Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Help Support EcoWatch

One-Third of Protected Areas 'Highly Degraded' By Humans, Study Finds

Animals
One-Third of Protected Areas 'Highly Degraded' By Humans, Study Finds
White-banded swallows in Yasuni National Park, which has largely escaped human pressures. Geoff Gallice from Gainesville / CC BY 2.0

A study published in Science Friday presents what authors call a sobering "reality check" on global efforts to protect biodiversity—one third of all conservation areas set aside as wildlife sanctuaries or national parks are "highly degraded" by human activities.


"The study shows that governments are overestimating the space available for nature inside protected areas. Governments are claiming these places are protected for the sake of nature when in reality they aren't. It is a major reason why biodiversity is still in catastrophic decline, despite more and more land being 'protected,'" study lead-author Kendall Jones of the University of Queensland said in a press release published by ScienceDaily.

Jones was joined by other researchers from the University of Queensland as well as from the University of Northern British Columbia and the Wildlife Conservation Society, which provided materials for the press release. They used what the abstract calls the "most comprehensive global map of human pressure" to determine that 2.3 million square miles—32.8 percent of all protected land—is under extreme pressure from grazing, urbanization, road-building and other human activities.

The study's authors said the study was a warning for countries looking to make their targets for the Convention on Biodiversity (CBD). The UN is celebrating the 25th anniversary of the CBD's entry into force on the International Day for Biological Diversity May 22. The number of protected areas has almost doubled in those 25 years, accounting for 15 percent of the Earth's land area. The goal is to cover 17 percent by 2020.

But the study indicates that, when it comes to protecting land, governments need to think about quality as well as quantity. The study found that, of lands protected before the CBD was ratified, 55 percent had experienced an increase in human-caused pressures since. However, that increase was lowest in large reserves with strict protections.

"We know protected areas work—when well-funded, well-managed and well placed, they are extremely effective in halting the threats that cause biodiversity loss and ensure species return from the brink of extinction. There are also many protected areas that are still in good condition and protect the last strongholds of endangered species worldwide. The challenge is to improve the management of those protected areas that are most valuable for nature conservation to ensure they safeguard it," study author and University of Queensland Prof. James Watson said in the press release.

Some success stories included the Madidi National Park in Bolivia, the Keo Seima Wildlife Sanctuary in Cambodia and the Yasuni Biosphere Reserve in Ecuador. The areas that suffered most human pressures were in highly populated parts of Europe, Asia and Africa.

A meteorologist monitors weather in NOAA's Center for Weather and Climate Prediction on July 2, 2013 in Riverdale, Maryland. Mark Wilson / Getty Images

The Trump White House is now set to appoint two climate deniers to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in one month.

Read More Show Less

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

A plastic bag caught in a tree in New Jersey's Palisades Park. James Leynse / Stone / Getty Images

New Jersey is one step closer to passing what environmental advocates say is the strongest anti-plastic legislation in the nation.

Read More Show Less

Trending

Did you know that nearly 30% of adults do, or will, suffer from a sleep condition at some point in their life? Anyone who has experienced disruptions in their sleep is familiar with the havoc that it can wreak on your body and mind. Lack of sleep, for one, can lead to anxiety and lethargy in the short-term. In the long-term, sleep deprivation can lead to obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.

Fortunately, there are proven natural supplements that can reduce insomnia and improve quality sleep for the better. CBD oil, in particular, has been scientifically proven to promote relaxing and fulfilling sleep. Best of all, CBD is non-addictive, widely available, and affordable for just about everyone to enjoy. For these very reasons, we have put together a comprehensive guide on the best CBD oil for sleep. Our goal is to provide objective, transparent information about CBD products so you are an informed buyer.

Read More Show Less
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) talks to reporters during her weekly news conference at the U.S. Capitol Visitors Center on Sept. 18, 2020 in Washington, DC. Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

The House of Representatives passed a sweeping bill to boost clean energy while phasing out the use of coolants in air conditioners and refrigerators that are known pollutants and contribute to the climate crisis, as the AP reported.

Read More Show Less
Gov. Jay Inslee of Washington comforts Marsha Maus, 75, whose home was destroyed during California's deadly 2018 wildfires, on March 11, 2019 in Agoura Hills, California. Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times / Getty Images

By Governor Jay Inslee

Climate Week this year coincides with clear skies in Washington state for the first time in almost two weeks.

In just a few days in early September, Washington state saw enough acres burned – more than 600,000 – to reach our second-worst fire season on record. Our worst fire season came only five years ago. Wildfires aren't new to the west, but their scope and danger today is unlike anything firefighters have seen. People up and down the West Coast – young and old, in rural areas and in cities – were choking on smoke for days on end, trapped in their homes.

Fires like these are becoming the norm, not the exception.

Read More Show Less

Support Ecowatch