10% of earth’s wilderness lost in 2 decades

Unspoiled lands are disappearing from the face of the earth at an alarming pace, with about 10 per cent of wilderness regions, lost in the past two decades amid unrelenting human development, researchers said recently.

South America, which lost 30 per cent of its wilderness during that period, and Africa, which lost 14 per cent, were the continents hardest hit, they said.

According to Reuters, the main driver of the global losses was destruction of wilderness for agriculture, logging and mining.

The researchers’ study, published in the journal Current Biology, was the latest to document the impact of human activities on a global scale, affecting earth’s climate, landscape, oceans, natural resources and wildlife.

The researchers mapped the world’s wilderness areas, excluding Antarctica, and compared the results with a 1993 map that used the same methods.

They found that 11.6 million square miles (30.1 million square km) remain worldwide as wilderness, defined as biologically and ecologically intact regions without notable human disturbance. Since the 1993 estimation, 1.3 million square miles (3.3 million square km) of wilderness disappeared, they determined.

“This is incredibly sad because we can’t offset or restore these places. Once they are gone, they are gone, and this has shocking implications for biodiversity, for climate change and for the most imperiled biodiversity on the planet,” conservationist, James Watson of the University of Queensland in Australia and the Wildlife Conservation Society in New York said.

The wilderness losses in the past two decades comprised a combined area about half the size of South America’s vast Amazon region.