The forests, wildlife, plants, and vegetation of the Mekong River Basin are under sustained assault. Not from some virulent new fungus or mutant virus. No, the attacker is a man-made pathogen: the inability of the region’s governments to curb the rampant corruption eating away at the legal structure that protects the basin’s ecosystem. Officials of basin governments are being paid to condone logging in conservation zones, to issue export permits for protected flora and fauna, and to otherwise flaunt laws meant to prevent an environmental catastrophe. No other ecosystem is under such deadly assault, and unless the trend is arrested, the World Wildlife Fund predicts that within 20 years the region, twice the size of California and rivaled only by the Amazon for biological diversity, could lose more than a third of its remaining forests along with the exotic plants and wildlife that inhabit them.
The six governments of the region – Cambodia, China, Lao PDR, Myanmar, Thailand, and Vietnam – have declared war on environmental corruption and have begun counterattacking. Environmental protection laws are being tweaked, and investigators and prosecutors trained to detect and prosecute environmental crime. But important though these steps are, in the face of impending ecological disaster more firepower is needed. Here are four ways to step up the fight: Continue reading