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Study finds most wars occur in Earth's richest biological regions
Date:2/20/2009

other cases, the collateral damage of war harmed both the biological wealth of the region and the ability of people to live off of it.

In addition, war refugees must hunt, gather firewood or build encampments to survive, increasing the pressure on local resources. More weapons means increased hunting for bush meat and widespread poaching that can decimate wildlife populations such as 95 percent of the hippopotamus slaughtered in DRC's Virunga National Park.

"The consequences extend far beyond the actual fighting," said lead author Thor Hanson of the University of Idaho. "War preparations and lingering post-conflict activities also have important implications for biodiversity hotspots and the people who live there."

In total, the hotspots are home to a majority of the world's 1.2 billion poorest people who rely on the resources and services provided by natural ecosystems for their daily survival. Environmental concerns tend to recede or collapse in times of social disruption, and conservation activities often get suspended during active conflicts. At the same time, war provides occasional conservation opportunities, such as the creation of "Peace Parks" along contested borders.

"The fact that so many conflicts have occurred in areas of high biodiversity loss and natural resource degradation warrants much further investigation as to the underlying causes, and strongly highlights the importance of these areas for global security," Mittermeier said.

The study concluded that international conservation groups and indeed the broader international community must develop and maintain programs in war-torn regions if they are to be effective in conserving global biodiversity and keeping ecosystems healthy. It also called for integrating conservation strategies and principles into military, reconstruction and humanitarian programs in the world's conflict zones.

"We encourage support for local conservationists and protec
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Contact: Tom Cohen
tcohen@conservation.org
703-341-2729
Conservation International
Source:Eurekalert

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