The world’s last wilderness areas are rapidly disappearing and we need international conservation targets to slow that pace, says a study from UNBC.

Dr. Oscar Venter Associate Professor of Ecosystem and Management co-authored the study, which he says provides the first “full global picture of how little wilderness remains.”  

The team mapped intact ocean ecosystems and put it together with a 2016 project charting the earth’s remaining forests.

He said that excluding Antarctica, 77% of land and 87% the ocean has been modified by the direct effects of human activities.

According to him, only a century ago, a mere 15% of the earth’s surface was used by humans to grow crops and raise livestock.  

“It may be hard to believe, but between 1993 and 2009, an area of terrestrial wilderness larger than India – a staggering 3.3 million square kilometres – was lost to human settlement, farming, mining and other pressures.”

“And in the ocean, the only regions that are free of industrial fishing, pollution and shipping are almost completely confined to the polar regions.”

“Canada is at the coal-face of this issue,” said Venter.

“We have more wilderness remaining than any other country except Russia. One obvious intervention is to prioritize establishing protected areas in ways that would slow the impacts of industrial activity on the larger landscape or seascape in Canada.”

Venter said in the North, the implications of projects like LNG and Northwest Transmission Line are not only in their own footprint, but in the industry that gets created around them.