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Alarming decline in wilderness areas, immediate international attention needed
Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) today unveiled about shocking reduction in the wilderness areas across the world over the last two decades. Humans have been held responsible for destroying a tenth of earth’s wilderness in the above mentioned time period. If the same trend continues, researchers fear there would be no such area left within a century. The researchers were shocked to find out that a vast area around the size of two-times Alaska has been completely destroyed between 1993 and today by human activities.
The WCS said that the maximum loss has been suffered by the Amazon and Central Africa. James Watson of the University of Queensland in Australia said that wilderness areas across the globe are vital. They not only play a role in regulating local climates, but also support many of the world’s most politically and economically marginalized communities.
Despite being so important, they are not given due important in environmental policy. “Without any policies to protect these areas, they are falling victim to widespread development. International policy mechanisms must recognize the actions needed to maintain wilderness areas before it is too late. We probably have one to two decades to turn this around”, affirmed Watson.
Efforts should be made at an international level so that importance of wilderness areas could be understood and the threats faced by these lands could be eliminated, said the researchers.
In the study, the researchers have mapped wilderness areas across the globe. In the second step, the researchers have compared the map with the ones being produced using the same methods in the early 1990s.
From the assessment, it was found that a total of 30.1 million km2 now acts as wilderness. Majority of this land is present in North America, North Asia, North Africa, and the Australian continent. After comparing the two maps, it has been found that an estimated of 3.3 million km2 wilderness areas has been lost in those years, primarily in Southern America and Africa.