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Diverging forest land use dynamics induced by armed conflict across the tropics


Landholm,  David M.
Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research;


Pradhan,  Prajal
Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research;


Kropp,  Jürgen P.
Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research;

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Landholm, D. M., Pradhan, P., Kropp, J. P. (2019): Diverging forest land use dynamics induced by armed conflict across the tropics. - Global Environmental Change, 56, 86-94.

Cite as: https://publications.pik-potsdam.de/pubman/item/item_23149
Armed conflicts trigger region-specific mechanisms that affect land use change. Deforestation is presented as one of the most common negative environmental impacts resulting from armed conflicts, with relevant consequences in terms of greenhouse gas emissions and loss of ecosystem services. However, the impact of armed conflict on forests is complex and may simultaneously lead to positive and negative environmental outcomes, i.e. forest regrowth and deforestation, in different regions even within a country. We investigate the impact that armed conflict exerted over forest dynamics at different spatial scales in Colombia and for the global tropics during the period 1992–2015. Through the analysis of its internally displaced population (departures) our results suggest that, albeit finding forest regrowth in some municipalities, the Colombian conflict predominantly exerted a negative impact on its forests. A further examination of georeferenced fighting locations in Colombia and across the globe shows that conflict areas were 8 and 4 times more likely to undergo deforestation, respectively, in the following years in relation to average deforestation rates. This study represents a municipality level, long-term spatial analysis of the diverging effects the Colombian conflict exerted over its forest dynamics over two distinct periods of increasing and decreasing conflict intensity. Moreover, it presents the first quantified estimate of conflict's negative impact on forest ecosystems across the globe. The relationship between armed conflict and land use change is of global relevance given the recent increase of armed conflicts across the world and the importance of a possible exacerbation of armed conflicts and migration as climate change impacts increase.