Biodiversity loss – Summary of major biodiversity-related environmental-change categories expressed as a percentage of human-driven change (in red) relative to baseline (blue).
The study suggests that only 3% of the world’s soil is environmentally intact, with healthy populations of all of its pristine animals and undisturbed habitat.
The study, published Thursday in the journal Frontiers in Forests and Global Change, combined maps showing human damage to habitat with maps showing where animals have gone away from their traditional ranges or are too short to sustain a healthy ecosystem to draw conclusions.
Previous analysis has detected wilderness areas based very much on satellite images and estimates that between 20-40% of the global surface will find little impact from humans.
Co-ordinated by Andrew Plumptre of the Key Biodiversity Areas Secretariat and BirdLife International based in the British city of Cambridge, the scientists studied three types of integrity in order to evaluate ecological integrity.
Researchers propose resettling a small number of important species, like elephants or wolves, in some affected areas, a move that could leave as much as 20 percent of the world’s soil ecologically intact.
Resettlement of up to five important species such as forest elephants and giraffes into areas where their habitat is intact but wildlife has been lost, could rise by up to a 19% share of the earth’s land surfaces considered to be intact, covering an area of at least 10.000 m2.
Antarctica was not counted.
Habitats that appear intact frequently lack large, extensive species that play an important ecological role in the ecosystem, it continued.