It is easy to see how primitive warfare might sometimes have beneficial environmental effects; it is not clear how they could amount to a cause of primitive warfare.
I will assume you want help understanding the statement. A paraphrase:
It is possible that primitive warfare sometimes has benefits for the environment; that is not hard to imagine; but what is not clear is how those environmental benefits could cause primitive societies to engage in warfare.
The sentence is silent on whether primitive warfare refers to the warfare of current-day primitive societies or of those primitive societies from the distant past, or both. It is a generalization.
amount to a cause ... means something like "could be so compelling a motive that primitive societies would intentionally go to war for that purpose, or unintentionally by virtue of being motivated by environmental forces they did not understand or even recognize."
The sentence is questioning how the environmental benefits of war could produce war.