no surprise, but the people who defend them have been increasingly getting killed as well
Deadliest year ever for environmental activism
More than three people were killed each week on average in 2015 trying to protect the environment from industrial activities, according to a new report published Monday (June 20, 2016).
The 185 reported deaths worldwide last year represents a 59 percent increase from 2014. The deadliest countries for environmental activists were Brazil, the Philippines and Columbia, with 50, 33 and 26 deaths respectively.
Almost all of the deaths were the result of people trying to defend their land from extractors of commodities such as mining, timber and palm oil.
Billy Kyte, a campaigner with Global Witness - the organization that compiled the report - says the rise is due to increasing demand for raw materials worldwide. As commodity prices fall, companies are taking greater risks to secure larger profits, encroaching into ever more remote areas that were previously out of reach - with cooperation of governments.
"More and more countries are encroaching on previously untouched areas rich in resources," Kyte told DW. "Projects are being increasingly built on contested land, much of it where indigenous communities reside."
Indigenous people made up almost 40 percent of victims last year, according to the group's figures.
Much of the extractive activity is illegal, Kyte says, done by companies who hire paramilitary groups to drive out indigenous populations. Those who resist, or who organize demonstratons against the activity, can become targets.
"The majority of these people are just ordinary citizens who become activists because they hear a chainsaw in their forest, and they ask questions about who's doing this," says Kyte.