'Reality Check': Report Shows 'Staggering' Failure to Protect Biodiversity as Humans Threaten Third of Nature Reserves
September 20, 2020 | News | No Comments
In what’s being called a “stunning reality check,” a new study published in the journal Science reveals that despite global efforts to safeguard biodiversity by establishing nature reserves, nearly a third of the world’s “protected land is under intense human pressure.”
“For us to find such a significant amount of human infrastructure in places governments have set aside for safeguarding biodiversity is staggering.”
—James Watson, conservation scientist
While more than 90 percent of protected land worldwide has been degraded to some degree due to human activity, 32.8 percent—more than 2.3 million square miles—has been significantly impacted by human activity, according to the report.
“What we found was massive amounts of high-level human infrastructure, for example mining activity, industrial logging activity, industrial agriculture, townships, roads, and energy,” lead author James Watson, a conservation scientist at the University of Queensland in Australia, told the Guardian.
“These are the places that nations have said they are setting aside for nature’s needs not human needs,” he added. “So for us to find such a significant amount of human infrastructure in places governments have set aside for safeguarding biodiversity is staggering.”
Watson and fellow researcher Kendall Jones explained the results of their study in a video produced by the University of Queensland:
Although the damage was most common in densely populated parts of Africa, Asia, and Europe, researchers emphasized that it is a global issue. Their findings bolster concerns generated from other recent reports that have shown that human activity—most notably, anthropogenic climate change—is causing “a major biodiversity crisis.”
Guy Midgley, a world-renowned expert on biodiversity and professor at South Africa’s Stellenbosch University, issued warnings this week about the impact of global warming on the planet’s species alongside his latest report, also published in Science.
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