Thanks to an international study, the damage caused to diversity by bulldozers from deforestation, poaching weapons and traps and other man-made evils that affect 84% of the area is shown for the first time on a map. land.
Anthropic activities are putting pressure on the environment causing a great imbalance, tens of thousands of species could be affected. Biodiversity is at risk, mainly due to deforestation, illegal hunting, the advance of the agricultural frontier and cities over natural environments.
An international team of scientists, led by the University of Queensland in Australia, has produced world maps that indicate which countries have the greatest impact on the environment.
“The work underscores how advanced the extinction crisis is and points out the number of species that are in danger. It is very worrying", cautions Sinc James Allan, first author of the study and researcher at the School of Biological Sciences of the Australian university.
The most affected regions
The researchers mapped the distribution of the most destructive human activities such as poaching, deforestation and other changes in land use in the habitats of 5,457 threatened species of birds, mammals and amphibians around the world.
According to these maps, 84% of the Earth's surface has impacts on animal and plant species. The area that is most at risk is the one that contains the greatest biodiversity on the planet: Southeast Asia. In this region are the five most affected countries in the world: Malaysia, Brunei, Singapore, Indonesia and Thailand. "The Atlantic rainforests of Brazil are also very affected," adds Allan.
The results also indicate that a quarter of the evaluated species, that is 1,237, are affected by threats that cover more than 90% of their habitat. "7%, or 395 species, are affected by threats throughout their range, including many large mammals," such as African lions, elephants, tigers, rhinoceros hornbills and giant Malayan frogs. explained the biologist.
And he added: "Fully affected species will face extinction." The team of scientists fear that due to this distribution of threats, species in danger of extinction will decrease, and possibly become extinct in the most sensitive areas where conservation actions are not taken.
Shelter areas are hope
The study also focused on locating wildlife refuges and hazard-free areas on maps where species are not affected and can survive without human pressure.
These maps will serve as tools to guide actions and protect species. But for this, the first step is to secure shelters in protected areas
"These 'cold spots' are found in the Amazon rainforest, the Andes mountains, parts of Liberia in West Africa and also in Southeast Asia, along with some of the most threatened areas," says the scientist.
James Watson, a co-author of the work and a researcher at the University of Queensland and the Wildlife Conservation Society, confirms that actively fighting these types of threats works. "Species recover when conservation actions have clear objectives and are endowed with good resources," he concludes.
Map of refuge areas. / James Allan et al.
James R. Allan et al. "Hotspots of human impact on threatened terrestrial vertebrates"PLoS Biology March 12, 2019
With information from: