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Researchers assess state of wilderness

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In the last two decades, 10 percent of the world’s wilderness has been lost, according to new research, from the boreal forests of North America to the rainforests of Papua New Guinea. “Wilderness areas are such important places for biodiversity conservation, human livelihoods, and ecosystem services,” said James Allan, a PhD student at the University of Queensland School of Earth and Environmental Sciences and lead author of the study published in Nature. ‘They contain all the natural processes which support life on earth. It is impossible to overstate how important conserving them is.” Among the areas most at risk are the Amazon, which lost a third of its wilderness, and the Congo rainforest, which lost 14 percent. ‘This is particularly concerning since these tropical forests harbor a huge diversity of life,” Allan said. Considering previous maps and assessments of wilderness conservation out of date, Allan and his colleagues undertook a massive project to map human pressure across the planet, and designating places free of human activity. They found these areas were retreating, primarily due to human population expansion, road and infrastructure expansion and agricultural expansion. “We understood their importance,” Allan said, “and had a feeling that humans were starting to [...]

 

Read more: http://wildlife.org/researchers-assess-state-of-wilderness/

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