Currently, just over 15 percent of the world’s land is made up of national parks and other protected areas that people are not allowed to develop. To save the planet from the increasingly devastating effects of climate change and habitat loss, that number has to be much higher – around 50 percent, according to a new analysis published in Advances in science.
Researchers from RESOLVE, the University of Minnesota, Arizona State University and Globaïa have over the past two years identified a “global safety net” for the most important regions that we need to preserve not only to slow down climate change, but also around the plants and animals of the earth to protect species. They divided the country into five categories ̵
The light blue areas are climate stabilization areas that are particularly well equipped for storing carbon. With humans emitting such large amounts of carbon from burning fossil fuels, it’s critical that we fortify forests, grasslands, and other terrain that it can soak up before it adds to global warming. (And of course we have to work first and foremost on reducing our CO2 emissions.)
Areas with high biodiversity and areas with rare species are dark green and pink, respectively. While protecting the earth’s fascinating flora and fauna is an end goal in itself, there is another reason we should keep these ecosystems intact. When humans invade habitats and essentially drive out their inhabitants, we increase our chances of being exposed to new germs. When more diseases make the leap from animals to people – called zoonotic diseases– It could lead to more pandemics.
The global safety net is not just for personal insight. How Fast company According to reports, the researchers hope governments around the world will use the data to inform future conservation laws.
“We now have a detailed global map that will serve as a guide to re-establishing human relationships with nature,” said Tanya Birch, program manager for Google Earth Engine, in a press release. “Using advanced computer technologies, the global safety net provides an actionable and dynamic roadmap to save our planet. Technology enables science on a large scale … and science is clear, the time to act is now. “
[h/t Fast Company]