In the rural areas of West Africa, where the ongoing rosewood trade has been heaviest, more than 90% of the population depends on farming for survival. The forests where this species is being harvested produce and store over 90% of regional rainfall. Their role in water recycling for local distribution is higher than that of the Amazon and the forests of North America. Illegal logging has increased tenfold in the last five years, and is destroying entire ecosystems and food security across the region.
Since 2016 Mother Nature Cambodia has been fighting to Save the Mangrove Forest. Despite intimidation and criminalisation of the Mother Nature activists, we achieved a ban on sand exports, and ended the dredging that destroyed fisheries – reducing catch by 70-90%. With our Mother Nature activist allies N1M is spearheading the campaign to Save Sesan River. Over a hundred indigenous and Khmer families are refusing to leave their ancestral lands – they are demanding an end to the intimidation and threats that they face. N1M provides support to defenders across Cambodia holding events and trainings, and investigates human rights abuses connected to environmental destruction.
Free Mother Nature
Globally four environmental defenders are killed each week. Where are defenders most at risk? And which sectors pose the greatest threat? We aim to use big data on killings of defenders to identify global trends, and to create an early warning system: a map of hotspots showing where defenders need our support – before the situation becomes deadly. This project is in development. N1M is partnering with the Basque Centre for Climate Change (BC3), and the Environmental Change Institute, University of Oxford to bring strong, innovative analytic expertise to the question of why environmental defenders are being killed, and where they are most at risk – to proactively prevent attacks.
In 2015–2017 Brazil has had by far the highest number of murders of defenders globally. The States of Pará and Maranhão are amongst the most violent. The needs of defenders, the daily challenges and risks they face, are not widely understood; defenders are isolated; the security support needed is not available, or is reactive. Furthermore, strategies to deter attacks are urgently needed. Legal strategies can interrupt the culture of impunity and address the transnational drivers of violence, in support of those who protect land, forests and water resources. This strategy has been developed with defenders in direct response to their urgent needs, and stems from the priorities identified in the 2017 Forest Defenders Conference.