If we get the chance to map Earth looking only for signs of our developments, how much of the terrestrial surface would we find in an unaltered state?
In a recent study, researchers compared figures from four distinct sets of spatial data to answer this question. Their work and results are truly intriguing. Here is what you should know.
Earth’s Remaining Natural Habitats are Highly Threatened
For the new study, a team of researchers compared figures from four various sets of spatial data to find more about the unaltered parts of Earth. While each of the datasets utilizes distinct types of classification and methodologies systems, on average, the team state almost half, 48 to 56 %, of Earth’s land indicate the “low” influence of humans.
While the results might inspire many – highlighting the wide range of significantly untouched regions that can still be protected with conservation methods – the research also serves to display how much of our planet has already been occupied and used by the human enterprise. Approximately 20 to 34 % of Earth’s ice-free terrestrial surface indicates “very low” signs of human influence. The regions of the planet that we left untouched represent some of the least inhabitable areas on Earth.
From recycling nutrients and offering fresh air to mitigating the impacts of climate change, unaltered land with fully functioning ecosystems has a significant role in our ability to exists on Earth.
“More concerning, below 1 % of temperate grasslands, tropical coniferous forests and tropical dry forests have very low human influence across most datasets, and tropical grasslands, mangrove, and montane grasslands also have below 1 % of land identified as a very low influence across all datasets,” detailed the researchers in their paper.
Unfortunately, only 15 % of Earth is under some kind of environmental protection. According to researchers, intact ecosystems outside those regions are quickly being eroded. But, there’s a chance to draw a line in the sand, and say out loud, “no more.” We still have time.