The toll of environmental activism

There is always a price to pay and ‘nothing worth fighting for comes easy’, least of all the fight to save our ‘pale blue dot’. Its well known that the costs for sustaining our way of life takes a massive toll on the planet. In the meantime, some of the environmental activists who fight to save it unfortunately sometimes pay the ultimate price.

According to Global Witness, a UK based watchdog on human rights and the environment, has found that Environmental Activism is more dangerous than ever. Further this does not only occur in remote areas for example where jungle meets pasture e.g. for beef or agriculture in the Amazon, but also in more developed countries like the UK.

Please also read: Wildlife is losing the fight

Most dangerous environmental activism

Many of the victims of environmental activism are indigenous peoples in less developed countries (e.g. Brazil and Honduras) and are usually being the leaders of the local community. Typically these leaders rise to fight for the environment because they are fighting for what is theirs; as it becomes endangered from the increasingly deeper reach of the global market. Powerhouse companies which constitute the global market grasp for local resources, gouging out small communities that stand in their way. This clash is one that the little David cannot win; especially in the isolated frontiers were lawlessness can be rife. Here environmental activists often pay the ultimate price, as they are murdered in an attempt to quash any resistance to a profit margin. This is the reality that befell José “Zé Cláudio” Ribeiro da Silva and Maria do Espírito Santo; from Scott Wallace’s insightful publication in the Smithsonian Magazine.

Finally, Global Witness estimates that 3 environmental activists a week were killed on average in 2018. These individuals were protesting and defending their land and the environment from extractive industries such as mining and logging.

European Rangers

Meanwhile cases may not be as severe here in Europe, we still face many problems. Vast swathes of forest are cut down using the excuse of trying to curb bark beetle to rivers being dammed across the Balkans. Recently a dedicated Wilderness advocate, Mr. Vano Kupradze, and ranger at Borjomi-Kharagauli National Park lost his life fighting wildfires at the National Park. The price for rangers is high in a physically demanding and strenuous job, on average one ranger dies every 3 to 4 days. The European Wilderness Society supports the Wilderness rangers where we can. You can read more about how we help our Wilderness rangers here.

Please also read this: On Dangerous Grounds

Update 04/11- Indigenous leader killed

In the beginning of November the unfortunate news of yet another killing happened. A leader and member of the “Forest Guardians” was shot and killed while another was shot in the back but was able to flee. Part of Guajarara, an indigenous tribe, who fight to protect their forest but are regularly threatened and attacked by loggers who are trying to take their lands.

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