Earth's two-thirds wilderness is located in five countries


Their mapping methods for terrestrial wilderness included data such as population density, night-time lights and major roadways and indicators such as fishing, fertilizer run-off and industrial shipping to determine ocean ecosystems. "Already we have lost so much", the report says.

He said the five countries responsible for most of the world's remaining wilderness had to provide leadership and could act to protect these areas through legislation or by offering incentives to businesses that do not erode nature.

The researchers found that more than 77 percent of land, excluding Antarctica, and about 87 percent of the ocean has undergone changes linked to human activity.

Humanity's relentless spread across the face of the Earth has led to a dramatic decline in the quantity and quality of wilderness areas.

And we can not forget Antarctica, arguably Earth's greatest remaining wilderness and one of the last places on the planet where vast regions have never experienced a human footfall.

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.

"...between 1993 and 2009, an area of terrestrial wilderness larger than India - a staggering 3.3 million square kilometres - was lost to human settlement, farming, mining and other pressures", said Watson.

Scientists of the University of Queensland (Australia) came to the conclusion that the places on Earth where wildlife is preserved, is rapidly disappearing. (3,861 sq. mi.). The survey excludes Antarctica and the open seas, but the authors note that marine regions "free of industrial fishing, pollution and shipping are nearly completely confined to the polar regions".

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"We need the immediate establishment of bold wilderness targets - specifically those aimed at conserving biodiversity, avoiding unsafe climate change and achieving sustainable development", said Allan. This is a unique opportunity for all nations to recognise that Earth's wilderness are dwindling, and to mandate a global target for wilderness conservation.

Venter said those countries have a role to play in preserving wilderness, including the boreal forest of Canada, which could be impacted by climate change according to the Prairie Climate Centre at the University of Winnipeg.

"It's achievable to have a target of 100%", Watson said. This would incentivise nations to make wilderness protection central to their climate strategies. 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.

"It requires nations to legislate and not let industry in".

Prof Watson said: "One obvious intervention these nations can prioritise is establishing protected areas in ways that would slow the impacts of industrial activity on the larger landscape or seascape".

Under UNESCO World Heritage Convention, some wilderness areas are protected as Natural World Heritage Sites.

"Similar to species extinction, the erosion of the wilderness is essentially irreversible", they wrote.