Navigation Links
Forests in Central America paying the price of drug trafficking shift
Date:1/30/2014

A group of researchers focused on sustainable practices, geography and earth sciences found something unexpected during their work in Central America: the effects of drug trafficking are leaving deep scars on a sensitive landscape.

They call the phenomenon "narco-deforestation," and the result is every bit as dark as it sounds.

"Not only are societies being ripped apart, but forests are being ripped apart," said Erik Nielsen, assistant professor in the School of Earth Sciences and Environmental Sustainability at Northern Arizona University.

As Nielsen and his colleagues point out in a policy paper published in Science, drug traffickers are slashing down forests, often within protected areas, to carve clandestine landing strips and roads, and to establish cattle ranches through which drug money can be laundered.

The researchers hope the United States and other countries in the region will "rethink drug policy with a bright light on the unintended consequences on conservation," Nielsen said. As they state in the paper, drug policy should be seen as conservation policy.

Nielsen said these conclusions resulted from numerous individual lines of inquiry that converged "serendipitously" when he and his colleagues began noticing the same disturbing trend at multiple sites in Guatemala and Honduras. Nielsen and his team were working to understand the effects of forest carbon offset programs on community-based conservation and the feasibility of reducing deforestation at the local level.

"Around 2007, we started to see this pretty amazing uptick in deforestation in communities where I've been doing research for a long time," Nielsen said. "We started asking, 'What's going on here?' The presence of narco-traffickers was the response."

Nielsen explained that the "cat-and-mouse" game of interdiction and evasion has been pushing traffickers into more remote areas. At a higher policy level, as trafficking was squeezed out of Mexico and the Caribbean, "then we really started seeing the impact in Central America."

The value of landscapes being ravaged should not be underestimated, Nielsen said, pointing out that deforestation is affecting conservation of the globally significant Mesoamerican Biological Corridor. He called biosphere reserves in the area "equal to the Grand Canyon in terms of how the international community looks at their cultural and biological values. There is going to be a long-term consequence."

While Nielsen acknowledged that he and his colleagues are not drug policy experts, they hope their message will influence those who are, including leaders of governments seeking to determine how to proceed in the oft-criticized war on drugs.

"However that discussion takes place, conservation should be a major factor in how we think about drug policy," Nielsen said.

As Nielsen's own research moves forward, he hopes to acquire "more spatially explicit data that the military has about drug movements. Then we can analyze the temporal and spatial relationship between trafficking nodes and deforestation."

Nielsen said he and Ophelia Wang, a geographer and spatial analyst with NAU's Landscape Conservation Initiative, and Spencer Plumb, Nielsen's former master's student now in a Ph.D. program at the University of Idaho, will continue to investigate with the other Science paper contributors.


'/>"/>

Contact: Eric Dieterle
eric.dieterle@nau.edu
928-523-9230
Northern Arizona University
Source:Eurekalert  

Related biology news :

1. Forests as Capital: International Society of Tropical Foresters Annual Conference in New Haven
2. Rainforests in Far East shaped by humans for the last 11,000 years
3. Tropical forests mitigate extreme weather events
4. Young tropical forests contribute little to biodiversity conservation
5. Development near Oregon, Washington public forests
6. Carbon storage recovers faster than plant biodiversity in re-growing tropical forests
7. Heavily logged forests still valuable for tropical wildlife
8. An unprecedented threat to Perus cloud forests
9. Climate change may speed up forests life cycles
10. 400-year study finds Northeast forests resilient, changing
11. Red cedar tree study shows that Clean Air Act is reducing pollution, improving forests
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
Related Image:
Forests in Central America paying the price of drug trafficking shift
(Date:5/16/2017)... , May 16, 2017  Veratad Technologies, LLC ( ... online age and identity verification solutions, announced today they ... Conference 2017, May 15 thru May 17, 2017, in ... and International Trade Center. Identity impacts ... and in today,s quickly evolving digital world, defining identity ...
(Date:5/6/2017)... SINGAPORE , May 5, 2017 ... has just announced a new breakthrough in biometric ... that exploits quantum mechanical properties to perform ... new smart semiconductor material created by Ram Group ... across finance, entertainment, transportation, supply chains and security. ...
(Date:4/19/2017)... The global military biometrics market ... by the presence of several large global players. The ... major players - 3M Cogent, NEC Corporation, M2SYS Technology, ... 61% of the global military biometric market in 2016. ... military biometrics market boast global presence, which has catapulted ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:10/10/2017)... , ... October 10, 2017 , ... San Diego-based team ... its corporate rebranding initiative announced today. The bold new look is part of ... the company moves into a significant growth period. , It will also expand its ...
(Date:10/10/2017)... Calif. , Oct. 10, 2017 SomaGenics ... from the NIH to develop RealSeq®-SC (Single Cell), expected ... for profiling small RNAs (including microRNAs) from single cells ... Program highlights the need to accelerate development of approaches ... "New techniques for measuring levels ...
(Date:10/9/2017)... ... ... At its national board meeting in North Carolina, ARCS® Foundation President ... and Astronomy, has been selected for membership in ARCS Alumni Hall of Fame ... Prize in Fundamental physics for the discovery of the accelerating expansion of the universe, ...
(Date:10/7/2017)... WALTHAM, Mass. , Oct. 6, 2017 /PRNewswire/ ... pioneering work of three scientists, Jacques Dubochet, ... whose breakthrough developments in cryo-electron microscopy ... this technology within the structural biology community. The ... Scientific. Scientists can now routinely produce highly resolved, ...
Breaking Biology Technology: