"The UN reports that the socio-economic conditions of the population are amongst the worst in the world."
Afghanistan has long been a land
of marginal environment, too dry and too cold for much life. Thousands of years of environmental stress by the country's people
have dramatically altered the landscape and caused extensive environmental destruction. Because the Afghan people lack
the financial means to purchase fuel, they must cut trees, uproot shrubs, and collect dung for burning. Domestic animals
overgraze the range. The result is extensive soil erosion by water and wind. Long-term irrigation without flushing has added
salt to much of the arable land and destroyed its fertility. Polluted water supplies are common, except in the high mountain
regions where few people live permanently. No specific environmental study has been carried out in Afghanistan. The pressures
of the war and the lack of information on the quality of air, water, vegetation, land, and other environmental factors could
be attributed to the non-existence of organizations or agencies devoted to this issue.
Opium:-:Opium has flourished in Afghanistan since the time of Alexander the Great, when it was used as medicine.
But under the Taliban production increased spectacularly, to the point where Afghanistan supplied 80% of Europe's heroin.
After several years of unofficial tolerance and profit from the crop, the Taliban virtually eradicated Afghanistan's opium
crop, in 2000, after an edict by Mullah Mohammad Omar, the Taliban leader. The Taliban ban on poppy-growing slashed Afghan
opium production by 94 per cent last year.Of Afghanistan's 29 provinces, 10 grow poppies. Of these the richest are Helmand
in the south and Nangrahar in the east. Once the agriculture's productivity was declined or monopolized by certain warlords,
the cultivation of opium was an other cheap and accessible alternative for the poor farmers. That was mainly encouraged by
the growing international drug market. Hence, this resulted in further degradation of Afghanistan's environment.
mines:-:The legacy of land mines in Afghanistan is the worst environmental nightmare that has been created as
a result of constant war. The presence of more than ten million land mines in the country, makes it the world's most
deadly mine field. The daily death toll due to these devices is about 20 to 30 people, mostly children and civilians.Even
though Afghanistan itself doesn't have any industry to create air pollutants, smog is a common phenomenon in most of the urban
areas. Trans-boundary air pollution is another concern. Due to this, Afghanistan receive enormous amounts of pollutants originating
from the Aral sedimentary basin, Iran, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan's industrial parks. How much of the pesticides originating
from these countries and worldwide end up on our lands and environment through air currents and rains, is another mystery
that is adding to our environmental crises.
Weapons:-:Chemical weapons have been used during the Afghan war with the Soviets, and this caused severe
short-term damage to the environment and ecosystem. No data exists on their long-term effects. It could be concluded that
at present, the environment in Afghanistan is in a deep crises. The problems not only affect the people of Afghanistan and
their ecosystem, but the whole world. Once any of the environmental components are lost, recovery is almost impossible, e.g.,
the capture of a pair of Caspian Tigers (Panthera Tigris Virgata), roaming in the mountains of eastern Afghanistan in April
1997, may have put an end to the survival of this highly endangered and almost extinct species. The people of Afghanistan
are in desperate need of help to repair their natural habitat and ecosystem, and it is the duty of the whole International
community this wounded piece of our common home, earth.
Source: Daud Saba via Mardom Nama-e Bakhter
Ecosystem:-:Studies revealed that until at leat 2000 B.C.E, the land of Afghanistan was covered with cedar-rich
forests, and had a different pattern of climatic and life support system than that of today. The ecosystem in Afghanistan
had never been damaged to the extent that it has been in the last two decades. This deterioration has been created by the
unlimited use of nature and its energy. Albeit, this environmental degradation was enhanced by war. Two thirds of the landscape
of Afghanistan is occupied by mountainous terrains with little or no vegetation, typical of an arid country. For this
reason, the vegetation in these terrains play a vital role in the ecosystem. For example, if we consider the role of pistachio
(Pistacia vera, yielding) among hundreds of other floras, we find out that it not only provides climatic and environmental
stabilization over the areas of its growth, but eases the life of thousands of families by providing them with a natural source
of income. Half of the remaining parts of the country's landscape are deserts, which are hostile environments. The rest are
farmlands and pastures. At present, only six percent of the fifteen percent of agricultural land in Afghanistan is under
cultivation. In the past twenty years, the agricultural areas have been drastically decreased. It is estimated that we
lost thirty percent of the farmlands and pastures, either by abandonment or degradation. This led to a drastic change of the
previously dominant climatic and environmental factors in this region.Compared to that of 1979, our agricultural farm products
have decreased fifty percent. To compensate for this loss, rural people started to utilize the free natural resources of their
environment. The end result of this process was a disaster for the few natural forests, which were cut and smuggled to Pakistan.
Deforestation, floods and avalanches added to the devastation.