The last wilderness areas are disappearing at an accelerated pace, warns researchers at the University of Queensland in Australia, calling on the international community to take appropriate action before it is too late.
An international team of researchers from the University of Queensland has mapped all intact ocean ecosystems on our planet as part of a 2016 project to catalog areas of pristine wilderness, says Nature.
James Watson, a professor at the School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, said the new study provided the very first picture of the disappearance of the wilderness on a global scale, giving rise to concerns as for our future.
“A century ago, only 15% of the Earth’s surface was used by humans to grow crops and raise livestock. Nowadays, more than 77% of the land, with the exception of Antarctica, and 87% of the oceans are exposed to the direct impact of human activity “, explains the researcher.
“It may be hard to believe, ” says Dr. Watson, but between 1993 and 2009, a wilderness area larger than India – 3.3 million square kilometers – was lost to because of human activity, primarily agriculture and mining. And in the ocean, the only areas spared by industrial fishing, pollution and shipping are almost entirely confined to the polar regions.”
James R. Allan, a researcher at the University of Queensland, says virgin wilderness can only be protected if its importance is recognized in international politics. “There is currently nothing that forces nations, industry, society or communities to achieve long-term conservation, (…) biodiversity and sustainable development. “
The researchers insist that global policy must be translated into local action.
“One of the most obvious interventions is the creation of protected areas to slow down the effects of industrial activity on the landscape or the sea, ” says Watson.
“We have already lost so much, so we must seize this opportunity to save the very last virgin nature before it vanishes forever. “