Wednesday, 21 November, 2018

Just Five Countries Contain 70% of World’s Last Wilderness, Study Finds

A view of a reflection on Lower Kananaskis Lake in Peter Lougheed Provincial Park in Alberta Canada on      Aug. 8 2018 Just Five Countries Hold Most of the World's Remaining Wilderness, a New Report Says
Cary Marshall | 02 November, 2018, 21:09

"We have lost so much already, so we must grasp this opportunity to secure the last remaining wilderness before it disappears forever".

Postdoctoral Research Fellow James R. Allan, who is also a study author, said the world's remaining wilderness could only be protected if they are clearly defined in national and global policy and if urgent measures are taken to protect them.

To reach their conclusion, the researchers constructed a comprehensive global map of Earth's remaining terrestrial and ocean wilderness areas.

Two years after scientists found that 77 per cent of land - excluding Antarctica - and 87 per cent of oceans had been modified by human intervention, researchers recently found that 70 per cent of the world's remaining untouched wilderness is in just five countries.

"Many wilderness areas are critical sinks for atmospheric carbon dioxide", adds the study.

The global team that constructed the maps excluded Antarctica for the duel reasons that it is not open to direct resource exploitation, and it is much more hard to assess the indirect effects of human activities. "And in the ocean, the only regions that are free of industrial fishing, pollution and shipping are nearly completely confined to the polar regions".

The data excludes untouched wilderness in Antarctica and on the high seas that is not contained within national borders.

Wilderness, the study's authors said, is defined as an area not subject to direct human use.

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Jay Ritchlin, the David Suzuki Foundation's director for Western Canada, said the mapping of remaining wilderness areas is a clear signal for governments to create policies that support people and the environment.

Astonishingly, 94 percent of that space is confined to 20 countries, while the top five (Russia, Canada, Australia, the USA, and Brazil - in that order) possess 70 percent of the world's remaining wilderness. In the latest effort, they looked at the impact of human activities on ocean ecosystems.

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. They also provide increasingly important refuges for species declining in human-dominated landscapes.

"We need the immediate establishment of bold wilderness targets, specifically those aimed at conserving biodiversity, avoiding unsafe climate change and achieving sustainable development".

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.

"It's achievable to have a target of 100%", Watson said. The past decade has witnessed rapid depletion of such wilderness due to climate change and deforestation, a trend that must be reversed to ensure humanity's survival as a species.

The Boreal/Taiga Forest holds one third of the world's terrestrial carbon. They can also establish protected areas to slow the spread of industrial activity into wilderness.

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