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When traveling, and many of us do it especially in the summer, it is possible to witness environmental crimes, maybe related to illegal trafficking in wild plants and animals. To tell the truth, one can come across such crimes even at home, looking for an animal to adopt or in other circumstances, given that they are rather widespread crimes.
The money they create has a substantial volume of 23 billion dollars. Nobody asks us to be heroes, but it is very important that this type of crime be reported to the police who will be able to investigate, ascertain the crime and punish. We can do our part by not being silent, to live quietly, and today there are simple and effective ways to report environmental crimes: we have no excuse to shrug our shoulders and turn away.
Environmental crimes: what they are
Before we find out how to act and report these crimes, let's review. Today they are classified as environmental crimes, or crimes against the environment, all those crimes that are perpetrated against nature. They can be done by individuals, but also by criminal organizations, in fact, the mafia often finances itself also through this type of crime. The crimes can be acts that damage the environment, but also omissions, they can concern, for example, theair pollution or of the soil and subsoil, others are instead within the waste management.
For some years there has also been a lot of talk about ecomafia. It is a neologism that we have been forced to coin - it did Legambiente - to indicate the illegal activities of criminal organizations, of the mafia type, which cause damage to the environment. The eco-mafias are "sector" mafias, specialized in the traffic and illegal disposal of waste.
Environmental crimes: how to report them
Among the environmental crimes, as we have mentioned, there is also the trafficking of wild species, flora and fauna on which someone illegally speculates. Don't necessarily imagine an elephant traveling by plane or a strange tree boarded on a ship illegally, because even a "simple" and apparently harmless necklace, a souvenir of a holiday in Africa, could be in ivory, therefore the result of the act of a poacher. Even in the restaurant, we can find suspicious names on the menu, of local specialties which, in addition to being original, are also prohibited.
To report this type of crime, today there is a very convenient app - Wildlife Witness - created specifically to help tourists report the crimes they witness while traveling abroad. It was created by an important association committed to combating the illegal trade in animals and plants, Traffic, and with a few moves all of us can report the exact day, time and place where the alleged crime took place, and the species involved.
A beautiful initiative that puts innovation and new technologies at the service of protecting the environment. Other ecological organizations had a similar idea, which in 2014 created an online platform, not an app, however, to anonymously report crimes against wildlife and created forests. The name is also similar - WildLeaks - and the goal was to provide a way to make a complaint even to those who wanted to remain anonymous.
Around the world, especially in the countries most affected by this type of crime, we can find similar initiatives, for example in China, Vietnam, South East Asia and even Canada. On the one hand, it is important that these apps are known all over the world and spread across borders, but it must also be taken into account that in most cases environmental regulations they vary nationally if not regionally. A single app could not manage the specifications of each area concerned.
Environmental crimes: numbers
By reading this article, with directions for witnesses of environmental crimes, it is easy to think that it could happen to others and not to us, but just take a look at the numbers that describe the phenomenon to change your mind. These are very common crimes, it would not be so strange to cross one, even if you deal with something else in life.
According to the latest report on Legambiente's eco-mafias, in Italy i environmental crimes they generate business, and how: they have a turnover of over 14 billion euros. A worrying year was 2017, where there were several records, and 2018 saw no major setbacks. The most frequent crimes, at least among those reported or identified, are those concerning the illicit waste trafficking and building abuses, to follow but more and more frequent, those committed in agri-food sector and to the detriment of biodiversity.
In the future, it seems that on some institutional sites we will have the possibility to report crimes against our Italian heritage through an online form on the sites of Ispra and Arpa. Anyone who lives or is in Puglia and sees something suspicious can already count on the Rangers of Italy, recognized by the Ministry of the Environment, who have created an app for reporting: "Ecoreati Puglia".