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How do biologists respond to low-intensity armed conflicts? The case of Bangladesh (1961–2011)

Irfanullah, Haseeb MD.
International journal of environmental studies 2012 v.69 no.4 pp. 654-667
biodiversity, biologists, researchers, surveys, Bangladesh
Armed conflict affects the biological diversity and biological research regime of a country. This paper takes a low-intensity armed conflict in the biologically and ethnically diverse Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) of Bangladesh, as an example, and assesses the response of biologists to this conflict. The study spans the last 50 years dividing it into three periods: pre-conflict (1961−1974), conflict (1975–1997) and post-conflict (1998–2011). Interactions with selected researchers and a literature survey showed that sporadic, intermittent biological research was conducted in this region even during the conflict. The number of research initiatives substantially increased and became more diverse over the last decade. Research opportunity has increased mainly because of improved security and accessibility. Nevertheless, despite the research capacity and a positive attitude among the researchers, some fundamental issues still limit long-term research in this area. The continuing volatile situation due to slow implementation of the 1997 Peace Accord and the tension between rebel factions and indigenous and settler communities in some areas continue to be serious concerns for studying and conserving the biodiversity of this region. Innovative research approaches and the full implementation of the peace agreement are vital to improving the situation for biological research in the CHT. The paper underlines the importance of a biologist’s self-motivation to respond to low-intensity armed conflicts.