The march of mankind has seen to it that there's not much wilderness left on Earth. 70 per cent of what remains is found in just five countries: Russia, Canada, Australia, Brazil and the United States (thanks almost entirely to Alaska).
Researchers from the University of Queensland (UQ) and the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) have for the first time produced a global map that sets out which countries are responsible for nature that is devoid of heavy industrial activity.
It comes ahead of the conference of parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity in Egypt in November where signatory nations are working towards a plan for the protection of biodiversity beyond 2020.
Conservationists are calling for a mandated target for wilderness conservation that will preserve the planet’s vulnerable ecosystems.Some may have scoffed at the recent report that mankind has now reduced the population of all other terrestrial species by 60 per cent since the 1970s. When you look at that map and see how much wilderness we have eradicated, how much natural habitat we have destroyed for our own use, that figure should not be hard to accept.
The paper comes after the team of scientists produced data in 2016 that charted the planet’s remaining terrestrial wilderness and in 2018 examined which parts of the world’s oceans remained free from the damaging impacts of human activity.
They found that more than 77% of land – excluding Antarctica – and 87% of oceans had been modified by human intervention.
...The researchers say that the planet’s remaining wilderness can be protected “only if it is recognised within international policy frameworks”.
They’re calling for an international target that protects 100% of all remaining intact ecosystems.
“It’s achievable to have a target of 100%,” Watson said. “All nations need to do is stop industry from going into those places.”
He said the five countries responsible for most of the world’s remaining wilderness had to provide leadership and could act to protect these areas through legislation or by offering incentives to businesses that do not erode nature.