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Global analysis finds nearly half the Earth is still wilderness

December 4, 2002 (Washington, DC) According to the most comprehensive global analysis ever conducted, wilderness areas still cover close to half the Earth's land, but contain only a tiny percentage of the world's population. More than 200 international scientists contributed to the analysis, which will be published in the book, Wilderness: Earth's Last Wild Places, (University of Chicago Press, 2003).

The 37 wilderness areas identified in the book represent 46 percent of the Earth's land surface, but are occupied by just 2.4 percent of the world's population, excluding urban centers. Nine of the wilderness areas fall, at least in part, within the United States.

Although the wilderness areas are still largely intact, they are increasingly threatened by population growth, encroaching agriculture and resource extraction activities. Barely 7 percent of the areas currently enjoy some form of protection.

Nineteen of the wilderness areas have remarkably low population densities an average of less than one person per square kilometer. Excluding urban centers, these 19 areas represent 38 percent of the Earth's land surface, but hold only 0.7 percent of the planet's population.

"These very low density areas represent a landmass equivalent to the six largest countries on Earth combined Russia, Canada, China, the United States, Brazil and Australia but have within them the population of only three large cities, a truly remarkable finding," said co-author Russell Mittermeier, President of Conservation International. "It's good news that we still have these large tracts of land largely intact and uninhabited, but these areas are increasingly under threat."

The large-format, 576-page book depicts rare species and remarkable places in more than 500 breathtaking color photographs that accompany detailed information regarding the habitat, species and cultural diversity of each wilderness area. The analysis was mainly carried out over t
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Contact: Brad Phillips
b.phillips@conservation.org
202-912-1532
Conservation International
4-Dec-2002


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