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Ecoterrorism is terrorism that ostensibly is motivated by concern for the environment. Ecoterrorism is the use of violence by non-state actors in an effort to protect ecosystems or animals. Some of the philosophies espoused by ecoterrorists are similar to those of radical environmentalism.

It is notable that most national governments do not consider ecoterrorist groups as full-blown terrorists worthy of sanction, although they will pursue prosecution for criminal acts. A notable exception is the French government, which sent commandos to destroy the Greenpeace ship Rainbow Warrior in Auckland harbor.

Ecoterrorism has been on the rise in both Europe and in the United States for the past twenty years; both the United States Federal government and the European Union have shown concern about this issue.


Ecoterrorists often target industrial or agricultural operations which by their nature do damage to the environment, spread pollution or make cruel or inhuman. use of animals. Security guards are often hired to protect these companies from ecoterrorists and should plan for potential ecoterrorist activity.


Typical methods used by ecoterrorists include the use of espionage techniques to gather information about their opposition for revelation to the public and the media. Often sabotage is used against activities which damage the environment, such as spiking trees to deter lumber harvesting. Sometimes ecoterrorist group seek to interfere with research that uses animals by releasing or "rescuing" the animals.

Due to a generalized respect for life (including but not limited to humans), most environmental activists avoid the use of deadly force and assassination, instead using tactics such as chaining themselves to trees, trespassing in restricted or unsafe areas to prevent activities such as nuclear testing, and so on. Although some have described such acts as "terrorism", this use of the word is controversial. Environmentalists suggest an alternative word like "ecotage".

In contrast to such non-violent, non-destructive action, some environmentalists have used tactics including vandalism (for example, of animal testing labs or GM-crops), theft, death threats, assault, attempted murder, and actual murder. As the act increases in violence or destructiveness, the label "ecoterrorism" becomes much less controversial.


Alleged ecoterrorist groups include the Earth Liberation Front, Animal Liberation Front, Revolutionary Cells, and Sea Shepherd. Some organizations also consider Greenpeace a terrorist organization.

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