Washington: A scientist has found a new map of the ecological footprint of humankind which shows 97 percent of the places on Earth that were species-rich have now been altered.
Professor Bill Laurance, who took part in the study to map the ecological effects of people on the planet, said the finding is not very great.
“The most species-rich parts of the planet, especially including the tropical rainforests have been hit hardest. In total, around 97 per cent of Earth’s biologically richest real estate has been seriously altered by humans,” he said.
The scientists found environmental pressures are widespread with only a few very remote areas escaping the damage.
“Humans are the most voracious consumers’ planet Earth has ever seen. With our land-use, hunting and other exploitative activities, we are now directly impacting three-quarters of the Earth’s land surface,” pointed Bill.
Researchers combined data garnered from unprecedented advances in remote sensing with information collected via surveys on the ground.
They compared data from the first survey in 1993 to the last available information set from 2009.
Bill also said that 71 percent of global eco-regions witnessed a marked increase in their human footprints.
“While the global human footprint expanded by nine percent from 1993 to 2009, it didn’t increase as fast as the human population, which rose by a quarter or economic growth, which exploded by over 150 percent during the same period,” he said.
He said wealthy nations and those with strong control of corruption showed some signs of improvement.
“In broad terms, industrial nations and those with lower corruption appear to be doing a better job of slowing the expansion of their human footprint than poorer countries with weak governance. But the wealthy countries have a much higher per-capita footprint, so each person there is consuming a lot more than those in poorer nations,” said Bill.
Adding, the suitability of lands for agriculture appears to be a major determinant in where ecological pressures appeared around the globe.
The research has been published in Nature Communications and Nature Scientific Data. (ANI)