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Scientists Want Half Of Earth's Land And Oceans To Become A Nature Reserve

Mary-Jane Wiltsher

| Last updated 

 Scientists Want Half Of Earth's Land And Oceans To Become A Nature Reserve

Featured Image Credit: Unsplash

Members of the scientific community are calling for half of the earth's land and oceans to be preserved as a nature reserve.

The protection of 50 per cent of the planet's land and natural resources would work towards protecting wildlife and biodiversity for years to come.

By implementing preservation measures on vast landscapes, the risk of a sixth mass extinction - as warned of by environmental activists such as David Attenborough - would be hugely reduced.

(Credit: Unsplash)
(Credit: Unsplash)

The notion of a protecting half the earth's land and oceans was first put forward by nature conservationist E.O. Wilson in his book Half-Earth: Our Planet's Fight for Life.

Wilson proposed that 50 per cent of the earth's surface should be designated a human-free natural reserve to preserve biodiversity, arguing that "the biosphere does not belong to us, we belong to it."

"I propose," he wrote, "that only by committing half of the planet's surface to nature can we hope to save the immensity of life-forms that compose it."

Upcoming virtual event Half Earth Day, held on 22nd October 2020, brings together people from around the world and across disciplines to share their perspectives and thought leadership on now to achieve the goal of 'Half-Earth' and preserve our planet for future generations.

(Credit: Unsplash)
(Credit: Unsplash)

Those taking part include Wilson himself and award-winning actress and environmental advocate Glenn Close, along with many other special guests and members of the Half-Earth Project team and community.

Wilson's concerns regarding extinction rates - which he said in 2016 were "approaching a thousand times the baseline of what existed before humanity came along" - are supported by 2019 report from the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES).

The report found that over 1 million different species were at risk of extinction.

Equally worrying are statistics from the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), which reveal that nature preservation targets set a decade ago have yet to be met.

The CBD called for 17 per cent of the planet's land and 10 per cent of the planet's oceans to be protected by 2010.

(Credit: Unsplash)
(Credit: Unsplash)

Ten years on, in 2020, we are falling short of those targets, with around 16 per cent of land preserved and only 8 per cent of oceans.

The goal of preserving half the earth's lands and oceans faces multiple economic, political and societal challenges.

Vast countries like the USA and Brazil, whose involvement would have the potential to drive wide, systemic change, are currently at the other end of the environmental spectrum.

Trump's presidency has seen Obama's Landscape Conservation Cooperative Network dropped, while Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro is giving the go-ahead to logging operations in the Amazon rainforest.

Added to that, there are those who believe that preserving vast, untouched landscapes would only go so far in maintaining the health of our planet.

Conservation biologist Stuart Pimm, for example, previously argued that these expansive landscapes tend to be temperature in nature, meaning their preservation would not be as impactful.

Upcoming virtual event Half Earth Day takes place on 22nd October 2020.

Topics: Science, Life News, Life, Wildlife, Nature

Mary-Jane Wiltsher
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