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The environmental cost of war: how the conflict in Tigray eliminated decades of progress

The Tigray region of Ethiopia has been a leader in environmental progress, making significant strides in conservation, afforestation, and sustainable agriculture. Unfortunately, the recent conflict in the region has brought much of this progress to a halt, causing severe environmental damage and setting back conservation efforts by decades.

The war in Tigray began in November 2020, when the Ethiopian government launched a military offensive against the Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF), which had been in control of the region for decades. The conflict quickly escalated, leading to widespread violence, displacement, and human rights abuses. In addition to the devastating impact on the region's people, the conflict has also taken a significant toll on the environment.

One of the most significant environmental impacts of the war has been the destruction of forests and wildlife habitats. Tigray was known for its vast tracts of forest, which were home to a variety of endangered species, including the Ethiopian wolf and the Gelada baboon. However, much of this forest has been burned or otherwise destroyed during the conflict, leaving these animals without homes or food sources. Additionally, the loss of forest cover will have a significant impact on the local climate, contributing to increased temperatures and decreased rainfall.

The war has also led to a dramatic increase in land degradation and soil erosion. Tigray has long been known for its innovative approach to land management, using practices such as terracing and agroforestry to prevent soil erosion and promote sustainable agriculture. However, the conflict has disrupted these practices, leading to widespread deforestation, overgrazing, and soil depletion. This will have a significant impact on the region's agricultural productivity, which is a critical source of income and food security for local communities.

Furthermore, the war has disrupted critical conservation efforts, including the reintroduction of endangered species and the establishment of protected areas. Tigray was home to several successful conservation projects, including the reintroduction of the Walia ibex, a critically endangered mountain goat. These projects have been disrupted by the conflict, with rangers and conservationists forced to flee the region or unable to continue their work due to the violence and instability.

In conclusion, the war in Tigray has had a catastrophic impact on the environment, wiping out decades of progress in conservation and sustainable land management. The destruction of forests and wildlife habitats, the increase in land degradation and soil erosion, and the disruption of critical conservation efforts will have a long-lasting impact on the region's ecology and the well-being of its people. As the conflict continues, it is essential to prioritize the restoration of the region's environment and the protection of its biodiversity.

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