Half the Earth Relatively Intact From Global Human Influence

landscape with mountains and streams at sunset
The Brooks Range stretches across northern Alaska. Boreal forests in North America are among the largest areas experiencing a relatively low human impact. (Jason Riggio/UC Davis)

Study Presents Clear Opportunities to Conserve What Remains

By Kat Kerlin on June 11, 2020

"Roughly half of Earth’s ice-free land remains without significant human influence, according to a study from a team of international researchers led by the National Geographic Society and the University of California, Davis.

The study, published in the journal Global Change Biology, compared four recent global maps of the conversion of natural lands to anthropogenic land uses to reach its conclusions. The more impacted half of Earth’s lands includes cities, croplands, and places intensively ranched or mined.

'The encouraging takeaway from this study is that if we act quickly and decisively, there is a slim window in which we can still conserve roughly half of Earth’s land in a relatively intact state,' said lead author Jason Riggio, a postdoctoral scholar at the UC Davis Museum of Wildlife and Fish Biology.

The study, published June 5 on World Environment Day, aims to inform the upcoming global Convention on Biological Diversity — the Conference of Parties 15. The historic meeting was scheduled to occur in China this fall but was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic. Among the meeting’s goals is to establish specific, and higher, targets for land and water protection.

Approximately 15 percent of the Earth’s land surface and 10 percent of the oceans are currently protected in some form. However, led by organizations including Nature Needs Half and the Half-Earth Project, there have been bold global calls for governments to commit to protecting 30 percent of the land and water by 2030 and 50 percent by 2050."

Read the full story at UC Davis News

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