“Agribusiness and oil, gas and mining have consistently been the biggest drivers of attacks against land and environmental defenders,” said Global Witness campaigner Rachel Cox.
“They are also the industries pushing us further into runaway climate change through deforestation and increased carbon emissions.”
Burning forests not only robs the planet of greenhouse gas absorbing vegetation, it also releases stored CO2 into the atmosphere.
Logging operations were directly linked to 24 deaths, with another 14 related to illegal crop substitution, 11 to land reform, and six to water management or dam construction.
In the Philippines, a Manobo tribal chieftain was killed during a military bombardment while protesting rogue mining operations near Kitaotao, in northern Mindanao.
“The Philippines’ remaining virgin forests — like those protected by the Manobo — are being felled for mineral extraction and profit,” the report noted.
“This is ‘business as usual’ for President Rodrigo Duterte and his government who are forging ahead with policies that prioritize fossil fuels and have passed draconian laws that can be used to silence those trying to stand in their way.”
The number of killings in Colombia more than doubled last year, while in Honduras they rose from four to 14.
The tropics and developing countries are not the only hotspots for violent attacks against those protecting natural resources.