Environmental activists sometimes put themselves in harm’s way to protect natural resources, and according to a new report from Global Witness the number of people killed defending the natural world has almost doubled over the last three years. The figures were published in a report called A Hidden Crisis?, which noted that over the past decade, 711 people have been killed “defending the rights of land and forests” in the ever-growing competition for natural resources. If these results are accurate, that means that more than one environmentalist is killed per week. What is even more shocking is that in 2011 alone, the death toll was 106 people.

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The report warns that of “a hidden crisis” in environmental protection and highlights “a pervasive culture of impunity around such violence, a lack of information, reporting or monitoring of the problem at national and international levels, and the involvement of governments and the domestic and foreign private sector in many killings.” It’s important to note however that the figures published may also be inaccurate due to the lack of international monitoring, but instead of being an over-estimate, the death toll may be a gross underestimate of the extent of the problem.

In a press statement from Global Witness, campaigner Billy Kyte said: “This trend points to the increasingly fierce global battle for resources, and represents the sharpest of wake-up calls for delegates in Rio. Over one person a week is being murdered for defending rights to forests and land.”

The report will be a blow to Brazil, which is currently hosting the Rio+20 Conference as the highest number of killings were found in that country as well as Colombia, the Philippines and Peru. What was also noted was that in Cambodia, DRC and Indonesia, many of the killings were linked to the domestic and foreign private sector involvement where many companies are increasing their investments in mining, logging and controversial hydropower initiatives.

“Governments must ensure that citizens with concerns over how land and forest are managed can speak out without fear of persecution and that investment projects and land and forest deals are open and fair. This means seeking free, prior and informed consent from affected communities before deals are approved,” Global Witness noted. “It has never been more important to protect the environment and it has never been more deadly”.

+ Global Witness

via Fox News

Images:  lesanta,  Greenpeace Finland,  D.C.Atty