region has abundant and varied tourism resources: woodlands with native fauna and flora, landscapes, opportunities for boating and fishing, archeological sites unique in the world, historical and religious relies, age-old customs and traditions, folkloric events and the like. Tourists currently visiting the region come primarily in search of landscapes and archeological sites. Proper advantage of these two resources has not yet been taken, however, because of an inadequate infrastructure of roads, hotels, promotion and other necessities. Furthermore, the other tourism resources mentioned must be integrated with them.

In the particular case of ecotourism, an especially significant potential resource, a properly planned system of protected areas first must be developed and integrated into the social and territorial context of the altiplano, including the provision of minimum facilities for visitors and researchers. The following ecotourism resources await development:

· Areas representative of the lake ecosystems: reed banks, sites where fish and birds abound (reproduction and nesting).

· Marshes and grasslands with abundant wildlife (vicuña, viscacha, etc.).

· Well-preserved tolares and queñoa stands with plentiful wildlife (vicuña, condors, etc.).

· Birds on the banks of Lake Poopó, especially flamingos.

· Salt marshes and saline ecosystems.

The development of such areas should involve the local population, with its traditions and customs, so that it can benefit from ecotourism through employment, handicrafts sales, guide services, etc.

Mining and industrial development

Mining is done especially in the southern part of the region, in the Oruro area, and output is exported to external markets. There is also mining in the Peruvian sector, though on a much smaller scale. Large mines predominate, though medium-sized and small mines are also active. The most heavily mined ores are metals such as tin, silver, zinc, and gold. Wherever it occurs, mining is the main cause in environmental degradation. Its impact takes the following forms:

· Pollution by heavy metals. The acid mine waters, the excavations and tailings indiscriminately dumped, and the effluents of concentration plants use flotation methods that these are the main sources of metals in solution and other substances employed in ore processing, such as cyanides and xanthates, which are highly toxic to aquatic fauna and flora.

· The salinization of the Desaguadero River and Lakes Poopó and Uru Uru as a result of open-cast mining, when volcanic soil rich in mineral salts that are flushed out by rain water is removed and left uncovered.

· Air pollution by suspended particles (dust) during the removal and crushing of polymetallic ores. The pollution is furthered by the semi-arid climate and the strong winds, especially in the Oruro area. However, the major impact on the air in the mining zones comes from smelters, which emit large volumes of sulfur dioxide and of arsenic and lead dust, which can be very harmful to health. There are signs that the high incidence of malformed newborns in Oruro may stem from the various types of pollution from mining and industry in the area.

One of the leading causes of environmental degradation from mining is the lack of environmental oversight, especially in the Oruro area. Although the recently established large mines (e.g., the Inti Raymi mine) follow environmental-protection procedures, older operations and small and medium-sized mines do not.

Industrial activity consists only of the Viacha (Bolivia) and Juliaca (Peru) cement plants, which constitute further sources of dust pollution.

Socioeconomic environment

The TDPS region was the center of me Tiwanacu culture, one of the most advanced of the pre-Columbian period and part of the Inca empire until a little less than a century before the arrival of the Spaniards. The present population, estimated at 2.2 million, is distributed approximately equally between the Peruvian and Bolivian altiplano and between rural areas and urban centers. Rural depopulation has been taking place in recent years. The cities of Puno and Juliaca in Peru and El Alto and Oruro in Bolivia are the region's main urban centers. Approximately 70% of the region's total population lives below the poverty line. Only 20% of the population is connected to a water supply and sewer system. Morbidity and mortality rates are very high. Rural illiteracy stands at 28%.

The tertiary sector (trade and services) constitutes the chief sector of the economy, with around 50% of GDP, followed by the primary sector (agriculture and mining). The secondary sector (industry) accounts for less than 15% of GDP.

Poverty is one of the critical social problems of the altiplano, affecting both the rural and the urban population and the entire social fabric in general. The available information indicates that in the Peruvian sector 73.5% of the total population, and in the Bolivian sector 99% of the rural population, lives in poverty. Poverty has a number of consequences:

· Families have to devote all their energies to meeting their basic needs for food, housing, and clothing, and their resources are too limited to seek an improvement in their living conditions, including their surroundings.

· Extreme poverty and a total lack of opportunity compel the rural population, especially young people, to migrate to the cities, where they crowd into degraded central districts and slums without basic public services, generally on insalubrious public lands and in hazardous areas.

· In the face of the numbers and the disorganized nature of these migrations, the government is unable to invest in housing and public services fast enough to keep up with the influx. This further lowers the living standards of large segments of the population and has a negative effect on the entire urban area.

· Industry, especially small enterprises, and public utilities, generally cite economic difficulties to justify their failure to treat their effluents, which aggravates the pollution of water sources and the poor living conditions of the population in the vicinity of those sources.

From 1981 to 1993 urban growth in the Puno subregion, in the Peruvian sector, registered 3.4% annually, while the rural population grew at only 0.7%. This indicates a rural exodus toward the urban centers of the altiplano, especially Puno and Juliaca. But emigration to other regions is also evident. A comparison of immigration and emigration figures for the Puno subregion in the censuses of 1981 and 1993 shows 7,374 immigrants, as against 81,554 emigrants. In this case the chief destination points outside the region are Arequipa, Cuzco, Lima-Callao and Tacna.

The Bolivian altiplano shows a similar trend. The urban growth rate for the period of 1990-1993 in the country as a whole was 4.3%, while the rural rate was negative: -0.4% (IDB Report, 1994). The fastest-growing city is El Alto, whose immigrants come mainly from the altiplano, where many of the municipalities are registering negative growth rates, or in other words are expelling their population.

In a sense, rural depopulation assists the conservation and recovery of soil and plant resources by lessening the pressure on them. However, the migration of poor, unskilled people to the cities increases the destitution belts and the associated socioenvironmental problems (poverty, poor use of urban land, housing shortages, unhealthful conditions, pollution, etc.).

The altiplano region is generally characterized by high morbidity and mortality rates and a high incidence of infectious diseases. Infant mortality is estimated at 89.9 per 1,000 in the Puna subregion, 115 per 1,000 in the La Paz area and 183 per 1,000 in the Oruro area. These infant mortality rates are among the highest in Latin America, higher than Haiti's 94 per 1,000.

The morbidity figures for the Puno subregion show environment-related infectious diseases heading the list with 49%. Among these, gastroenteritis, enteritis, and other diarrheic diseases associated with a lack of safe water and sanitation account for 25.1%. They are followed by influenza and the common cold (23.9%), which are connected to climatic conditions but also to the quality of housing.

Environmental pollution is a direct cause of other kinds of illnesses as well. Pulmonary silicosis, common in the mining areas, accounted for 97% of all cases of occupational diseases from 1990 to 1994. It is caused by inhalation of free silica dust, which penetrates the lungs and results in fibrosis and the developing of tuberculosis lesions. The departments most affected by this disease are Potosí, Oruro and La Paz, where most of Bolivia's mining industry is centered. Poisoning, especially by lead, is also common in smelting plants, both industrial and small-scale. Among the disorders stemming from poisoning by heavy metals and arsenic are brain disorders, anemia, problems of the nervous and reproductive systems and the kidneys, diminished production of red blood cells, and slower reflexes. In addition, rates of up to 9.5 malformations per 1,000 births, which are very probably linked to heavy-metal pollution of water and air, have been observed in the Oruro area.

Generally speaking, only the larger urban centers have water-treatment plants, and these are limited to chlorination. In any case, although the water may be of bacteriologically acceptable quality when it leaves the plant there is no assurance that this quality will be maintained until it reaches the consumer, given the shortcomings of the distribution systems or, in the case of Oruro, seepage from the sewer systems.

The available data further show that in many sectors of the basin the water contains high concentrations of toxic substances, especially heavy metals, and salinity. Consequently, many villages and rural communities, and even cities like Oruro, may be consuming water with levels of chemical pollution in excess of those acceptable for human consumption, especially considering that the treatment plants do no more than disinfect.

To analyze the possible effects of this problem it would be necessary to study the frequency of cancers in terms of morbidity and mortality, especially in the basins containing mining areas.

Educational levels in the TDPS System are very low - 21 % without schooling and 40% with complete or incomplete primary education, especially in the countryside. Illiteracy among the population aged 15 years and older stands at 22% in the Peruvian sector. In the countryside, illiteracy rates are 40% in the Peruvian sector and 26% in the Bolivian (the latter figure applies to the population aged 5 years and older). Illiteracy is up to twice as high in rural as in urban areas, and up to three times higher among women than men. As a result there not enough human resources with mastery of the basic disciplines.

Formal education, provided for the most part by the government, does not explicitly cover environmental topics. The subject matter is by and large irrelevant to local physical and geographic realities and to the region's social, cultural, and economic problems. This is one of the causes of the high failure and drop-out rates in the schools.

Nonformal education is offered by nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), official organizations, and the media. The NGOs focus their efforts on helping to meet the population's basic needs and mitigating its extreme poverty, so that their impact in terms of environmental education is considered low and incidental. The official organizations maintain little presence and their efforts are narrow in scope and limited in coverage. The media provide news but have few educational programs and their coverage is limited, especially in the countryside.

Legal framework and institutional management

In general terms, the existing legal framework concerning the environment in the two countries is diffuse and outdated, although laws on water, forests, fauna, protected areas, and air are currently being updated. In some cases, moreover, the laws are primarily sectoral, with the sector's economic development the principal concern and environmental protection an afterthought.

The existing legislation concerning water quality in Bolivia is rather old and diffuse. A bill addressing the general issue of water quality (Ley General de Aguas) is currently being studied by the Congress of the Republic. This is a much-needed piece of legislation, as water is the most important resource for the future development of the altiplano and because its conservation poses critical problems in some sectors, especially in connection with mining. With respect to biological resources, it is felt that the legislation on forestry development must be separated from that on biodiversity and protected areas, since they serve opposing interests.

In its institutional approach, the existing Bolivian system is very recent and seems very well designed at the national level, not only because environmental action is addressed at the ministerial level but also because it is closely tied to the national planning system. However, no corresponding reorganization or coordination mechanisms seem to have been introduced at the regional and municipal levels.

In Peru, Legislative Decree No. 611 of 1990, "Environment and Natural Resources Code," contains a set of general provisions concerning the protection of renewable natural resources and environmental management, but leaves the competent authorities - national, regional, municipal, or sectoral - responsible for issuing and enforcing regulations. The environmental administration model is sectoral, although the activities of the various sectors are supposed to be coordinated by the National Environmental Council (CONAM), created in December 1994. CONAM, a dependency of the Chairman of the Council of Ministers, directs the nation's environmental policy. It is responsible for planning, promoting, coordinating, supervising, and monitoring the country's environment and natural heritage. With respect to the ministries, CONAM coordinates environment-related activities among the various sectors and agencies of the central, regional, and local governments, to ensure that they accord with established policy. Each ministry is responsible for environmental administration in its own area.

Articles 67 to 69 of the Peruvian Constitution of 1993 provide that the state shall determine environmental policy, promote the sustainable use of natural resources, promote the conservation of biodiversity and protected areas, and ensure the sustainable development of Amazonia.

Proposed approach to environmental management

Given the nature and seriousness of the environmental problems described, no time should be lost in initiating effective action to protect and restore the region's environment. However, the preparation and planning involved will require a number of steps, and they will be the object of the next phase of the TDPS System environmental management project. Specifically, this phase will entail:

· Environmental zoning of the TDPS System as a basis for planning its sustainable development. A macrozoning map on a scale of 1:250,000 will be prepared for the entire System, using a geographic information system (GIS). The environmental units will include, among other things, the various production zones; special use and management zones, such as communities and restricted areas; environmental protection zones; and recovery zones, including eroded and polluted areas. In addition, maps will be made with ecological and economic zoning proposals on a scale of 1:50,000 for the system's special management areas, again using a GIS.

· The implementation of a project to compile and catalogue the information on natural resources and environmental conditions of the TDPS system, with initial emphasis on the information required for the environmental zoning. Once compiled and evaluated, the information will be catalogued and organized in such a way that it can be quickly retrieved and updated. The nature of the information permitting, it will be added to the GIS. This activity will be carried out in conjunction with the GS/OAS Plurinational Project on Indexing of Information on Natural Resources and Environmental Conditions in the Americas, and will support the Inter-American Water Resources Network coordinated by the GS/OAS.

· The formulation of an environmental management program for the TDPS System, to set priorities for projects designed to improve the quality of life of the inhabitants of the altiplano in a framework of sustainable development. The program will encompass proposals on an environmental policy for the system; on strategies for the sustainable development of the region and for a legal and institutional management that takes account of the System's binational character; and on programs and projects to be executed over the long term, with objectives, justification, goals, activities, costs, and implementation timetable.

· Preinvestment studies for the high-priority environmental projects, in particular those concerning the recovery of the Lake Titicaca ecosystem and the plan for managing the binational reserve of the Titicaca altiplano.

· The preparation of a program of institutional support to the Lake Titicaca Autonomous Authority, with a view to strengthening its operational capacity. The program will have three components: a legal one, to devise a legal instrument that furthers the sustainable development and environmental protection of the region; an institutional one, to devise an organizational basis for the implementation of the Environmental Management Program of the TDPS System under the future Autonomous Authority, and an economic one, to devise a plan for the implementation of legal, fiscal, and rate-setting instruments for environmental management, particularly for pollution control programs and protected area management, especially the Lake Titicaca Altiplano Binational Reserve.

Within the GS/OAS-UNEP Agreement and the Agreement between the Governments of Bolivia and Peru and the GS/OAS, activities on the environmental zoning of the TDPS System and the compilation and cataloguing of information on natural resources and environmental conditions were begun in 1995, and the TDPS System Environmental Management Program is in preparation, as are preinvestment studies for the high-priority environmental projects and the program of institutional support to the Lake Titicaca Autonomous Authority.

Preparation of the environmental assessment

The following professionals participated in the preparation of the environmental assessment of the TDPS System (Bolivia-Peru):

· Ad Hoc Transition Committee, Binational Autonomous Authority for TDPS System
Julio Sanjinés Goytia (Bolivia)
Ariel Bermejo (Peru)
Mario Revollo (Bolivia)
Raúl Gutiérrez (Peru)
Aníbal Pacheco (Peru)

· Department of Regional Development and Environment, GS/OAS
Newton V. Cordeiro, General Supervision
Alfonso Pérez Preciado, International Coordinator
Nelson da Franca Ribeiro dos Anjos, International Edition
Juergen Oelsner, International Edition

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