Peace dividend

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Science  27 Apr 2018:
Vol. 360, Issue 6387, pp. 368-373
DOI: 10.1126/science.360.6387.368

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For decades, much of Colombia was occupied by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), a leftist guerrilla group that had waged war on the Colombian state since 1964. The threat of violence and kidnapping severely limited where scientists could study, and where they could go for fieldwork. That all changed with a stroke of a pen on 26 September 2016, when Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos signed a peace deal with the FARC. Guerrilla fighters shuttered their jungle camps and handed over their weapons. Now, Colombian scientists are rushing in, exploring the geology of their country, its wealth of species, and how its ecosystems are coping with stresses such as deforestation and climate change. Those forays are risky: Vast areas haven't yet been cleared of land mines, and drug traffickers, paramilitary groups, and non-FARC armed insurgents plague the countryside. But the researchers are seduced by the prospect of prying scientific secrets from huge swaths of land that are no longer off-limits.

  • * Reporting for this story was supported by the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting.