A new report has found that in the previous two decades, we have lost a tenth of the globe’s wilderness, thanks a lot in no small part to mining, agriculture, illegal cutting, and oil and gas exploration. And that means since 1993, a region twice the size of Alaska has been cleared from the plant and animal species that depend on it, and wilds are now just 23% of Earth’s entire land mass. The international team of researchers behind the study says, "The nonstop loss of wilderness areas is a globally important problem with largely irreversible results for both humans and nature. If these movements continue, there could be no worldwide significant wilderness regions left in less than a century."
The scientists found that the Amazon and Central Africa have been toughest hit when it comes to decreasing wilderness, defined as biologically and ecologically complete landscapes that are commonly free of human disturbance.
The researchers specify, "These regions do not discount people, as many are in fact critical to definite communities, including native people. Rather, they have lesser levels of impacts from the kinds of human uses that result in important biophysical disturbance to natural environments, such as large scale land change, industrial activity, or infrastructure expansion."
Since 1993, 3.3 million square kilometers of wilderness has been lost, the Amazon accounted for almost a third, while a further 14% was lost from Central Africa. The scientists concluded that 30.1 million square km of wilderness was left, which is equal to less than a quarter of the planet's entire land mass. And what’s possibly most upsetting is the fact that wilderness is being ruined at a faster rate than we are establishing protected regions. In the same era of time that we lost 3.3 million square kilometers, new assets totaled 2.5 million square kilometers.
James Watson says, "The amount of wilderness loss in just 2 decades is astounding and very upsetting" one of the team member , from the University of Queensland in Australia and the Wildlife Conservation Society in New york.
"You cannot reestablish wilderness. Once it is gone, the natural processes that support these ecosystems are gone, and it never comes back to the form it was. The only choice is to proactively guard what is left."
Map screening the remaining wilderness regions in green and the losses over the last two decades in red. Dark gray shows protected areas like national parks. Watson et al
The team discovered that the mainstream of the wilderness left on Earth was situated in North America, North Asia, North Africa, and the Australian continent, and said what's hopeful is the fact that the majority of wilderness, 82.3%, or 25.2 million square kilometers, is still composed of massive, uninterrupted regions of at least 10,000 square kilometers. If the lasting wilderness was fragmented into far smaller areas, we would be in a far more terrible situation than we are in right now, because smaller parts are not only harder to sustain, under 10,000 square kilometers, it is almost impossible to get a correct reading on the ecological communities existing. The team mentions two examples of preservation efforts that should make an actual difference in the future.
They mention Brazil's AmazonRegion Protected Areas (ARPA) program, whose objectives is to establish new protected regions and maintainable natural resource management reserves and is projected to transport IT to Colombia and Peru. The Canadian Boreal Forest Conservation Agenda (CBFCA) has also been recommended as one of the finest wilderness conservation programs in the world, with the goal of guarding at least 50% of the Boreal in a network of large organized protected areas and maintainable communities. But eventually, the positive measures are too insufficient and far between, and the scientists conclude that if current movements continue, there could be no globally important wilderness areas left in less than a century.
Watson says, "If we do not act soon, it will be all gone, and this is a tragedy for conservation, for climate change, and for some of the weakest human communities on the planet. We have a duty to act for our children and their children."
Let's dream Proxima b has a lot of trees...