World’s Last Wilderness Areas May Vanish Soon..

World’s Last Wilderness Areas May Vanish Soon..

World’s Last Wilderness Areas May Vanish Soon..

Researchers warn that world's last wilderness is rapidly disappearing.

Owing to huge global population and increasing human activities, the world's remaining wilderness areas - regions where the lands are in their natural state - are rapidly disappearing, with explicit worldwide conservation targets critically needed, new research says. Researchers from the University of Queensland recently mapped ocean ecosystems that have remained unchanged, complementing a 2016 project charting remaining terrestrial wilderness.

It found that 77 per cent of land and 87 per cent of the ocean has already been damaged by human activities.

The study follows an alarming report from the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), which estimated that human activity has decimated wildlife population by 60% in the past four decades. Regardless of where they are - from the lowland rainforests of Papua New Guinea, to the high taiga forests of Russia's Arctic, to the vast deserts of inland Australia, to the great mixing zones of the Pacific, Antarctic and Indian Oceans - these areas are the last strongholds for endangered species, and perform vital functions such as storing carbon, and buffering us against the effects of climate change.

As for the ocean, the only areas that are free of industrial fishing, pollution and shipping are nearly completely confined to the polar regions, say the authors.

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More than 70% of remaining wilderness is in just five countries: Australia, Russia, Canada, the United States (Alaska), and Brazil.

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

True wild spaces - land and sea areas mostly unaffected by mankind's explosive expansion and insatiable appetite for food and natural resources - now cover just a quarter of the planet.

Astonishingly, 94 percent of that space is confined to 20 countries, while the top five (Russia, Canada, Australia, the United States, and Brazil - in that order) possess 70 percent of the world's remaining wilderness.

For oceans, they used data on fishing, industrial shipping and fertiliser run-off to determine that just 13 percent of the planet's seas bore little or no hallmarks of human activity. They also provide increasingly important refuges for species declining in human-dominated landscapes.

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

"It's achievable to have a target of 100%", Watson said.

Most scientists and conservationists agree that no place on earth is completely untouched by humanity, either due to past occupation or through global processes like climate change, but in a wilderness area, human impact is still minimal.

Said John Robinson, WCS Executive Vice President for Global Conservation at WCS and a co-author of the paper: "Wilderness will only be secured globally if these nations take a leadership role".

The Boreal/Taiga Forest holds one third of the world's terrestrial carbon.

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In addition, wilderness areas are also places where enormous amounts of carbon is stored and sequestered with intact ecosystems being at least twice important than similar degraded habitats when it comes carbon mitigation.

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