|Environmental Impact of Sudden Population Displacements - Expert Consultation on Priority Policy Issues and Humanitarian Aid (European Commission Humanitarian Office, 1995, 28 p.)|
|3. OVERVIEW OF POLICY ISSUES|
The principal issues raised included: (i) the quality of existing data on environmental indicators; (ii) key issues in determining responses to mass displacement (limits imposed by time constraints and settlement size); and (iii) the validity of current hypotheses (how do we estimate population: resource ratios and regulatory mechanisms). The following conclusions were drawn:
First, on the basis of one or more local case studies, it should be possible to identify both detailed evidence of at least short-term environmental change, and the role of social, economic and organisational factors linked to the presence of refugees and refugee assistance programmes in influencing environmental strategies and sustainability. Specific questions might include whether increased population density resulting from the refugees presence has placed excessive pressure on resource management systems, and whether refugees act differently in terms of resource management from local populations, beyond the impact of population density alone;
A second question relates to the longer-term impact of refugees on the environment, and specially the nature of any environmental recovery after refugees return to their home country. Such an analysis is not easy, and would need to be placed in the context of other social, economic, political and environmental processes occurring in the region, especially where the region has been subject to medium-term cycles of environmental or economic change;
A third area of potential research interest concerns the opportunity for a more wide-ranging study of vegetational change in refugee-affected areas bases on analysis of imagery derived from satellite remote sensing or air photographs. Building on climatic, vegetational and other data available through the UNEP/GRID database, it would be possible to establish time series data for a number of individual refugee-affected areas over much of the 1980s.