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Study: Tenth Of The World’s Wilderness Is Lost Since The 1990s

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There has been reduction of 10 percent in the global wilderness globally since 1990s. (Image courtesy: Google)

Wilderness or forests which are considered as favorable habitat for most of the animals are rapidly declining over the world.

This is mainly resulting due to the increasing number of cities, roads, farms, mines, logging and some of the industrial activities which is pushed in every corner of the planet.

A newer study which is published in Current Biology is reporting that Earth has lost 10 percent of its wilderness since the early 1990s.

It is an area which is twice in size that of Alaska. Lead Author James Watson from the University of Queensland commenting over the same says, “The amount of wilderness loss in just two decades is staggering and very saddening.”

Statistical view of global significant wilderness areas. (Source: Current Biology)
Statistical view of global significant wilderness areas. (Source: Current Biology)

Wilderness: Explained

Study conducted is defining “wilderness” as biologically and ecologically largely intact landscapes which are mostly free from human disturbances. It also includes largely untouched forests, grasslands, savannahs and even swamps. Yet wilderness is not quite free from people, while some of the rain forests which is having indigenous communities living in them are also being counted.

Quite much of the attention is being given over the loss of species but little of them is given over losses occurred to entire ecosystem. It specifically includes the wilderness areas which are tending to be relatively understudied.

For filling out this gap, the researchers have mapped the wilderness areas around the globe. Wilderness are being defined as biologically and ecologically intact landscapes which are free of any of the significant human disturbances.

Researchers have compared the current map of wilderness to that produced by same methods during early 1990s.

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Reduction in Wilderness Areas: Point of Concern

Big picture of the same is quite stunning as we have lost roughly 1.2 million square miles of the wilderness since the early 1990s. It is leaving 12 million square miles quite intact.

Losses from the same are quite heavy in Amazon and Central Africa. Fewer areas have quite lost nearly all of their former wilderness.

It also includes the Northwestern Congolian Lowland Forests and even Northern New Guinea Lowland Rain and Freshwater Swamp Forests ecoregion’s.

Over the bright side, there is quite some hope regarding abating further losses. Throughout the 1990s in Brazil, farmers have burned vast swaths of the rain forests for making further space for cattle and crops.

Comparison has showed that a total of 30.1 million km2 which is 20 percent of the world’s land area is now remaining as wilderness. Majority of this area is located in North America, North Asia, North Africa and even Australian Continent.

Comparisons done between both of the maps has shown that an estimated of 3.3 million km2 of the wilderness area has been lost in the intervening years.

These loses are primarily occurred in South America which has experienced 30 percent decline in wilderness and Africa which has experienced 14 percent of the loss.

Protection over Reduction in Wilderness Areas:

From the term 2005 to 2012, deforestation rates have quite fell from 70 percent due to the newer laws concerning the protection and efforts by the Brazil’s cattle ranchers and soybean farmers. This is specifically done for the farmers for intensifying the production over the land which is already cleared.

It is one of the greatest environmental success stories ever heard. Still it wasn’t airtight. During past years, deforestation in Brazil was started to pick up again.

It was particularly among the smaller farmers and there is even evidence that forest loss has even been accelerated in the nearby Peru and Bolivia.

Study published in Current Biology is also reporting some of the positive news. Much of the remaining wilderness which is about 80 percent which is consisting of large and contiguous chunks of land.

Its even crucial for the species living there. If habitats gets too fragmented by means of roads or clear-cutting, animals gets much lesser likely to survive.

Last year they even talked about Duke biologist Stuart Pimm who was engaged in effort for switching together fragmented forests in Brazil.

This was specially done for saving species like those of golden lion tamarind. Still, its clear that a lot is needed for protecting remaining wilder part.

Some of those involves basic conservation which is turning vulnerable forests and grasslands into the protected areas and reserves.

Areas of Wilderness:

It is involving most of the ecologically valuable or irreplaceable areas. This will also require shrinking humanity’s land footprint so that we don’t really need to keep encroaching over the wilderness forever.

It might also be entailing using substitutes for certain raw materials which also includes wood or by increasing crop yields over the existing farmlands so that they don’t really need quite much space.

There are some of the indications that we humans are starting to do exactly that while using technology and ingenuity for shrivelling our environmental impact over the living standards as they keep rising.

Experts says that those wilderness which has been vanished are gone forever. We can’t restore that wilderness. The only way left for them is reviewing and taking protective steps for the existing ecosystem.

Other experts are quite arguing that it’s worth trying to restore and even revive the damaged ecosystems while returning them back to some resemblance of their former shape.

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