Conflicts & Disaster Recovery

When catastrophe strikes—war, famine, storm, plague, drought, tsunami—natural resources upon which entire communities rely can be destroyed, degraded, plundered, or washed away. Without crops and livestock, people turn to wildlife for food. Without homes, they cut down trees for warmth and shelter. During violent conflicts, displaced persons must take what they need to survive—thoughts of protecting resources for the future are a low priority. But after the armies disperse, the rains fall, or the waves calm, opportunities for rebuilding and growth return.

WCS conservationists often find themselves on the frontlines of natural and human-fueled disasters. They survey wildlife populations and ecological conditions before and after emergencies. WCS research has helped influence national government policies, guided immediate relief efforts, and helped communities rebuild and wildlife rebound under new governments in new national parks. Occasionally, warfare has forced our field scientists out of study areas. Upon returning, they have found devastated wildlife populations, but sometimes, miraculous wildlife survival. This was the case with the world’s second largest wildlife migration remaining intact in war-torn Southern Sudan.

WCS Projects

Afghanistan's First National Park

Despite three decades of warfare, Afghanistan gazetted its first national park on Earth Day 2009. WCS field scientists conducted wildlife surveys, delineated the park’s boundaries, and helped the government develop Band-e-Amir’s management plan, hire and train its rangers, and design new laws for the national park’s creation.

Post-tsunami Coral Recovery in Aceh

The 2004 tsunami in the Indian Ocean damaged coral reefs, which provided food and livelihoods to the communities hit hardest by the disaster. In the years that followed, WCS scientists examined how the reefs were recovering and developed a conservation model balancing the needs of local fisheries and coral ecosystems.

From the Newsroom

Gorillas, Not Grenades: Conservation as DiplomacyNovember 23, 2011

In conflict and post-conflict areas, conservation can play a key role in diplomacy by increasing stability and providing economic opportunities.

A Bridge to Hope in AfghanistanMarch 31, 2011

WCS researchers discover the world’s 12th largest natural bridge in a remote region of Afghanistan. The stone arch serves as a reminder of the war-torn country’s many wonders.

New Park for AfghanistanApril 22, 2009

Afghanistan has announced some rare good news: the establishment of its first national park. The park, known as Band-e-Amir, will protect one of the country’s best-known natural areas.

A Coral ComebackDecember 29, 2008

A combination of improved management and natural regeneration is helping corals stage a rapid comeback in Indonesia following the December 2004 tsunami.

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