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.
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 version of the paper has not been formally peer reviewed.