The many civil wars in tropical countries bleed them of resources which might otherwise be used to improve the standard of living or for conservation. Wars also frequently result in a breakdown of civil authority and even governments. The last thing of interest in a country involved in a foreign or civil war is environmental protection. In many countries, wars have been disastrous for reserves and other protected areas; habitat is destroyed and species (particularly large animals) become extinct in battle and refugee areas because of hunting pressures. This has occurred particularly in Africa, where many civil wars have raged in rainforest areas – in Zimbabwe, Uganda, Mozambique, Rwanda, Burundi and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Similar wars have occurred in East Timor and parts of the Philippines, and another has been simmering for years in the province of Aceh in northern Sumatra. And the drug wars in South America – Colombia, Ecuador, Peru – often involve forested areas. Frequently guerrilla fighting occurs in forests, or anti-government forces establish camps in the forest, using it for survival, and often hunting animals to local extinction. Skirmishes between rival groups disrupt agriculture and animal husbandry, leading people to exploit the jungle for survival. Civilians in contested areas will often leave their villages and hide in the forest, where to survive they must hunt for plants and animals. The recent involvement of civilians in wars has thus been very destructive of forest well-being in unsettled countries.

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