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Change in Terrestrial Human Footprint Drives Continued Loss of Intact Ecosystems

44 Pages Posted: 14 May 2020 Sneak Peek Status: Under Review

See all articles by Brooke Anne Williams

Brooke Anne Williams

University of Queensland - School of Earth and Environmental Sciences

Oscar Venter

University of Northern British Columbia

James R. Allan

University of Amsterdam - Institute for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Dynamics (IBED)

Scott C. Atkinson

University of Queensland - School of Earth and Environmental Sciences

Jose A. Rehbein

School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Queensland

Michelle S. Ward

University of Queensland - School of Earth and Environmental Sciences

Moreno Di Marco

Department of Biology and Biotechnology, Sapienza University of Rome

Hedley S. Grantham

Wildlife Conservation Society

Jamison Ervin

United Nations Development Programme

Scott Goetz

The Woods Hole Research Center

Andrew J. Hansen

Ecology Department, Montana State University

Patrick Jantz

School of Informatics, Computing, and Cyber Systems, Northern Arizona University

Rajeev Pillay

Natural Resources and Environmental Studies Institute, University of Northern British Columbia

Susana Rodríguez-Buriticá

United Nations Development Programme

Christina Supples

United Nations Development Programme

Anne L. S. Virnig

United Nations Development Programme

James E.M. Watson

University of Queensland - School of Earth and Environmental Sciences

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Abstract

Our ability to map humanity’s influence across Earth has evolved, thanks to powerful computing, a network of earth observing satellites, and new bottom-up census and crowd-sourced data. Here, we provide the latest temporally inter-comparable maps of the terrestrial Human Footprint, and assessment of change in human pressure at global, biome, and ecoregional scales. In 2013, 42% of terrestrial Earth could be considered relatively free of anthropogenic disturbance, and 25% could be classed as ‘wilderness’ (the least degraded end of the human footprint spectrum). Between 2000 and 2013, 1.9 million km 2 - an area the size of Mexico - of land relatively free of human disturbance became highly modified. The majority of this occurred within tropical and subtropical grasslands, savannah, and shrubland ecosystems, but the rainforests of Southeast Asia also underwent rapid modification . Our results show that humanity’s footprint is eroding Earth’s last intact ecosystems, and greater efforts are urgently needed to retain them.

Keywords: Human pressure, cumulative pressure mapping, ecosystem degradation, human modification, human footprint, wilderness, wild lands, Biodiversity, conservation, land use change.

Suggested Citation

Williams, Brooke Anne and Venter, Oscar and Allan, James R. and Atkinson, Scott C. and Rehbein, Jose A. and Ward, Michelle S. and Di Marco, Moreno and Grantham, Hedley S. and Ervin, Jamison and Goetz, Scott and Hansen, Andrew J. and Jantz, Patrick and Pillay, Rajeev and Rodríguez-Buriticá, Susana and Supples, Christina and Virnig, Anne L. S. and Watson, James E.M., Change in Terrestrial Human Footprint Drives Continued Loss of Intact Ecosystems. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3600547 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3600547
This is a paper under consideration at Cell Press and has not been peer-reviewed.

Brooke Anne Williams (Contact Author)

University of Queensland - School of Earth and Environmental Sciences ( email )

St Lucia
Australia

Oscar Venter

University of Northern British Columbia ( email )

3333 University Way
Prince George, B.C. V29 4Z9
United States

James R. Allan

University of Amsterdam - Institute for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Dynamics (IBED)

Spui 21
Amsterdam, 1018 WB
Netherlands

Scott C. Atkinson

University of Queensland - School of Earth and Environmental Sciences

Queensland, 4067
Australia

Jose A. Rehbein

School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Queensland ( email )

St Lucia
Brisbane, Queensland 4072
Australia

Michelle S. Ward

University of Queensland - School of Earth and Environmental Sciences

Queensland, 4067
Australia

Moreno Di Marco

Department of Biology and Biotechnology, Sapienza University of Rome ( email )

Piazzale Aldo Moro 5
Roma, Rome 00185
Italy

Hedley S. Grantham

Wildlife Conservation Society ( email )

Bronx, NY 10460
United States

Jamison Ervin

United Nations Development Programme ( email )

United Nations Development Programme
1 United Nations Plaza
New York, NY 10017
United States

Scott Goetz

The Woods Hole Research Center ( email )

P. O. Box 296
Woods Hole, MA
United States

Andrew J. Hansen

Ecology Department, Montana State University ( email )

Bozeman, MT 59717-2920
United States

Patrick Jantz

School of Informatics, Computing, and Cyber Systems, Northern Arizona University ( email )

PO Box 15066
Flagstaff, AZ 86011
United States

Rajeev Pillay

Natural Resources and Environmental Studies Institute, University of Northern British Columbia ( email )

3333 University Way
Prince George, B.C. V29 4Z9
United States

Susana Rodríguez-Buriticá

United Nations Development Programme ( email )

United Nations Development Programme
1 United Nations Plaza
New York, NY 10017
United States

Christina Supples

United Nations Development Programme ( email )

United Nations Development Programme
1 United Nations Plaza
New York, NY 10017
United States

Anne L. S. Virnig

United Nations Development Programme ( email )

United Nations Development Programme
1 United Nations Plaza
New York, NY 10017
United States

James E.M. Watson

University of Queensland - School of Earth and Environmental Sciences

Queensland, 4067
Australia

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