The last wilderness areas of the world are rapidly disappearing, so explicit international conservation goals are extremely necessary.
An international investigation led by the University of Queensland (UQ), in Australia, recently mapped intact ocean ecosystems, complementing a 2016 project that traces the rest of the Earth's surface.
Professor James Watson, of the UQ School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, says the two studies provided the first overall picture of what little was left of the wildlife, and he was alarmed by the results.
"A century ago, only the 15 percent The surface of the Earth was used by humans to cultivate and raise cattle, "he explains. Today, more than 77 percent of land, excluding Antarctica, and 87 percent of the ocean has been modified by the direct effects of human activities. "
"It may be hard to believe, but between 1993 and 2009, an area of terrestrial wild land larger than India, a staggering 3.3 million square kilometers, was lost due to human settlements, agriculture, mining and other pressures. And in the ocean, the only regions that are free of industrial fishing, pollution and shipping are almost completely confined to the polar regions, "he says.
There is no obligation to account for long-term conservation
The scientist James R. Allan, postdoctoral researcher at UQ, points out that the remaining nature of the world could only be protected if its importance is recognized in international politics. "Some wilderness areas are protected by national legislation, but in most nations, these areas are not formally defined, mapped or protected – sorry – there is nothing that compels nations, industry, society or communities to be accountable for long-term conservation. "
And he claims: "We need the immediate establishment of bold goals for wildlife, specifically those aimed at conserving biodiversity, avoiding dangerous climate change and achieving sustainable development. "The researchers insist that global policy must translate into local action.
"An obvious intervention that these nations can prioritize is establish protected areas so that the impacts of industrial activity on the larger landscape or seascape slow down – Professor Watson proposes -. But we must also stop industrial development to protect indigenous livelihoods, create mechanisms that allow the private sector to protect wildlife and encourage the expansion of regional fisheries management organizations.
"We have already lost a lot, so we must take this opportunity to ensure the last wild landscape that remains before it disappears forever," concludes this researcher.