Handful of states hold fate of world's vanishing wilderness

The Amazon rain forest from the air

The Amazon rain forest from the air

M - The world's last wilderness may vanish sooner rather than later, new research has warned, Daily Mail reports.

Owing to huge global population and increasing human activities, the world's remaining wilderness areas - regions where the lands are in their natural state - are rapidly disappearing, with explicit worldwide conservation targets critically needed, new research says.

According to the study, "87 percent of the ocean has been modified by the direct effects of human activities".

More of the oceans have been affected by human industry - including oil exploration, shipping and commercial fishing - than have the world's land mass, the study found.

The worldwide team that constructed the maps excluded Antarctica for the duel reasons that it is not open to direct resource exploitation, and it is much more hard to assess the indirect effects of human activities.

"And in the ocean, the only regions that are free of industrial fishing, pollution and shipping are nearly completely confined to the polar regions", he added.

A total of 20 countries contain 94 percent of the world's wilderness, with 70 percent held by just five countries.

Dr Allen said: "Some wilderness areas are protected under national legislation, but in most nations, these areas are not formally defined, mapped or protected".

Humanity's relentless spread across the face of the Earth has led to a dramatic decline in the quantity and quality of wilderness areas.

These disturbing findings are particularly troubling as numerous recent studies reveal that Earth's remaining wilderness areas are increasingly important buffers against the effects of climate change and other human impacts.

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Researchers from the University of Queensland (UQ) and the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) have for the first time produced a global map that sets out which countries are responsible for nature that is devoid of heavy industrial activity.

Parties to the Antarctic Treaty must act on their commitments to help reduce human impacts, and we need to urgently curb global carbon emissions before it is too late to save Antarctica.

The authors recommend imposing global targets within existing frameworks to protect these remaining ecosystems, saying "Already we have lost so much".

They form vital refuges for thousands of endangered species threatened by deforestation and overfishing, and provide some of our best defences against the devastating weather events brought about by climate change.

The scientists are calling for the establishment of global targets aimed at conserving biodiversity and avoiding risky climate change.

"We can not afford to lose more", he said.

The recently published study comes ahead of the Convention on Biological Diversity in Egypt in November for the protection of biodiversity beyond 2020.

The Boreal/Taiga Forest holds one third of the world's terrestrial carbon. Particularly, worldwide accountability is necessary, he argues.

Said John Robinson, WCS Executive Vice President for Global Conservation at WCS and a co-author of the paper: "Wilderness will only be secured globally if these nations take a leadership role".

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