Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Global analysis finds nearly half the Earth is still wilderness

04.12.2002


Many areas, including North America’s deserts, under severe threat

According to the most comprehensive global analysis ever conducted, wilderness areas still cover close to half the Earth’s land, but contain only a tiny percentage of the world’s population. More than 200 international scientists contributed to the analysis, which will be published in the book, Wilderness: Earth’s Last Wild Places, (University of Chicago Press, 2003).

The 37 wilderness areas identified in the book represent 46 percent of the Earth’s land surface, but are occupied by just 2.4 percent of the world’s population, excluding urban centers. Nine of the wilderness areas fall, at least in part, within the United States.



Although the wilderness areas are still largely intact, they are increasingly threatened by population growth, encroaching agriculture and resource extraction activities. Barely 7 percent of the areas currently enjoy some form of protection.

Nineteen of the wilderness areas have remarkably low population densities – an average of less than one person per square kilometer. Excluding urban centers, these 19 areas represent 38 percent of the Earth’s land surface, but hold only 0.7 percent of the planet’s population.

"These very low density areas represent a landmass equivalent to the six largest countries on Earth combined – Russia, Canada, China, the United States, Brazil and Australia – but have within them the population of only three large cities, a truly remarkable finding," said co-author Russell Mittermeier, President of Conservation International. "It’s good news that we still have these large tracts of land largely intact and uninhabited, but these areas are increasingly under threat."

The large-format, 576-page book depicts rare species and remarkable places in more than 500 breathtaking color photographs that accompany detailed information regarding the habitat, species and cultural diversity of each wilderness area. The analysis was mainly carried out over the past two years by Conservation International’s Center for Applied Biodiversity Science with support from the Global Conservation Fund.

The wilderness areas include several diverse habitats, ranging from Southern Africa’s Miombo-Mopane Woodlands, with the world’s largest remaining population of African elephants, to the Sonoran and Baja Californian Deserts of Arizona, California and Mexico, with their Gila woodpeckers and giant cacti, to Amazonia’s rainforests, teeming with biodiversity including 30,000 endemic plant species and 122 endemic primate species and subspecies.

To qualify as "wilderness," an area has 70 percent or more of its original vegetation intact, covers at least 10,000 square kilometers (3,861 square miles) and most have fewer than five people per square kilometer.

"Wilderness areas are major storehouses of biodiversity, but just as importantly, they provide critical ecosystem services to the planet, including watershed maintenance, pollination and carbon sequestration," said Gustavo Fonseca, Executive Director of CI’s Center for Applied Biodiversity Science. "As international debates on climate change and water security continue, these wilderness areas take on even greater importance."

Only five wilderness areas are considered "high-biodiversity wilderness areas," because they contain at least 1,500 endemic vascular plant species, meaning they are found nowhere else in the world. The five areas are Amazonia, the Congo Forests of Central Africa, New Guinea, the North American Deserts and the Miombo-Mopane Woodlands and Grasslands of Southern Africa.

"These wilderness areas are important for any global strategy of protecting biodiversity, since we have the opportunity to save large tracts of land at relatively low costs," said Peter Seligmann, CI’s Chairman and CEO. "The areas are also critical for Earth’s remaining indigenous groups, which often want to protect their traditional ways of life from the unwanted by-products of modern society."

"As striking as these wilderness numbers are, they only serve to underscore more than ever the critical importance of protecting the biodiversity hotspots, areas which represent only 1.4 percent of the Earth’s landmass but contain more than 60 percent of its terrestrial species," said Mittermeier. "If we are to succeed as conservationists, we have to take a two-pronged approach of protecting the biodiversity hotspots and high-biodiversity wilderness areas simultaneously."

The book is the result of collaboration between Conservation International and Agrupación Sierra Madre, and is published by CEMEX, a Mexican company that also published the first two books in this series, Megadiversity and Hotspots.

Wilderness: Earth’s Last Wild Places is now available through Conservation International (www.conservation.org). The University of Chicago Press will accept pre-orders beginning in December (www.press.uchicago.edu), and the book will be available in bookstores in Spring, 2003.


Conservation International (CI) applies innovations in science, economics, policy and community participation to protect the Earth’s richest regions of plant and animal diversity in the hotspots, major tropical wilderness areas and key marine ecosystems. With headquarters in Washington, D.C., CI works in more than 30 countries on four continents. For more information about CI’s programs, visit www.conservation.org.

Also Available: Images, b-roll, maps, interviews, and specific information about each wilderness area available upon request.

About the Authors:

Dr. Russell Mittermeier, a world-renowned primatologist, is the president of Consevation International. Cristina Goettsch Mittermeier is a marine biologist and professional photographer. Patricio Robles Gil is president of Agrupación Sierra Madre. Dr. Gustavo Fonseca is the Executive Director of the Center for Applied Biodiversity Science at Conservation International. Dr. Thomas Brooks heads CI’s Conservation Synthesis Department. John Pilgrim is a Biodiversity Analyst with CI, and William Konstant is Director of Special Programs in the President’s Office at CI.
--------------------------------------
The 37 wilderness areas organized by continent:
(Areas within the US are denoted by *.)


NORTH AMERICA
Appalachian Mountains* (See note.)
The Arctic Tundra*
The Boreal Forest*
The Greater Chihuahuan Desert*
The Colorado Plateau*
The Mojave Desert*
Pacific Coastal Forests of Alaska & Canada*
Northern Rocky Mountains*
The Sonoran and Baja Californian Deserts*

SOUTH AMERICA
Amazonia
Bañados del Este
Caatinga
The Gran Chaco
Coastal Deserts of Peru and Chile
The Llanos
The Pantanal
Patagonia
Magellanic Subpolar Rainforests


AFRICA
The Congo Forests of Central Africa
Kalahari
Miombo-Mopane Woodlands and Grasslands
The Namib Desert
The Okavango
The Sahara/Sahel
The Serengeti
The Sudd

ASIA
The Arabian Deserts
The Arctic Tundra*
The Boreal Forest*
Central Asian Deserts
The Sundarbans


OCEANIA
Arnhem Land
Australian Deserts
Cape York Peninsula
Kimberley
New Guinea
Tasmania


ANTARCTICA
Antarctica

EUROPE
The Arctic Tundra*
The Boreal Forest*
European Mountains (See note.)

Note: The Appalachians and European Mountains are included in the book for comparative purposes, although their human population densities and remaining intact habitat do not meet the criteria for wilderness.

Brad Phillips | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.conservation.org/

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Upcycling 'fast fashion' to reduce waste and pollution
03.04.2017 | American Chemical Society

nachricht Litter is present throughout the world’s oceans: 1,220 species affected
27.03.2017 | Alfred-Wegener-Institut, Helmholtz-Zentrum für Polar- und Meeresforschung

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Making lightweight construction suitable for series production

More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.

Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...

Im Focus: Wonder material? Novel nanotube structure strengthens thin films for flexible electronics

Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.

"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...

Im Focus: Deep inside Galaxy M87

The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.

Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...

Im Focus: A Quantum Low Pass for Photons

Physicists in Garching observe novel quantum effect that limits the number of emitted photons.

The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...

Im Focus: Microprocessors based on a layer of just three atoms

Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.

Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Expert meeting “Health Business Connect” will connect international medical technology companies

20.04.2017 | Event News

Wenn der Computer das Gehirn austrickst

18.04.2017 | Event News

7th International Conference on Crystalline Silicon Photovoltaics in Freiburg on April 3-5, 2017

03.04.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

NASA's Fermi catches gamma-ray flashes from tropical storms

25.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Researchers invent process to make sustainable rubber, plastics

25.04.2017 | Materials Sciences

Transfecting cells gently – the LZH presents a GNOME prototype at the Labvolution 2017

25.04.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>