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|
Northern Arizona University