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

Mindy Sparks
November 2, 2018

"A few countries own a lot of this untouched land and they have a massive responsibility to keep the last of the wild".

Just five countries hold 70% of the world's remaining untouched wilderness areas and urgent worldwide action is needed to protect them, according to new research.

A team of experts recently mapped intact ocean ecosystems, complementing a 2016 project charting remaining terrestrial wilderness.

The researchers discovered that 77 percent of Earth's landmass, and 87 percent of its oceans had been modified by the direct effects of human activity.

The worldwide 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. In the ocean, the only regions free of industrial fishing, pollution and shipping are confined to the poles or remote Pacific island nations.

More than 70 percent of Earth's last untouched wilderness lies in the territories of just five countries, scientists said on Wednesday - mostly nations that alarm environmentalists with their lukewarm response to climate change.

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.

At the 14 meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), held from November 17-29, signatory governments, intergovernmental organizations such as the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), international non-governmental organizations, and the scientific community will meet to work towards a strategic plan for the protection of biodiversity after 2020.

Scientists have concluded that the salvation of at least a part of wild nature will be possible only if people make a concerted effort to do so.

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

The authors describe wilderness areas as those places that do not have industrial level activity within them according to the marine and terrestrial human footprint.

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

"We can not afford to lose more", he said.

As well as being havens for biodiversity, wildernesses such as the boreal forest in northern Canada - which acts as a carbon sink and which is protected by federal law - form mankind's frontline protection against runaway climate change.

Mechanisms such as REDD+, which allows developing nations to claim compensation for conserving tropical forests they had planned to clear, could be extended to other carbon-rich wilderness areas such as intact seagrasses, and even to wildernesses in rich countries that do not receive climate aid, such as the Canadian tundra.

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

Watson said that one obvious intervention these nations could prioritise was establishing protected areas in ways that would slow the impacts of industrial activity on the larger landscape or seascape. Particularly, worldwide accountability is necessary, he argues.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

Discuss This Article