Nicaragua is undergoing the most severe environmental crisis in its recent history, a group of 15 non-governmental organizations said during the presentation of a report coinciding with Earth Day.
The drastic reduction or disappearance of 34 rivers, the near-complete evaporation of at least four lakes, the loss of nearly 6,000 hectares (14,815 acres) of pine forest, reduced rainfall and the advance of the agricultural frontier are some of the challenges Nicaragua faces, the NGOs said in their "Nicaraguan Socio-Environmental Crisis: Post-2016 Drought" report.
"We're facing the most profound environmental crisis in recent history. The situation proves that we're not doing things well at all in the country," Victor Campos, the director of one of the NGOs, the Humboldt Center, said at a press conference Friday.
Among the repercussions of the crisis, the NGO's pointed to water scarcity in 48 percent of rural communities, the lack of water infiltration in northern areas that depend on surface sources and the risk of flooding in cities of the Pacific watershed.
The report mentions the loss of forest in 12 protected areas and notes that the Bosawas and Sureste de Nicaragua biosphere reserves, which are among Central America's largest, lost 297,607 hectares (1,150 sq. miles) of forest between 2011 and 2016.
It also points to the near-total evaporation of the Tisma and Moyua wetland areas, located in Nicaragua's Pacific and northern regions, respectively, as well as of the Nejapa lake in the Pacific region and Las Canoas lake in the country's north.
The NGO's urged the government to enforce existing laws and lead initiatives to protect the environment, while also calling on the population to denounce those who commit infractions.