Only 3% Of Earth’s Habitats And Animal Populations Haven’t Been Disturbed By Humans, Study Finds
A shocking new study has revealed a mere 3% of the planet has remained untouched from the expansion of humans.
The report, published in Frontiers in Forest and Global Change, claims that ‘ecologically-intact’ portions of the Earth are now restricted to just a few percent.
The findings came about after a group of researchers, led by Andrew Plumptre, studied maps that showed the levels of human destruction of various ecosystems across the globe superimposed over ones that displayed where groups of animals had decreased in numbers or become extinct altogether.
‘Field work by many people clearly shows there are species that have been lost from these areas of intact habitat—large and medium carnivores and large and medium herbivores in particular,’ Plumptre said, during an interview with Gizmodo.
‘Some have been lost or reduced in number because of hunting by people,’ he explained, and ‘some lost because of the introduction of invasive species, such as cats and dogs, and some due to disease’.
There were three different ways he and his team of researchers measured how affected a habitat was: habitat intactness; faunal intactness; and functional intactness.
Essentially, what that means is they could measure the percentage from the latter two – faunal and functional intactness – and use it to establish what fraction has been lost. ‘Faunal intactness was 2.9% of the land surface and functional intactness 2.8%,’ said Plumptre, meaning the other 97%, aka the terrestrial ecosystems, are suffering due to a number of human-made factors, like hunting and industry, while the rest was made up by invasive species.
Findings suggest there are five remaining ecosystems intact: Congo; Tanzania; the Amazon rainforest; Siberia; and southern Chile. One way to counter this dangerous destruction is to reintroduce species of animals to certain areas, but only in small groups, such as large mammals, which could begin to naturally reestablish order.
As we’ve seen over the past year, some parts of the world have started to repair themselves, thanks to a combination of a global ban on CFC production, where scientists revealed the ozone had begun to repair itself, and since people across the world worked from home as a result of the pandemic, which saw Los Angeles experience a drastic decline in air pollution.
It’s believed that if we gradually placed some animals back into these damaged areas, the ecological intactness could heal and improve by around 20%. This could mean areas such as Alaska, northern Canada, Russia, the Sahara Desert, the Amazon rainforest, as well as the Congo tropical forest, could begin to repair over time.
‘We should also think about restoring species to regain ecological integrity across more of the Earth,’ Plumptre urged, if we as a species wish to preserve the place we live for future generations.
However, it seems humanity really haven’t learned any of the lessons spelled out to us, because carbon emissions are set to soar in 2021, which is due to the reduced usage during the global pandemic.
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