Eco-activists ranging from campaigners, community leaders and journalists are dying at a rate of one person per week according to a recent study of 2011 deaths conducted by the group Global Witness.
The largest number of eco-activist deaths occur in Brazil where more than 365 eco-defenders have been killed in the last decade.
Brazil is host to the Rio+20 conference on sustainable development and that group has called on world leaders to set up systems to monitor and counter rising violence which often happens at the foreign corporate and governmental levels.
According to Billy Kyte, campaigner at Global Witness:
“This trend points to the increasingly fierce global battle for resources, and represents the sharpest of wake-up calls for delegates in Rio.”
Global Witness admits that its results are incomplete and focused on certain countries which means the death toll is likely much higher because of cross-border conflicts for natural resources and fighting over oil and gas.
In Brazil where almost half of all eco-activist killings occur most are connected to illegal forest clearance by loggers and farmers. On a positive note, Brazil in 2011 was one of the few countries that actually witnessed a decline in eco-activism related murders.
Unlike many countries the deaths of eco-activists are well documents in Brazil where civil groups, media organizations and even church groups often report on the deaths of eco-activists.
While eco-activist based deaths are increasing in some countries, media efforts have also begun to increase in an attempt to isolate those issues through public action, although those entities still have a long way to go.