War can be hell on the environment, but in the case of Afghanistan, no one knows just how hellish. Under the auspices of the United Nations, five teams of foreign and local scientists are examining the impact of almost 30 years of fighting on the country’s natural resources. By December, the teams hope to identify urban pollution hotspots and immediate and long-term threats to vulnerable areas. They also hope to generate ideas for restoring sites where damage has occurred and to train Afghan experts to carry out environmental work in the future. According to former Finnish Environment Minister Pekka Haavisto, who is chairing the U.N. effort, less than 1 percent of Afghanistan’s land is currently protected. He said that deforestation (some 30 percent of the country’s forests have been lost since 1979) and threats to biodiversity were among the scientists’ top concerns.