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02 November 2018, 09:08 | Edward Lowe
World's remaining wilderness rapidly vanishing: Aussie-led research
A team of experts recently mapped intact ocean ecosystems, complementing a 2016 project charting remaining terrestrial wilderness. Researchers say that world's remaining wilderness could only be protected if worldwide policies recognize their value and organizations take serious actions to address the numerous threats they face. The past decade has witnessed rapid depletion of such wilderness due to climate change and deforestation, a trend that must be reversed to ensure humanity's survival as a species.
Dr Allen said: "Some wilderness areas are protected under national legislation, but in most nations, these areas are not formally defined, mapped or protected".
M - The world's last wilderness may vanish sooner rather than later, new research has warned, Daily Mail reports. Today, only 23% of land - excluding Antarctica - and 13% of the ocean remains free from the harmful impacts of human activities.
Overall, 77% of land - excluding Antarctica - and 87% of oceans had been modified by human intervention. "It might be hard to believe, but between 1993 and 2009, an area of terrestrial wilderness larger than India - a staggering 3.3 million square kilometers - was lost to human settlement, farming, mining and other pressures".
More than 70% of remaining wilderness is in just five countries: Australia, Russia, Canada, the United States (Alaska), and Brazil. 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. But nearly two-thirds of marine wilderness lies in global waters, beyond the direct control of nations.
"Many wilderness areas are critical sinks for atmospheric carbon dioxide", adds the study. "And in the ocean, the only regions that are free of industrial fishing, pollution and shipping are nearly completely confined to the polar regions".
"This is a very important time to raise awareness about the value of these systems, about how imperilled they are and to help decision-making that balances human needs and environmental needs and think strategically about where we develop and how we develop", Venter said.
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.
"One take on the list is that alarm bells go off", said Watson. Not only is it the most intact ecosystem on the entire planet, the authors say, but it captures and stores around a third of the Earth's terrestrial carbon.
Wilderness areas also provide a vital refuge for species whose environment has suffered as a result of human settlement, often maintaining a near-natural mix and abundance of animals. Key to this will be lenders' investment and performance standards, particularly for organisations such as the World Bank, the International Finance Corporation, and the regional development banks.
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