Green militarization


Arriving at a national park to a military welcome is not something we expected, but maybe there should have been a clue in the label of 'protected areas'.

Santa Teresa National Park in Uruguay is home to a retired military fort, and is a treasured member of the newly formed national park system. SNAP (Sistema nacional de áreas naturales protegidas de Uruguay - National system of protected areas in Uruguay) established in 2000, was initially slow to get going due to the economic crisis, but has since begun to gather momentum.

A military reception at Fortaleza de Santa Teresa

The military greeting did bring to mind to idea of green militarization - a concept that refers to "the use of military and paramilitary personnel, training, technologies, and partnerships in the pursuit of conservation efforts" (Lunstrum, 2014). The most striking example of this is highlighted by Büscher (2015) in his study of rhino-poaching in South Africa.

Digital technology undoubtedly plays a role in this militarization movement, with drones currently being a key player in both sides' arsenal. It is a protection-poacher arms race that is evolving at a rapid pace.
The greenhouse bursting with native and non-native species Uruguay's national parks may not currently face the same pressures as those in South Africa, but maybe they a subtle component of a growing movement where valued spaces are afforded protection in the most literal militant form.