Bolivia – How Being Landlocked Hinders Development

Much of Bolivia’s trade passes through Chile, and the deals between them cannot reduce the distance between the Bolivian cities and their historic coastline. This would not be an impediment to the Bolivian economy if trade could flow freely, but it cannot.

Most of the world’s 45 landlocked countries are poor. Of the 15 lowest scoring countries by the Human Development Index, 8 are landlocked; all of these are within Africa. Landlocked areas within large countries- the PRC being a good example of this- are normally far less developed and far poorer. Even within countries with access to coastline throughout, areas closer to more heavily used ports are more developed- as shown in the difference between areas like Lincolnshire and Yorkshire vs Kent and Surrey within the UK.

Even compared to countries with similar climates and histories, landlocked countries have still lagged behind in development; the GDP difference between two such countries can be as high as 40%.

Some landlocked countries have managed to develop strong economies- such as Switzerland. Switzerland’s main industry is banking, which requires no transport, so their geographical location does not matter to their economy. Most of Switzerland’s physical exports are small and expensive. Countries like Botswana (which is still an LIC) rely on diamonds, which can be flown, as opposed to shipped, equally. No landlocked countries cannot readjust to neighbour richer countries, or choose to have diamonds, so many landlocked countries are stuck in a bad position for their own development.

Landlocked countries are seen as unreliable by businesses, as transit states can interfere. A strike by Chilean officials in 2013 caused a 20km long line of lorries in Bolivia; this is an especially great risk in Africa, where civil strife is more common, so trade routes often have to be adjusted. Businesses need to be more heavily stocked so that they can cope with the unpredictable situation more easily.

International agreements promise all countries will have access to the sea, but goods still have to be moved to the coastline through other states, and responsibility relies on the government of the states that good travel through.  Border officials in both the source country and the transit country often accept or demand bribes, and cause further delays. Lorries travelling to poor, landlocked countries can end up travelling at half the speed of lorries in neighbouring maritime countries.

Landlocked countries generally attracted fewer entrepreneurs from other countries, and thus fewer ideas that could then develop the economy further; some economists calculate that Bolivia’s GDP may be up to 20% larger if it were not landlocked.

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European Ski Tourism

Europe’s mountains make popular touristic destinations. The Alps receive 100 million tourists annually; some areas have 80% of their jobs reliant on tourism.

Environmental impacts

  • Construction of ski pistes and other features cause damage to the environment
  • Skiing removes habitats and removes natural protection against avalanches and degrades the natural landscape
  • Most visitors travel in by car, so exhaust fumes lead to further forest damage and air pollution
  • Air travelers to the region can cause more harm by emission at high altitude
  • Skiers can damage trees by knocking off branches and killing shoots underneath the snow
  • Littering
  • Forest clearance has led to an increase in the incidence of avalanches.. Over 100 km^2 of forest has been removed throughout the alps.
  • New resort construction means that slopes have to be bulldozed, blasted and reshaped, increasing slope instability and the rate of avalanches.
  • Water pollution has increased. Chemicals used for preparing 36 glaciers for skiing have increased nitrogen and phosphorus levels in drinking water
  • Sewage disposal creates an engineering challenge
  • The increasing popularity has created a demand for larger accommodation blocks to be built in popular resorts. Limited space on the valley floor, forces more development to occur on surrounding hillsides.

In 1954 there were 200 ski installations and in 1990 there were 2000.

Zermatt

There are 313km of marked pistes in Zermatt and Cervinia. To support skiers, there is a one cog railway, an underground funicular railway, nine cable cars, five gondola-lifts, eight chair-lifts and nine drag-lifts. Due to this usage, environmental management of these slopes is very important.

In 20002, Zermatt Mountain Cableways (ZMC) appointed a party composed of environmental and planning firms to work out an overall plan for “sustainable skiing areas around Zermatt”.

Damage inventory

Tourist developments have previously left masses of waste behind on the mountains. IN 2002, the ZMC made an inventory of the leftover remains. By the end of 2004, half of the damage they prioritised to repair had been. In 2005, the route of a lift for snowboarders, the Blattenlift, was restored by landscaping to make the area appear more natural.

Protection of forests and wild game

In 2003, the ZMC collaborated with various conservationists to draw up a forest wild game protection programme to aid conditions for wildlife in the winter. Segregated conservation areas were fenced off from ski routes and marked with notices. Game observation points were made off the normal pathways allowing animals to be watched with minimal disturbance to them. An information campaign has been made to make visitors and locals more sensitive to the needs of the wildife. Off route skiing can be fatal to wildlife.

A dry-stone wall has been built at Lower Schwarzee to protect marginal vegetation from being trodden on and contaminated.

Restoring nature

A restoration project took place in the Gant region in 2005. A large number of ski routes were restored.

Replanting

Replanting damaged areas on high ground can be very difficult. It is essential to reduce erosion caused by afforestation- afforestation in mountainous environments can increase the rates of avalanches and landslides. By sowing seeds and bringing in young plants, the group covered holes in the vegetation to help secure the slopes.

Monitoring building works

All building work, and replanting of areas is monitored by scientifically trained specialists. Buildings have to comply with environmental legislation, aiming to work long term with consideration for conservation and the environment.

Environmental education

ZMC is placing emphasis on communicating the importance of the local ecology. Information boards have been placed through the Schwarzee Nature Conservation Area (SNCA). In 2005, a glacier path was opened so visitors could see the Gant-Findel glacier region’s glaciers.

Europe’s Mountains and Permafrost

Switzerland’s alps have a temperature range of 25 degrees celsius to 2 degrees celsius in the valleys.

Switzerland has specially adapted plants related to its climate. The plants generally have:

  • Bright pigments to protect from UV radiation
  • Bright colours to attract pollinating insects
  • Hairs on their leaves to reduce transpiration and water loss
  • Waxy coatings to reduce water loss
  • The ability to store water

They also:

  • Grow close to rocks to avoid trampling
  • Grow close to the gtound to reduce water loss due to lower wond speeds at ground level.

As forests die away when altitude increases, roots cannot hold the system in place, so avalanches become more prevalent.

 

Permafrost throughout Europe is melting and threatening alpine facilities, such as villages and ski resorts. Temperatures within a borehole within St Moritz mountain have been shown to have risen by 0.5 degrees since 2000, which may not sound like a lot, but as the internal tempertures were -2 degrees Celsius it could easily lead to the loss of the ice upon it.

The Permafrost and Climate in Europe organisation (PACE) was set up to monitor the effects of climate upon the alps. Permafrost exists as far south as the Sierra Nevada mountains in Spain. In Sweden permafrost can be found at an altitude of just 1500m.  In Svalbard, Ice has been found at sea level.

Ranges being monitored include:

  • Pyrenes; Spain, Andorra, France
  • Jotunheimen range; Norway
  • Abisko range; Sweden.

In Svalbard boreholes have been dug into the ice where coal is mined out if the permafrost. The mine buildings have been built from frozen steel. However, this causes issues as the bases of the building can melt ice and permafrost. Thus the buildings could cause subsidance if enough melting occured.

Subsidance could also be an issue in the higher ski resorts where foundations of ski liffs and other buildings; they have been built with the assumption that the ground will remain stable.