Mexico´s State of the Environment Report 2008 is an important element of the National System of Environmental Information and Natural Resources (SNIARN, in Spanish), which constitutes the most relevant source of governmental information on the environment and the natural resources in the country. The Report is organized in seven chapters including the factors affecting the environment, the state of their biotic and abiotic elements and the governmental responses directed to recover and stop degradation of national ecosystems.
In the first Chapter, demographic trends and socioeconomic characteristics of the Mexican population are examined. In addition, this section includes an analysis of the relationship amongst population, economy, and the environment. The Chapter 2 describes the situation and land use of the national terrestrial ecosystems, including the processes promoting the land use change (e. g., deforestation, vegetation cover degradation and its conversion to agricultural and farming lands). Last section exposes the governmental actions directed into the conservation, sustainable use, and recovering of national terrestrial ecosystems.
Soils and their degradation processes are the main themes in the Chapter 3. Besides a brief description of the soils and their existences in the country, it also includes information about the existing national evaluations on soil degradation, the most important processes degrading soils and their causal factors. At the end of the chapter, desertification of fragile regions, specifically in the arid and semiarid zones, is exposed, including some achievements in the soil management.
Chapter 4 covers the state of Mexican biodiversity and its more relevant threats, revised from the ecosystem and species perspective. It explains the relevance of the environmental services derived from biodiversity and the most important strategies implemented to protect our great biological richness.
Air quality, climate change and ozone layer depletion are discussed in Chapter 5. It describes the atmospheric contaminant emissions and their relationship with air quality in urban zones with monitoring along the country. This chapter also includes the causes, consequences, and the governmental actions implemented to take action against climate change and ozone layer depletion problems.
The Mexico's water situation is discussed from the availability and quality perspectives in Chapter 6. It examines the drinking water and sewerage coverage and the wastewater treatment infrastructure. For first time the Report also includes the environmental perspective of water, i.e. the importance of aquatic ecosystems -including marine and freshwater- to guarantee the supply of goods and services they provide. The human activities affecting these ecosystems and the instruments designed to protect them are also mentioned.
Finally, Chapter 7 covers the environmental issues related with urban solid wastes, wastes requiring special management and hazardous wastes. This analysis considers the whole life cycle of wastes, i.e. from its generation to their handling and final disposal.
This Report has included, whenever possible, a temporal perspective of the different themes. This feature gives the reader the opportunity of more wide temporal scale. Besides the temporal scale, in some relevant cases international information has been considered. As in previous reports, a series of Boxes have been included along the texts, which deepen or provide more information about a specific issue. Those texts could be omitted without any effect in the lecture in virtue they were conceived for a public with particular interests.
For those interested in environmental statistics, some paragraphs include references to the Environmental Statistical Compendium –marked in blue letters- and the Environmental Performance and Key Indicator Sets –cited in text as IB or IC in bold format, respectively-. It must be mentioned that tables and indicator factual sheets are available just in Spanish.
The main objective behind this significant effort of compilation and integration of environmental information is our interest for this Report can be useful to support the decision makers and society to achieve an integral perspective of the Mexican environment. We hope all information contained here, as well as in the SNIARN´s Compendium and Indicator Sets can be helpful to scientists and people interested in the environment to make important contributions in benefit of the Mexican environment.