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Restoration in Conflict Zones

Conflict, war, strife – human discord has many names and faces. All of these are usually ugly and leave behind a trail of subsequent human fatalities and suffering. No one wins when growing conflict goes unresolved.

Often unmentioned in the vast lists of casualties is the environment and ecology in which the conflict took place. Some of the worst victims of such human troubles include the land, plant, and animal life in these conflict zones.

Sadly however, as direct, human-restorative efforts often take place in post-conflict times, environmentally restorative pro-activity does not typically parallel. In the times after conflict, there is often much damage to clean-up and much work necessary to beginning rebuilding efforts. Often too, strained resources, strained affiliations, and disorganization accompany these times. If environmental needs are not an absolute bearing on direct human needs, they will probably take a long time, if ever, to be addressed.

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All hope is not lost though. There have been a number of direct human efforts to restore the natural environs of previous conflict zones. These efforts have come with immediacy and great delay - great backing and few supporters - by private groups and government agenda. Some examples of past, shining, environmentally-restorative efforts include:

- “Agent Orange” cleanup in Vietnam. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/09/agent-orange-vietnam-cleanup_n_1759641.html

- WWII munitions site remediations. http://www.warhistoryonline.com/war-articles/operation-salam.html

- Post-WWII, Japanese environmental restorations. http://www.treedazzled.com/treedazzled/2007/03/restoration_of_.html

- The Edgewood Warehouse Project. http://www.dec.ny.gov/chemical/46734.html

- Bradley AFB Soil Cleanup. http://articles.courant.com/1994-03-28/news/9403280429_1_defense-environmental-restoration-program-cleanup-underground-fuel-storage-tanks

- Iraq’s Mesopotamian Marshlands. http://blog.acton.org/archives/1419-the-desert-blooms-environmental-restoration-in-post-saddam-iraq.html

Each of these examples highlights a different side of the damages inflicted by conflict on the environment. From nuclear fallout and radiation, to the intentional desertification of wetlands, these are some of the tolls of human strife on the environment. Each of these examples also highlights an acknowledgement of such environmental losses and the act of trying to restore them to the un-molested state.

We can only hope for less strife and discord in years to come. If there must be issue, let it be confined to a small area, precision aggressions, and void of large-scale impact. If there are environmental impacts, let the restorative response to the conflict-zone be swift and proportionate to the damages done. In the end, human conflict and environmental interests never coincide. 

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