Wednesday, 21 September 2016

World's wilderness reduced by a tenth since 1990s

By Helen Briggs BBC News

A tenth of the world's wilderness has vanished in the past two decades, research shows.

New maps show "alarming losses" of pristine landscapes, particularly in South America and Africa, according to World Conservation Society scientists.

They argue in Current Biology that wild areas are ignored in international conservation agreements, despite their ecological and cultural value.

About 20% of the world's land area is classed as wilderness.

By this, scientists mean landscapes free of large-scale human disturbances such as housing, development and industry.

The majority of these untouched spaces are found in North America, north Asia, north Africa and Australia.

They are often home to indigenous peoples as well as endangered plants and animals.

James Watson of the University of Queensland, Australia, and the US Wildlife Conservation Society in New York said wilderness areas "are completely ignored in environmental policy".

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