War zones also biodiversity hot spots

Most of the wars in recent decades have occurred in places that shelter some of the world’s most biologically diverse and environmentally threatened wildlife, Reuters reported, citing a study in the journal Conservation Biology. From 1950 to 2000, the study found, 81% of major conflicts occurred in 34 regions known as biodiversity hot spots.


These hot spots contain the entire populations of more than half of all plant species, according to the study by the environmental organisation Conservation International (CI), and at least 42% of all vertebrates. Twenty-three of the 34 hot spots experienced war in the second half of the 20th century.


The conflicts include the Vietnam war, in which the use of the defoliant Agent Orange destroyed forest cover, the study said, as well as timber harvesting that financed wars in Liberia, Cambodia and the Democratic Republic of Congo. More than 90% of major wars — those resulting in more than 1,000 deaths — occurred in countries that contain one of the 34 identified hot spots.


These areas often are located in poor countries with dense populations, which are under pressure in normal times, Russell Mittermeier, CI’s president, told Reuters. Refugees from conflicts in and around biodiversity hot spots can add to the problem, he said, by hunting for food, cutting trees for firewood and building camps in endangered environments.


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