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Habitat and species loss leaves just 3% of world's land ecosystems intact -- study

April 15, 2021. Summarized by summa-bot.

Compression ratio: 44.5%. 2 min read.

Just under 3% of the world's land remains ecologically intact, with undisturbed habitat and minimal loss of its original animal species, a new study suggests.

(CNN)Just under 3% of the world's land remains ecologically intact, with undisturbed habitat and minimal loss of its original animal species, a new study suggests.

The research, published Thursday in the journal Frontiers in Forests and Global Change, combined maps showing human damage to habitat with maps showing where animals have disappeared from their original ranges or are too low in number to maintain a healthy ecosystem to reach its conclusions.

"Areas identified as functionally intact included east Siberia and northern Canada for boreal and tundra biomes, parts of the Amazon and Congo basin tropical forests, and the Sahara Desert," according to the authors.

These are habitat intactness, or the degree to which human activity has affected the land, faunal intactness, or the loss of animal species, and functional intactness, which assesses whether there are enough animals of the individual species for the ecosystem to remain healthy.

"We found that only 2. 8% of the terrestrial surface of the planet is represented in areas of 10,000 km2 or larger with low human footprint, no known species loss and no species known to be reduced below functional densities. "

Only 11% of the areas identified by the researchers as functionally intact are included within existing protected areas, the study notes.

Reintroducing up to five important species, such as forest elephants or giraffes, to areas where the habitat remains undamaged but fauna have been lost could increase the percentage of the earth's land surface identified as faunally intact by up to 19%, using a minimum area of 10,000 sq.

The study suggests that data analyzing the human footprint in wilderness areas, often based on remote sensing tools, highlight habitat loss but don't always account for such threats as invasive species and hunting by humans.

Habitats that appear intact are often missing large, wide-ranging species that play important ecological roles in the ecosystem, it adds.

The researchers acknowledge that the datasets applied in their analysis "are the best we could compile at a global scale" and that more detailed analyses of human footprint, species loss and population densities of important species would be possible if smaller areas were studied.

by summa-bot

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