The environment in Kazakhstan is very vulnerable.Steppes, semi-deserts and deserts form the territory of the Republic. There exist unique inward-continental seas and lakes, such as the Caspian Sea, the Aral Sea, Balkhash Lake, Zaisan Lake, and Alakol Lake.
As a result of anthropogenic impacts on the natural environment of Kazakhstan an ability to ensure future economic and social development has been violated practically on the entire territory of country.
Extensive development of agricultural production has left a legacy in the form of land degradation
and the impoverishment of landscapes. 60 % of the countries territory is subject to desertification bringing about a reduction in soil fertility and, leading to a reduction in the efficiency of stock-breeding and plant growth. Due to over 40 years of use of plowed virgin and fallow lands, as a result of wind and water erosion 1.2 billion tons of humus have been lost.
Intensive and irrational development of irrigated farming, as well as the regulation of runoff in arid climatic conditions has brought about the hard deficit of water in basins of small and large rivers, such as the Ili, the Syrdaria, the Ishim and others.
The Aral Sea disappeared before the eyes of one generation. A similar catastrophe can happen to Balkhash Lake. While the need for water in the Republic is 100 cubic kilometers per annum, the existing supply forms 34.6 cubic kilometers. By water supply per capita Kazakhstan occupies the last place amongst CIS countries.
Annually more than 200 million cubic meters of polluted wastewater are discharged into surface reservoirs. More than 3 thousand sources of pollution of underground water, an area that forms several to hundreds of square kilometers has been revealed in the Republic.
Most of the enterprises of the processing and energy complexes have imperfect technology, are outdated and physically worn out, promoting an increase in harmful emissions. In the early 90-s nearly 6 million tons of pollutants (50%- heat power, 20% ferrous metallurgy, 13% - non-ferrous metallurgy, 4% - chemistry and oil chemistry) were emitted into the air annually. Areas of dangerous air pollution coincide with places of concentrated habitation. In Karagandy and Pavlodar oblasts there are respectively 10.5 and 7.7 tons of pollution for each inhabitant of emissions per annum.
As a result of activity of enterprises of the mining-metallurgical complex more than 20 billion tons of industrial waste have accumulated on the territory of Kazakhstan, with an annual generation of nearly 1 billion tons. 95 % out of the total volume of extracted ore falls into the waste, frequently exceedingly toxic one and placed in places inadequate for storage. The annual volume of generation of toxic waste in the Republic forms 84.4 million, out of them 63% - waste of non-ferrous metallurgy. These are concentrated mainly in the following oblasts: Karagandy oblast – 29.4%, East-Kazakhstan oblast – 25.7%, Kostanai oblast – 17%, Pavlodar oblast– 14.6%.
The oil and gas industry occupies the first place among the branches of industry by volumes of investments. Despite this fact, in the main regions of oil and gas extraction and oil refinery - in Atyrau and Mangystau oblasts, work is carried out with the use of backward technologies and outdated equipment bringing about accidents and leakages of oil. As a result the total area, occupied by oil pollution in West Kazakhstan, forms 194 thousand hectares, and the volume of spilt oil forms more than 5 million tons.
The practice of burning associated gas in flares also inflicts significant ecological and economic damage. The increased heat background and oxidation of components of the environment around deposits and the combustion of gas have negative impacts on soil, vegetation, and the animal world adjoining to oil complexes areas, making increasing contributions to the greenhouse effect. Irrevocable losses of gas form more than 740 million cubic meters per annum. There is therefore a dependency of increased morbidity of population in the area of Tengyz oil and gas deposits (more than 6 times higher than regional indices) on pollution of atmospheric air with dioxides of sulphur and nitrogen.
As a result of raising the level of the Caspian Sea more than 200 oil wells and oilfields have became flooded, including the largest ones – Kalamkas and Karazhanbas this is a threat not only for biological diversity (in the Caspian Sea 90% of sturgeon fish of the world reserves, a great amount of ornithological fauna types, and Endemic – the Caspian seal are concentrated), but for the whole environmental system of the Caspian Sea as well. For the last 10 years the commercial fish catch has reduced10 times.
The enormous territory of Kazakhstan has been damaged by the activity at military testing sites and by cosmic launches. For a period between 1949 and 1991 at the Semipalatinsk Nuclear Testing Site 470 nuclear explosions took place . It is impossible to count exactly the number of people who died; the number of irradiated people has reached half a million. On the territory of the former Semipalatinsk Nuclear Testing Site nearly 2 million hectares of agricultural land has suffered from radioactive contamination.
The poorcondition of forests, occupying only 3% of the territory of the country, and being a place of habitation of the most valuable and rare types of animals, and 90% types of high plants known in the Republic, causes particular concern. Enormous damage to the forest resources is inflicted by fires – only in 1997 forest on areas of more than 200 thousand hectares has burned.(don’t understand the meaning of this sentyence)
Intensive pollution of air, water and soil, degradation of the animal and vegetable world, and the depletion of natural resources have resulted in the destruction of ecosystems, desertification, and considerable losses of biological and landscape diversity, growth of population morbidity and mortality rate. Lowering quality of life and unsustainable development of the Republic are the consequences of such changes. At the same time the government expenditures on environmental protection are the lowest ones in the Euro-Asian countries. They make up not more than 0.5 USD per person per year.
The environmental management
is administered by the RK Government through its central executive bodies, such as the Ministry of Environmental Protection, the Ministry of Economy and Budgeting, the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources, the Ministry of Agriculture and the Agency for Land Resource Management. The national and local governments set out the procedures for environmental protection and use, fix the resource use fees, regulate the activities of the natural resource users in accordance with the law and work on biological resource reproduction.