Thursday, 22 November, 2018

Worlds last wilderness may vanish due to human activity

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
Sandy Nunez | 02 November, 2018, 21:09

A mere five countries contain 70% of the untouched natural ecosystems left in the world, and will only continue to survive with urgent worldwide cooperation, according to researchers.

James Allan, a postdoctoral research fellow at Queensland University, said the world's remaining wilderness could only be protected if its importance was recognised in worldwide policy. Researchers from the University of Queensland recently mapped ocean ecosystems that have remained unchanged, complementing a 2016 project charting remaining terrestrial wilderness. Currently, human activity affects 77 percent of the land area, including Antarctica, and 87 percent of the World's oceans.

A wilderness area is a region that's not been strongly affected by human activity.

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.

The researchers said in the ocean, the only regions that are free of industrial fishing, pollution and shipping are nearly completely confined to the polar regions.

Dr Allen said: "Some wilderness areas are protected under national legislation, but in most nations, these areas are not formally defined, mapped or protected".

Human activity is destroying the world's last wildernesses, and what's left is concentrated in a handful of locations on Earth.

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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. This biodiversity makes up several ecosystems, and we humans are linked to nearly every one of them in one way or the other.

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

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.

Nearly every nation has signed worldwide environmental agreements that aim to end the biodiversity crisis, halt unsafe climate change, and achieve global sustainable development goals.

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.

John Robertson, the executive vice president for global conservation at WCS said wilderness would only be secured globally "if these nations take a leadership role". For example the boreal forest, which is the most intact ecosystem on the planet, stores one-third of the world's carbon dioxide. But success will depend on the steps these "mega-wilderness nations" take, or fail to take, to secure the future of Earth's last remaining wild places. Particularly, worldwide accountability is necessary, he argues.