Arlington, Virginia (Feb. 20, 2009) In a startling result, a new study published by the scientific journal Conservation Biology found that more than 80 percent of the world's major armed conflicts from 1950-2000 occurred in regions identified as the most biologically diverse and threatened places on Earth.
Titled "Warfare in Biodiversity Hotspots," the study by leading international conservation scientists compared major conflict zones with the Earth's 34 biodiversity hotspots identified by Conservation International (CI). The hotspots (www.biodiversityhotspots.org) are considered top conservation priorities because they contain the entire populations of more than half of all plant species and at least 42 percent of all vertebrates, and are highly threatened.
"This astounding conclusion that the richest storehouses of life on Earth are also the regions of the most human conflict tells us that these areas are essential for both biodiversity conservation and human well-being," said Russell A. Mittermeier, president of Conservation International (CI) and an author of the study. "Millions of the world's poorest people live in hotspots and depend on healthy ecosystems for their survival, so there is a moral obligation as well as political and social responsibility - to protect these places and all the resources and services they provide."
The study found that more than 90 percent of major armed conflicts defined as those resulting in more than 1,000 deaths occurred in countries that contain one of the 34 biodiversity hotspots, while 81 percent took place within specific hotspots. A total of 23 hotspots experienced warfare over the half-century studied.
Examples of the nature-conflict connection include the Vietnam War, when poisonous Agent Orange destroyed forest cover and coastal mangroves, and timber harvesting that funded war chests in Liberia, Cambodia and Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). In those and countless
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