‘Bogota greenest city in Latin America’

Bogota is Latin America’s greenest city, claims the Colombian capital’s Tourism Department, based on an environmental study.

According to figures released by Bogota’s Environmental Secretary, Bogota has seen environmental improvements in air quality, water supplies and urban trees, along with a reduction in wildlife trafficking over the four-year period from 2008-2011.

The figures released by the Mayor’s Office highlight in particular a reduction in air contamination in Bogota across the four-year period.

The report states that dust, soot, and smoke from diesel vehicles dropped from 71.6 mg/m3 in 2008 to 51.5 mg/m3 in 2011, representing a 28% reduction. This was reflected in a 93% reduction in the number of days that exceeded the permitted limit of 150 mg/m3 from such pollutants, which dropped from 75 days in 2007 to only 5 in 2011.

According to Juan Antonio Nieto Escalante, Bogota’s Environmental Secretary across the four-year period of the last administration, these developments were made possible by an agreement signed with Ecopetrol, Colombia’s state-run petroleum company, that significantly improved the quality of the company’s diesel. The improvements were further aided by several environmental projects initiated by the Mayor’s Office, with the collaboration of some 700 companies.

Figures supporting health benefits resulting from the improvements in air quality indicate a 23% reduction in the mortality rate from acute respitory infections in children under five from 2007 to 2010.

Improvements to the city’s water supplies were also reflected in health statistics. According to test results, 11.4 km of Bogata’s four urban rivers — the Tunjuelo, Salitre, Fucha and Torca — showed an improvement in water quality. This was reflected in the mortality rate from acute diarrheal illness in children under five dropping from 3.1 per 100,000 in 2007, to 1 per 100,000 in 2010.

Regarding urban vegetation, the city’s botanical garden planted 80,000 new trees between 2008 and 2011, adding to the 1,066,463 trees already in Bogota’s public spaces. Figures indicate that tree coverage in the capital has increased by 71.4 hectares since 2008. According to Escalante, “In addition, the environmental sector performed maintenance on over 725,000 trees, and held workshops with the community and tree adoption days.”

Lastly, the number of illegally-owned animals recovered by authorities dropped from 5622 in 2007 to 3184 in 2010, a reduction of 43%. Bogota’s Wildlife Reception Centre treated 11,879 victims of animal trafficking, of which 3850 were returned to the wild.

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