The poacher-as-terrorist; the ‘benefit’ of seeing nature conservation as a security issue

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Author: Bente Meindertsma for Vice Versa

The perception of environmental problems as security issues gave rise to a powerful, but false idea that poaching is financing terrorist organizations like Al-Shabaab. The poacher-as-terrorist is extremely beneficial to conservation NGO’s, as it gives them access to the large budget that is available for security initiatives. However, their militarized approach is marginalizing local communities and is failing to protect wildlife on the long term. Read more

Why resource extraction and nature conservation lead to increasing conflict and violence

Author: Bente Meindertsma for Vice Versa

We seem to have entered a new phase in the relation between violence and environment. Increasing violence against wildlife and communities living in protected areas and conflicts over access to natural resources have led scientists in the field of political ecology to discuss the causes and impacts of these dynamics at the PE-3C conference in Wageningen.

2015 was the deadliest year ever for environmental activists, according to a recent report by human rights NGO Global Witness. 185 people were killed, an increase of 59% compared to the previous year. The report shows how deeply environmental issues are intertwined with political struggle, conflict and the uneven distribution of power. The scientific field of political ecology focusses on just that, by studying how different interests, forms of power and politics influence and frame our relationship to environmental issues and access to natural resources. At the recent Political Ecology conference in Wageningen (PE-3C), more than 350 scientists and activists came together to discuss the political ecologies of conflict, capitalism and contestation. Read more