The UNEP/GRID programme of co-operation with economies in transition
may include three main elements:
integration of environmental issues;
institutional capacity building;
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
is 7.3 million. In the north, Azerbaijan borders on the Dagestan
(the border length is 289 km), in the north-west with the Georgian
(340 km), in the south-west with the Republic of Armenia (766
km). In the
south, Azerbaijanís state border is with the Islamic Republic
(618Ýkm) and the Turkish Republic (11 km).
In the east, the Azerbaijan Republic is washed by the Caspian
coastline is about 825 km long in the republic. The Caspian Lake
an outlet into the River Volga, linking Azerbaijan with Central
Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and, further, with the republics of Central
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
the republic, and 1700 mm at an elevation of 800 m. At the same
are semidesert areas, such as Gobustan, where annual precipitation
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
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.
Changes in emissions of harmful substances from stationary sources (enterprises) are shown below for the years 1986 through 1994:
An abrupt increase in air emissions in 1989 is due to the fact
starting from that year, statistics have been taking into account
air emissions of waste gases, while decreases in 1993 and 1994
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:
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.
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.
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)||204||153.2||156.0||79.9||35.5|
The above table shows that the amounts of wastes generated have
reducing every year, but this has not been achieved through the
introduction of low-waste technologies. Rather, this is the result
decline in industrial output caused by the disruption of economic
enterprises have only been working at 35-40 percent of their full
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 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,
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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