Protected lands still at peril of people
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Urbanization and agriculture are hampering global conservation efforts, with one third of protected lands under intense pressure from human activities.
At the 1992 Earth Summit in Brazil, global leaders agreed to stall the rapid loss of biodiversity by designating protected areas worldwide.
Now, a team led by researchers from the University of Queensland has mapped human activities in these conservation areas. They found that roads, farmland and cities are putting intense pressure on one third of protected lands. Just 10% remain unaffected, but these lie mainly in remote areas of high-latitude countries, such as Russia and Canada. Other areas under the least pressure were those with the strictest protection status, highlighting the potential benefit of tighter laws on what can be done on protected lands.
Clearer reporting of human activities within protected areas could help many countries meet global biodiversity goals, the authors suggest.
- Science 360, 788–791 (2018). doi: 10.1126/science.aap9565