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for establishing a national environmental and natural resource information network compatible with the UNEP/GRID

The State Committee of the Azerbaijan Republic for Ecology and Nature Management
T.A.Ismailov, F.M.Akhoun-Zade


The main tasks in the field of environmental information, as outlined in Chapter 40 of Agenda 21 adopted in Rio, i.e. closing the information gap between the developed and developing nations, and ensuring access to data and information already available, fully apply to Azerbaijan, too. The UNEP Environment Assessment Programme (EAP) mandate includes: providing the world community with data and information; enhancing the governmentís ability to use environmental information in taking justifiable decisions; planning activities to ensure sustainable development of humanity. To support the achievement of these objectives, the UNEP/EAP has been providing assistance to developing countries and economies in transition to increase their potential in environmental information and data management.


The environment is an important part of the UNEP/GRID assistance programme for economies in transition. Work in this area should be aimed at using the experience the developed nations have gained over the past 10-15 years, as well as the experience of other international organizations.

The UNEP/GRID programme of co-operation with economies in transition may include three main elements:
integration of environmental issues;
institutional capacity building;
environmental information.

Geographical Outline

The Azerbaijan Republic is situated in the eastern part of Trans-Caucasian territory. The area of the republic is 86.6 thousand sq. km. The population is 7.3 million. In the north, Azerbaijan borders on the Dagestan Republic (the border length is 289 km), in the north-west with the Georgian Republic (340 km), in the south-west with the Republic of Armenia (766 km). In the south, Azerbaijanís state border is with the Islamic Republic of Iran (618Ýkm) and the Turkish Republic (11 km). In the east, the Azerbaijan Republic is washed by the Caspian Lake. The coastline is about 825 km long in the republic. The Caspian Lake provides an outlet into the River Volga, linking Azerbaijan with Central Russia, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and, further, with the republics of Central Asia which connect it with Siberia and the Far East.
The Azerbaijan Republic is, predominantly, a mountainous country. Yet, along with high mountain ridges, there are vast plains and lowlands. The republicís average elevation is 384 m. 18 percent of the republicís territory is situated below the sea level. Plains and lowlands (with elevations less than 500 m) account for 39 percent of the territory, low and medium mountains (with elevations ranging between 500 and 2500 m), 39.5 percent, and high mountains (more than 2500 m), 3.5 percent. Geotectonically, the territory of Azerbaijan is divided into 4 major geomorphological regions: the Greater Caucasus, the Minor Caucasus, the Kura-Araks Plain and the Talysh mountains. The hydrographic network of Azerbaijan took its present shape over a long period of time, and has undergone multiple changes due to manifestations of tectonic forces and Quaternary glaciation. Even today, it is changing due to natural processes and manís activities resulting in major changes in the river systems and riversí water regime to meet the requirements of the national economy. These activities include building 50 water reservoirs, each with a capacity of more than 1 mln. cubic meters. The republic has 8350 rivers of various lengths totalling 33,665 km. All the rivers are divided into five groups: the smallest ones (up to 25 km long), small (26 to 50 km), medium (51 to 100 km), large (101Ýto 500 km) and the largest (over 500 km). The rivers in the Azerbaijan Republic belong to the Caspian Lake catchment and are grouped into three particular basins:
The River Kura catchment.
The River Araks catchment.
Rivers that flow directly into the Caspian Lake.
There are over 250 lakes and 50 water reservoirs in the republic (the Caspian Lake, Ajikabul, Bejukshor, Jandargel).
According to the State Committee for Geology, the republic has over 200 groups of mineral water outcrop.
Climatically, Azerbaijan is mainly situated in the subtropical zone, extending from north-west to south-east in the form of a horn with its mouth turned towards the Caspian Lake. All the year round, the country receives plenty of solar heat and light. It is located far away from the ocean effects, and is close to the dry steppe and desert areas, which determines a considerable degree of insulation, high evaporation and air dryness.
The average annual air temperature ranges between 12 and 14 degrees C. It decreases with elevation in lowlands and foothills, and is negative at an elevation of 3 km, i.e. about minus 1 degree C. The average annual sums of above-zero temperatures in Azerbaijan are:
4500 degrees C in the western part of the Kura-Araks lowland;
5300 degrees C in the eastern part;
4000 to 4500 degrees C in the foothills (up to elevations of 700-800 m).
In the north-eastern part of Azerbaijan, the average annual sums of above-zero temperatures are 4500 to 4600 degrees C in the lowland coastal areas, and 3500 to 3700 degrees C in the foothills, with 5000 degrees C in the Nakhichevan Autonomous Republic.

The annual precipitation is 1000 to 1200 mm in the south-eastern part of the republic, and 1700 mm at an elevation of 800 m. At the same time, there are semidesert areas, such as Gobustan, where annual precipitation is 150 to 200Ýmm. On the southern slope of the Greater Caucasus, at 600-700 m, the annual precipitation is 600 to 800 mm, and 1300 mm at elevations of 1500 to 2000 m.
On the north-eastern slope of the Greater Caucasus, annual precipitation totals 600 to 700 mm, while the total for Azerbaijan is 350 to 500Ýmm. There is little precipitation, 200 mm, in lowland areas, except for the Lenkoran region. The monsoon character of winds is pronounced in the lowland coastal area in the south-eastern part of Azerbaijan: south-easterly winds predominate in the warm season (blowing from the Caspian Lake), and westerly winds from the dry land in the cold season. Mountain and valley winds are predominant in mountainous areas, and northerly winds (the Baku north wind) in the Apsheron peninsula and on the nearby islands, with frequent southerly winds (Khazri). The highest wind velocity is observed in the coastal area, especially in Apsheron, where it reaches 20 to 25 m per second, while northerly winds may sometimes have a velocity of over 30 to 35 m per second. Azerbaijan has 9 out of 11 types of climatic zones: semidesert and dry steppe climate, moderately warm with dry winter, moderately warm with dry summer, cold with dry winter, cold with dry summer, moderately warm with an almost even distribution of precipitation over all seasons, cold with abundant precipitation all the year round, and the climate of the mountain tundra.
The Caspian Lake is unique in that it is the largest land-locked water reservoir in the world. Its area is 400 thousand sq. km, the volume of water is 80 thousand cu. km, and it is 1280 km long and 335 km wide, the maximum depth being 1026 m. Four-fifths of the Caspian water balance is formed by the river flows running into the lake. The water coming to the lake is mostly lost to evaporation. Low water-levels and intensive evaporation were observed between 1929 and 1976, which resulted in the overall water level decreasing by 3 meters. Starting from 1977, the lakeís level has been increasing again. The increase between 1977 and 1994 was from minus 28.8 to minus 26.6.
Azerbaijan is rich in mineral deposits. Hydrocarbon raw materials, i.e. oil and gas, are the basis of fuel and energy resources. The republic has 70 oil and gas deposits, 50 of which are located in inland areas, while the rest are in the Caspian Lake, with a total of 350 beds. An iron-ore deposit is being worked in Dashkesan (the Minor Caucasus), a lead-zinc deposit in the township of Gumushlu, an alunite deposit in Zaglik, and others. The largest deposit of polymetals which is not being worked at present, is the Filizchai deposit located on the southern slope of the Greater Caucasus.

Mining for non-metallic minerals has become widespread in the republic. The deposits include the Chardakhla refractory clay deposit, the fluxing limestone deposit at Dashkesan, the Negram and Kobustan dolomite deposits. The Kazakh district is the area where the Dashsakhla bentonite deposit, the Aidag ceolite deposit, the Agdjakend gypsum deposit, the Nephtechalin and Khillin iodine and bromine deposits are located. There are over 100 quarries in Apsheron, and a rock salt deposit in the Nakhichevan Republic.

The flora of Azerbaijan is rather rich, with 4300 species of higher, spore-bearing and flower plants, of which 240 are endemic. The total area of woodland is 1213.7 thousand hectares, with 989.3 thousand hectares of land covered with forests. The republicís forests belong to Group I and are functionally categorized as follows: water protection, 10 percent; protective, 69.8 percent, sanitary-hygienic, 11.6 percent; special purpose, 7.9 percent.

Wildlife is diverse and includes 99 mammal species, 123 fish species and subspecies, 360 bird species, 54 reptile and 14 thousand insect species. The Azerbaijan Republic has 11 national parks with a total area of 191.2 thousand hectares.

Brief Historical Outline

Class-based society developed early in the 1st millennium B.C. Ancient states of Manna, Mydia, Athropathena, Caucasian Albania existed between the 9th century B.C. and the beginning of A.D. In the 9th and 10th centuries A.D. the territory of Azerbaijan was part of Iran and the Arab Caliphate. The 9th century saw mass liberation movements (the Mazdakides, the Babek uprising). In the 9th to 16th centuries, the feudal state of Shirvan and other states existed in the area, and those were subjected to invasions by the Mongols, Tartars and Tamerlane. In the 16th century, the country, as part of the Sefewides State, became the focus of strife between Turkey and Iran. A national liberation movement led by Kerogly started in the 16th century. In the middle of the 18th century, there were 15 feudal states in the area of the present Azerbaijan. As a result of wars between Russia and Iran, Azerbaijan was divided into two parts, North and South, in 1813 and 1828. North Azerbaijan, which is now the Azerbaijan Republic, became part of Russia, as the Baku and the Gianja provinces (guberniyas). In 1918, after the October revolution made by the Bolsheviks in Russia, Azerbaijan became a democratic republic on MayÝ18. However, the Bolsheviks overthrew it on April 28, 1920, and Azerbaijan became one of the constituent republics of the Soviet Union. Azerbaijan regained its independence and became a separate state in AugustÝ1991 as a result of the disintegration of the USSR and the entire socialist block.
Nowadays, Azerbaijan is a presidential republic. Its capital is Baku whose population is 1.8 mln.
Other major cities are Gianja (290 thousand inhabitants), Sumgayit (246 thousand), Mingechavir (56 thousand), Nakhichevan (62.5 thousand), and Hankendi (45 thousand).
The population growth in 1993-94 was 0.9 percent. For more than seven years Azerbaijan has been exposed to aggression by Armenia over the far-fetched problem of Nagorny Karabakh. 20 percent of the area of Azerbaijan has been seized by the Armenian aggressors. The number of refugees has reached 1.5 million.


Oil and gas production is the main industry in the republic (the Apsheron peninsula, offshore fields, etc.). Also developed are oil refining (Baku, 22 mln tonnes) and power generation (15 to 18 billion kWh). There is a series of hydroelectric power stations on the River Kura. Other industries include metallurgy (steel, pipes, aluminium), mining (extraction and dressing of iron ore and alunite in Dashkesan and Gianja), machine-building (for oil and chemical industries, electrical engineering, electronics, instrument-building), chemical and petrochemical industries (manufacture of mineral fertilizers, sulphuric acid, synthetic rubber, sulfonyl, etc.), light industry (ginning, silk reeling, cotton spinning, carpet weaving), food industry (wines, canned food, fish, tobacco and tea). Cotton is the main industrial crop (500 to 1000 thousand tonnes per year). 1074 thousand tonnes of grain was produced in 1988. 817 thousand tonnes of grapes were harvested in 1977, and 1700 thousand tonnes in 198185.
The total length of railways is 1885 km, that of motor roads is 23Ýthousand km.
There are ports on the Caspian Lake. Industrial and agricultural output has declined considerably due to the disintegration of the Soviet Union and the disruption of economic ties. Industrial enterprises work at 20 to 25 percent of their capacity. Productivity in agriculture has reduced 2-3 times. While in the 80-ies the annual output of cotton was 0.8-1.0 mln tonnes, and that of grapes was 1.5-1.7 mln tonnes, today the output of these crops is 0.2-0.3 mln tonnes and 0.25 mln tonnes, respectively. There is a similar situation with other crops (tobacco, cocoons, vegetables, fruit, etc.).
The living standard is low. The minimum wage is 5500 manat, or 1.2ÝUSÝdollar, average wages are between 3 and 20 US dollars.
Historical and Architectural Monuments
The Azykh Cave is a site of ancient Ashel culture. Remnants of the most ancient dwellings in the former USSR, stone tools, a sanctuary and hiding place with sculls of cave-bears have been found in the Karabakh region. Rock pictures of human beings, animals, boats, etc. dating back to various periods (from the Mesolithic period to Middle Ages) have been discovered in Kobustan, in the foothills of the Greater Caucasus, west of the Apsheron peninsula.
The Maiden Tower (Kyz Kalasy) in Baku is a monument of Azerbaijanís medieval architecture, built in the 12th century by the architect Masud, the son of Dawoud. It is a formidable cylindrical structure with a protrusion on the eastern side and ribbed horizontal masonry all over the facade (viewed from the top, it resembles a key).
Another monument of medieval architecture is the Shirvanshah palace in Baku. It is a set of buildings grouped around 3 courtyards: the Divankhan palace (the court of law), the burial-vault (1435-36), and the Eastern Gate (1585).

The Level of Environmental Pollution

The environmental situation in Azerbaijan could be described as critical. So many environmental problems have been accumulated during the Soviet regime that it seems impossible to eliminate all the bottlenecks and restore nature in its original state.
Air pollution
From 1.2 mln to 2.1 mln tonnes or even more of harmful substances are emitted into the air annually, depending on the utilization of industrial production facilities. Thus, according to the republicís State Committee for Statistics, the total emissions of harmful substances in 1991 amounted to 2.6 mln tonnes, including 112 thousand tonnes of solid dust, 93 thousand tonnes of sulfur dioxide, 638 thousand tonnes of carbon dioxide, 82 thousand tonnes of nitrogen oxide, 1665 thousand tonnes of hydrocarbons, 37 thousand tonnes of volatile organic substances. The actual figures, however, are even higher. The cities of Baku and Sumgayit, whose atmosphere is polluted by oil refineries, petrochemical industries, power plants, metallurgy and building materials industries, are leading in terms of the volume and unit load of atmospheric emissions. Road transport, too, contributes significantly to air pollution. Not only air, but the environment in general is highly polluted in the cities of Gianja, Mingechavir, Alibairamly, Sumgayit and Baku. These cities account for 80 percent of all emissions in the republic, with the share of Baku being 66.1 percent, that of Sumgayit 4.5 percent, Gianja 3 percent, Mingechavir 2.5 percent, Alibairamly 5 percent. In 1990 and 1991, the load of harmful emissions per unit area was 400 tonnes per sq.km in Baku, 1200 tonnes in Sumgayit, 550 tonnes in Gianja, 1000 in Alibairamly, 480 tonnes in Mingechavir, while the average for Azerbaijan was 24 tonnes per sq.km, which is 10 times higher than the average USSR level (2.3 tonnes per sq.km). Although the total emissions have somewhat reduced, due to the disintegration of the USSR, and the disruption of economic links, due to which enterprises have not been working at their full capacity (35 percent), the range of hazardous ingredients remains at the same level (60 to 70 ingredients in Baku and Sumgayit). Air pollution in these cities is caused by worn-out equipment and obsolete processes that have not been changed for the past 40-50 years, as well as by the burning of high-sulphur fuel oil instead of natural gas which is in short supply in Azerbaijan. Air-protection measures, planned and much needed, remain for ever unaccomplished, and funds allocated for nature protection are never adequate, which is yet another cause of air pollution. Thus, analysis of data for the period between 1980 and 1991 shows that allocations for environmental protection amounted to 0.5-0.6 percent of investments into industry, while the average for the Soviet Union at that time was 1.7 percent, and in industrialized countries it was from 5 to 25 percent.
The table below shows total emissions by road traffic in 1989 through 1994, in thousand tonnes per year:


Changes in emissions of harmful substances from stationary sources (enterprises) are shown below for the years 1986 through 1994:

Harmfulsubstances,thousand tonnes920.9879.4799.52294.52108.619191592.11533.31163.2
Caseous648.2631.6588.51 999.91960.41807.11571.51471.91134.8

An abrupt increase in air emissions in 1989 is due to the fact that, starting from that year, statistics have been taking into account actual air emissions of waste gases, while decreases in 1993 and 1994 were related to the disruption of economic links and underloading of enterprises.
Concentrations of harmful substances in the atmospheric air of major cities is shown below as multiples of maximum permissible concentrations:

BakuBenzopyrene- --
Nitrogen dioxide1.
Sulphur dioxide--

Nitrogen dioxide2.
Fluorine, hydrogen2.

Waste Water
Every year some 16 to 16.6 billion cubic meters of water was taken from the surface (15.0 - 15.6 bln. cu. m) and from the ground waters (1.21.25Ýbln. cu. m) in 1992-1993, to be used in industry and in agriculture (for irrigation). Water consumption was between 11.45 and 13.7 bln.cu.m, of which 344 to 400Ýmln.cu.m was used in the housing sector, 3325 to 3434Ýmln.cu.m in industry, and 7641 to 9700 mln.cu.m for irrigation. Losses of fresh water amount to 3.04.4 bln.cu.m, mainly occuring in transportation along irrigating mains and in water distribution systems, as the former have no lining in them and the latter are in a poor technical condition. The volume of water disposal is 4.3 to 5.17 bln.cu.m per year, of which 3.8 to 4.56 bln. cu.m is standard pure water, 0.28 to 0.325 bln.cu.m is water treated to specification, and 0.25 to o.35 bln.cu.m is contaminated sewage water. The main contributors of contaminated sewage water are the housing sector and municipal services (0.2 bln.cu.m) and industry (from 0.5 to 0.6Ýbln.cu.m). The rivers Kura and Araks and, further, the Caspian Lake are most affected by pollution. The waters of the Kura and the Araks are a source of drinking water supply for major urban areas in Azerbaijan, first of all, Baku, Sumgayit, Alibairamly and Mingechavir. The problem is that said rivers are transit ones and flow into Azerbaijan from the neighbouring countries - Turkey, Georgia and Armenia.
In Georgia and Armenia the Kura, the Araks and their tributaries are heavily polluted. On the average, over 3.0 bln.cu.m of waste water is discharged into the Kura basin annually by Georgia. In 1992-94, the average annual concentration of phenol in the vicinity of the Azerbaijan village of Shikhly, which is on the border with Georgia, ranged from 13 to 17 maximum permissible concentrations (MPC), that of oil products was between 1.5 and 2.0ÝMPC. Inflow of untreated waste water results in a sharp increase in the biochemical oxygen consumption, 2-3 times in excess of the norm.
The rivers Alazan and Iori coming from Georgia flow into the Mingechavir water reservoire. The average runoffs of these rivers are 106 and 6.7 thousand cu.m per second, respectively. According to the Georgian Hydrometeorological Committee, the level of ammonia nitrogen in the Alazan and the Iori is 1 to 4 and 2 to 7 times in excess of permissible concentration, respectively, the level of oil products is 2-6 and 2-10 times higher, and that of phenols 15 to 20 and 5 to 18 times higher than the MPC.
The river Akstafachai, the right-bank tributary of the Kura, is already polluted when it flows in from Armenia. Its average runoff is 8.5 cu.m per second. The main sources of pollution of this river in Armenia are industrial enterprises in the cities of Idjevan and Dilijan, as well as domestic waste water in populated areas. Here, the nitrate level is 1 to 3 MPC, that of ammonia nitrogen, 2 to 5 MPC, oil products, 1 to 1.3 MPC, copper, 3 to 80 MPC. In addition, the Akstafachai is polluted with industrial and domestic waste water in the cities of Kazakh and Akstafa in the Azerbaijan Republic. The river Kura inside Azerbaijan is mainly polluted with domestic waste waters in the cities of Shamkir, Gianja, Mingechavir, Evlakh, Zardob, Alibairamly and others. The volume of untreated waste waters discharged annually into the Kura is around 25 to 30 bln.cu.m.
The river Araks and its tributaries are polluted both in Armenia and in Azerbaijan. The principal pollution comes into the Araks via the tributaries Razdan, Bargushadchai, Okchuchai, Nakhichevanchai, Basitchai. The Razdan is polluted with waste waters discharged by such major enterprises of Armenia as the Razdan thermo-electric plant, production association Polyvinylacetate, research and production association Nairit, the tyre factory, the electrical engineering factory, the household chemical factory, the Kapakar aluminium plant, and others. The river Okchuchai is a dead river polluted with industrial waste waters from the Kvajaran copper/molybdenum plant and the Kafan copper ore factory.
According to the Armenian and Azerbaijani hydrometeorological committees, the concentration of copper, iron and molybdenum in the river Okchuchai exceeds the limit tens and hundreds of times. The disintegration of the Soviet Union and the undeclared war of Armenia against Azerbaijan resulted in deliberate pollution of the river.
The law suits filed by Azerbaijan against Armenia have yielded no positive results. International law organizations and environmental agencies must interfere.
Soil pollution
The principal factors of pollution and degradation of land (soil) include erosion, salinization, the use of mineral fertilizers and pesticides, as well as other technological impacts. Salinization is caused by both natural conditions and economic activities. The total area of saline land is 501.9 thousand hectares. Secondary salinization has become rather widespread as a result of irrigation irregularity. More than 80 percent of irrigated land needs to be reclaimed. The area of eroded land is 3685 thousand hectares, which is 42.5Ýpercent of the total area of the country. 33.7 percent of arable land, 68.1Ýpercent of summer grazing land, 15.2 percent of hay land, 15.9 percent of orchards, 23.9 percent of vineyards, and 26 percent of forests are affected by erosion. Water erosion (irrigational, planar and linear wash) has developed, especially on slopes where annual wash ranges from 105 to 516 cu. m per hectare. Mudflow and landslide formation processes have intensified. The area of mudflow centres is 310 sq. km.
Chemical soil pollution is caused by overapplication of mineral fertilizers and toxic chemicals. According to the State Committee for Statistics, a total of 840 thousand hectares has been treated with agricultural chemicals throughout the republic, of which 372 thousand hectares with herbicides. The south-eastern part of the Kura-Araks lowlands (cotton-growing areas) is especially heavily polluted with toxic chemicals. There, the level of hazardous chemicals in the soil is, on the average, o.94 kg per sq.m, with the level of DDT exceeding the norm nine times. More than 24 thousand hectares of land has been damaged by engineering and economic activities, of which over 10 thousand hectares has been polluted with oil. On the whole, 12 percent of Azerbaijanís territory is polluted with mineral fertilizers and chemicals.
Solid wastes
The principal factors causing generation and stockpiling of the industrial and domestic wastes include: imperfect processes that are being used, lack of co-operation in production which would enable wastes from some facilities to be used as raw materials by others, and lack of waste recirculation. The largest share in the total volume of wastes belongs to mining and ore dressing wastes the amount of which increases by several million tonnes every year. And they are not put to practical use. Therefore, about 115-120 mln. tonnes of such wastes has been accumulated by now, occupying more than 200Ýhectares of land.
Solid industrial wastes are mostly generated at chemical and petrochemical plants, oil refineries, metallurgical and mining industries, building material factories and in the domestic sector. Thus, the volume of open-hearth slag from the Azerbaijan pipe-rolling plant in Sumgayit, stockpiled at landfills, disposal areas, storage sites, tailing dumps is 1.3 mln. tonnes, alunite and bauxite slurry from the Gianja aluminium oxide plant amounts to 7.0 and 1.4 mln. tonnes, respectively. The Orgsyntez production association generates 90 thousand tonnes of waste limestone every year. Oil refineries in Baku generate 14.0 thousand tonnes of acid tar and 27.7 thousand tonnes of gumbrine annually. Quarries are production sites which handle the largest amounts of materials, and their dumps already contain more than 100 mln. tonnes of limestone (quarrystone, sand).
The inventory made in 1994 showed that 35.5 thousand tonnes of toxic wastes were generated that year throughout the republic. At present, a total of about 3 mln. tonnes of toxic wastes have been accumulated at disposal sites that are now sources of pollution.
Toxic waste generation in 1990-94

Amount (thousand tonnes)204153.2156.079.935.5

The above table shows that the amounts of wastes generated have been reducing every year, but this has not been achieved through the introduction of low-waste technologies. Rather, this is the result of the decline in industrial output caused by the disruption of economic links, as enterprises have only been working at 35-40 percent of their full capacity.
This enabled enterprises to improve recovery of their wastes. However, in 1991, 42 percent of wastes were not recycled, in 1992 - 61 percent, in 1993 - 76 percent, and in 1994 - 93 percent.
The situation is particularly unacceptable in Sumgayit where 64 main types of wastes are generated, the total annual accumulation volume being over 300 thousand tonnes. Of these, only 24 types of wastes (100 thousand tonnes) are covered by concrete measures aimed at their recycling. The Chimprom production association has stockpiled more than 100 thousand tonnes of mercury slurry of toxicity class I, all of which is stored in the open and is not recycled. The republic lacks special toxic waste disposal sites, while the existing 1.5 ha site belonging to the Azeragrochemistry production association has been filled with toxic chemicals to capacity.

The Status of the National System of Environmental Protection

The State Committee of the Azerbaijan Republic for Ecology and Nature Management (before September 1992 it was called the State Committee for Nature Protection) was established in 1962 as a department of the Ministry of Agriculture, and in 1967 it was reorganized into the State Committee for Nature Protection reporting directly to the Cabinet of Ministers of the republic. Resolution 130 of 21 May, 1992 passed by Milli Mejlis on the basis of the Law on Nature Protection and Management passed on 25ÝFebruary, 1992, brought theState Committee under the jurisdiction of the President of the Republic. Presidential decree 176 of 7 September, 1992Ýdefined the Committeeís tasks, functions, powers and responsibilities, and placed with the Committee the government control over the state of the environment and nature management.
Structurally, the State Committee for Ecology includes 28 city, district and interdistric committees for ecology and nature management, 14 national parks and one hunting reserve. Besides, the Committee has under its jurisdiction the Special Environmental Law Enforcement Inspectorate, the State Inspectorate for the Caspian Lake Resource Conservation, the Research and Production Centre for Ecology, the editorial office of the ìAzerbaijan tebiyatiî (ìAzerbaijanís Natureî) magazine.
The central office of the State Committee for Ecology has the following structure:
top leadership:
two Vice-Chairmen,
Chairmanís advisors;
department of nature management planning and organizational work;
department of land, mineral resources, flora and natural monuments conservation, with the waste management division in it;
department of water management;
department of atmospheric air protection ;
department of environmental impacts and status assessment;
department of national parks, hunting reserves and fauna conservation;
department of information, research and international relations;
department of finance, accounting and reporting;
department of personnel and special activities;
department of internal administration and bookkeeping.
The State Committee for Ecology has the Board (Environmental Board) and the Expert Council consisting of more than 60 scholars and experts. 50Ýpeople are employed at the central office of the Committee, while the total number of employees in the whole system is 1300 people.
The Board (Environmental Council) holds regular meetings to discuss everyday issues of the Committeeís activities; ways and means of improving nature conservation and management; implementation of state supervision over compliance by all ministries, agencies, NGOís, government and private organizations and individuals with environmental legislation, rules and standards for nature conservation; practical matters of running subordinate institutions; implementation of decisions passed earlier; selection, appointment and training of personnel; drafting new legislation and other statutory documents. The Board also hears reports by heads of executive departments, and presentations and briefings by officials of ministries, state committees, concerns and enterprises.
The subnational branches of the State Committee for Ecology are:
Baku City Committee for Ecology
Sumgayit City Committee for Ecology
Apsheron Interdistrict Committee for Ecology (Apsheron, Divichin and Khyzyn districts);
Agdam Interdistrict Committee (Agdam, Agjabedin, Beilagan districts);
Bardi Interdistrict Committee (Bardi, Terter, Kelbajar districts);
Kazakh Interdistrict Committee (Kazakh, Akstafa, Tavu districts);
Gabaly Committee;
Gubatly Committee for Ecology (the district has been occupied by the Armenian aggressors);
Gusar Committee;
Zakataly Interdistrict Committee (Zakataly, Gakh, Belokan districts);
Zangelan District Committee (the district has been occupied by the Armenian aggressors);
Alibairamly Interdistrict Committee (Alibairamly, Ajikabul districts);
Ismaili District Committee;
Gianja Interdistrict Committee (the city of Gianja and Samukh, Khanlar and Dashkesan districts);
Geranboi District Committee:
Geokchai Interdistrict Committee (Geokchai, Zardob and Ujar districts);
Lenkoran Interdistrict Committee (Lenkoran, Astari and Lerik districts);
Massala Interdistrict Committee (Massala and Yardymli districts);
Mingechavir Interdistrict Committee (the city of Mingechavir and Evlakh and Agdash districts);
Salyan Interdistrict Committee (Salyan, Bilasuvar, Neftechaly districts);
Sabirabad Interdistrict Committee (Sabirabad, Saatli and Imishli districts);
Fizuli Interdistrict Committee (Fizuli and Jebrail districts have been completely occupied by the Armenian aggressors);
Khachmaz Interdistrict Committee (Khachmaz and Kuba districts);
Shemakha Interdistrict Committee (Shemakha, Akhsuin, Gobustan and Kurdamir districts);
Shekin Interdistrict Committee (Shekin and Ogouz districts);
Shamkir Interdistrict Committee (Shamkir and Kedabek districts);
Shusha Interdistrict Committee (Shusha, Agderi, Khojaven and Askeran districts and the city of Khankendi have been completely occupied by the Armenian aggressors);
Nakhichevan State Republican Committee for Ecology.

Ministries, State committees and Authorities Dealing with Environmental Protection

The administrative structure of environmental management has been inherited from the former USSR and has so far remained rather complex. Thus, the republicís parliament has the Committee for Environmental Protection and Natural Resource Conservation (nowadays referred to as the Committee for Social Policy).
In the past, before All-Union Committee for Environmental Protection had been established, there were the Committee of the Presidium of the USSR Council of Ministers for Nature Protection and Natural Resource Management, and a similar committee in the Azerbaijan SSR, which were later abolished. At present, there is a division for ecology in the department of oil and chemistry at the Cabinet of Ministers of the republic. The department of humanitarian policy deals with environmental issues in the Presidential Administration. Numerous government authorities in the republic have to deal with environmental issues to a certain extent, given the multiple aspects of environmental problems, and that is a major disadvantage, as any distribution of the functions of control over the condition of the nature would be tantamount to managing one and the same organism (nature) from different institutional positions. This, of course, has an impact on the environmental information.
The State Committee for Ecology has been appointed to take the lead in environmental control and management and nature conservation on behalf of the state. However, there is no clear mechanism yet to exercise the powers vested in the Committee, as numerous other agencies are also engaged in departmental control over the environmental conditions.
The State Committee of the Azerbaijan Republic for Hydrometeorology
Established by the presidential decree of 21 January, 1992 to integrate the existing Department for Hydrometeorology, the Baku Branch of the Trans-Caucasian Regional Research Institute, and the Paramilitary Service for the Active Management of Hydrometeorological Processes, this Committee is a central government authority of the Azerbaijan Republic (according to the Regulations approved by resolution 91 of the Cabinet of Ministers of 14ÝFebruary, 1992).
The main tasks of this Committee include: pursuing a consistent policy in the field of hydrometeorology, forecasting hydrometeorological processes, methodology of collecting, processing and dissemination of hydrometeorological information, environmental monitoring, research into the condition of the Caspian Lake; active management of hydrometeorological processes and phenomena; continuous improvement of the system of early warning about dangerous hydrometeorological phenomena or extremely high levels of environmental pollution leading to emergency situations or significant damage; improvement of the quality of observation of hydrometeorological parameters; improvement of the accuracy of long-term and short-term weather forecasts, as well as projections of water content, crop harvests, etc.
The State Committee for Geology and Mineral Resources
As the leading authority in the field of geology and use of mineral resources and raw materials, the Committee ensures implementation of the national policy in this sector and provides co-ordination of geological survey and prospecting in the republic, integrated study of its mineral wealth, deposit exploration and prospecting, etc. The State Committee for Geology exercises government control over geological studies of mineral resources, rational and integrated use of raw materials, making sure that all ministries and agencies in the republic follow the correct methodology, observe the principle of the integrated approach and maintain proper quality of prospecting. It also collects and summarizes geological information in order to assess the projected resources of minerals (according to the Regulations approved by the Cabinet of Ministers on 8 November, 1991, resolution No. 372).
The State Committee for Land Reclamation and Water Management is part of the agro-industrial complex and is responsible for supplying national economy with water. The main tasks of this Committee are: to supply the republicís economy with water; to develop and implement a consistent technical policy of water management, irrigation and reclamation; to manage, plan and distribute water resources among sectors of national economy and regions of the republic, to organize verifiable accounting of water resources and to ensure their rational use based on advanced water-efficient technology and a cost-effective economic mechanism of paid water consumption.
The State Fishery Concern (Azerbalyg) is to implement a consistent technical policy in the area of catching and processing fish, manufacturing fish products, protecting fish resources and reproducing them artificially, regulating fishery, amelioration, etc.
The State Mine Supervision Authority exercises government supervision over the compliance with safety regulations by ministries, enterprises, institutions, organizations and other economic entities using explosive- and fire- hazardous and other potentially harmful equipment, processes and substances in industry, as well as over the compliance with the prescribed procedures of using mineral resources, ensuring integrated resource management in developing mineral deposits. It also supervises the use of depleted workings and natural underground cavities where various business activities could be located, as well as fulfilment by enterprises and organizations of their targets for mineral resource conservation.
The Ministry of Health, through its General Administration for Sanitary- Epidemiological Supervision, runs the sanitary-epidemiological services in the republic using various institutions at the national level:
the Republican Centre for Hygiene and Epidemiology,
the Republican Centre for Disinfection and Sterilization,
the Republican Sanitary Quarantine Inspectorate,
the Republican Health Centre, the Republican AIDS Prevention and Control Centre,
the National Research Institute for Prophylaxis.
These institutions form the infrastructure of the State Sanitary Supervision.
The Ministry of Economics is the central economic body of the republic. It has a department for ecology and nature management that develops long-term projections in the environmental field for the whole of the country and for individual sectors of economy.
The State Committee of the Azerbaijan Republic for Statistics is the main accounting and statistical centre of Azerbaijan. At the end of every half-year and every year, the Committee for Statistics issues bulletins on the progress in implementing environmental measures (construction and commissioning of waste water treatment facilities, gas and dust removal plants, water recirculation systems), on the levels of environmental pollution (atmospheric emissions, waste water discharges into water bodies), on reforestation and new forest planting, on recultivation of disturbed land, on the use of biological methods, etc. The Ministry of Agriculture is the largest agricultural organization using large volumes of water (75 percent) and polluting over 12 percent of the territory with fertilizers and toxic chemicals. The Ministry of Agriculture runs research institutes for plant protection, agricultural ecology, and many others.
The State Committee of the Azerbaijan Republic for Land was established recently in connection with the land reform to make an inventory of land and evaluate land before privatization. Neither of the two agricultural agencies has a department of environmental information.

The Academy of Sciences and the Ministry of Education of the Azerbaijan Republic
The Academy of Sciences is the supreme scientific and research body of the republic. It includes numerous research institutes, some of which work in the field of ecology and environmental protection (the Institute of Geography, the institute of Geology, the Institute of Botany, the Institute of Zoology, the Centre of Microbiology, the Institute of Petrochemical Processes, the Institute of Soil Science, etc.).
The Institutes listed above deal with the problems of protecting the Caspian Lake and its biodiversity, the rivers Kura and Araks, land reclamation and recultivation, etc.
Higher educational institutions, such as Baku State University, Azerbaijan Technical University, Azerbaijan Oil Academy, the medical institute, the agricultural academy, the technological institute, and others, have departments and research laboratories staffed with scholars and experts directly dealing with environmental protection and nature management.

Others Research Institutes
Apart from the institutes of the Academy of Sciences, there is a number of sectoral research institutes in the republic. The State Concern has an institute for natural resource exploration from the outer space, a research institute of ecology and an institute of aerospace information technology. The State Committee for Construction and Architecture has the Vodgeo institute which deals with issues of waste and drinking water treatment, designing of water recirculation systems, etc. The State Committee for Land Reclamation and Water Management operates a water management institute and a research institute for hydraulic engineering and land reclamation. The Azerigas Concern includes an institute for gas transport and cleaning problems, and the Gipromorgas Research Institute. The Azergyzyl State Concern (Azergold) has an institute for the development of environmentally-sound processes for nonferrous and noble metals extraction, whereby these metals can be obtained from low-grade ores and mine wastes using heap leaching methods. The Fishery institute of the Azerbalyg (Azerfish) State Concern studies methods of fish breeding, including the worldís most valuable species, the sturgeon. The institute of forestry of the Azerforest Production Association deals with the problems of reforestation and plant reproduction. The research institute of building materials includes an environmental protection department and a laboratory of mineral raw materials that address the problems of waste recovery, study the mineral resource base for construction and develop environmental protection measures for the industry. All the institutes, both of the Academy of Sciences and sectoral, publish results of their research periodically, in articles, monographs and brochures, and implement them in practice,
Non-Governmental Organizations
There are several non-governmental organizations in the field of environmental protection in Azerbaijan, including the Green Party, the Nature Conservation Society, the Youth Green Movement, the Union of Forests, the Man and Biosphere Society, and others. The main objective of these NGOís is to get the public involved in the common cause of protecting the environment against ill-considered decisions relating to the economic use of natural resources and ecosystems.

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