Nature in a Globalised World: Conflict & Conservation

Context

  • Recently, IUCN has published a report Nature in a Globalised World: Conflict & Conservation’.

  • The report is the 1st in IUCN’s Nature in a globalised world report series. It examines the close relation between the environment and armed conflict, warning that human violence and unrest were taking a huge toll on nature. 

Key Findings of Nature in a Globalised World

  • Civil unrest and military exercises pose high risk to 219 Endangered Species (out of 30, 178 species assessed as threatened on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species)
  • While this is only a fraction of the more than 30,000 animal and plant species listed as threatened on IUCN’s Red List, the report stressed it included “iconic species”.

    Nature in a Globalised World
    Source: The Hindu

  • Notable among them are the Critically-endangered Eastern Gorilla & Elephant populations.
  • The report states that armed conflicts were particularly prevalent in some of the world’s most bio-diverse regions.
  • The risks created due to civil unrest, war are ‘direct killing, killed for target practice & sometimes for food’. However, the biggest threat to the species was the undermining of conservation efforts.
  • The report points out several instances in the past, during which animal species suffered from conflicts:
    • During the 1994 War in Rwanda – 90% of large mammals in the Akagera National Park were killed for food
      or trade.
    • The conflicts in Sudan resulted in deaths of around 2, 000 elephants in 2007 alone.
    • The acceleration of extinction of Javan Rhinoceros due to the Vietnam War.
  • The report states that armed conflicts are most likely to erupt where there is less productive agricultural land, and where droughts are frequent.

‘Environmental war crimes’

  • Today, there are more than 7,000 such events each year, mainly in sub-Saharan Africa and in West and South Asia.
  • “As environmental degradation and climate change intensify, it is becoming increasingly important to factor in the links between conflict and nature when formulating security, development and environmental policy,
  • The report meanwhile found that conflicts were less frequent within the boundaries of natural reserves and other protected areas.
  • Such areas cover an estimated 15% of land, but overlap with only three percent of the armed conflict events analysed by the report.

Conclusion

  • Conservation, sustainable and equitable management of nature plays an important role in preventing conflict and in rebuilding peace, It supports livelihoods and well-being of indigenous and local communities in times of peace and helps reduce the risk of conflicts breaking out.
  • The report listed policy recommendations to mitigate and prevent armed conflict, including establishing safeguards for staff in protected areas, environmental defenders and other conservationists.
  • It also called for “sanctions against those who commit environmental war crimes”.

Source: The Hindu


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