NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Environmental Group Finds Abundant Wilderness

December 6, 2002

Conservation International, an environmental group, has found that wilderness areas cover nearly half of the Earth's land surface -- and are inhabited by only a small part of the planet's human population. More than 200 scientists participated in the group's global analysis.

Here are a few of their findings:

  • Thirty-seven wilderness areas on 46 percent of the Earth's land are occupied by 2.4 percent of the world's population.
  • These low-density areas represent a land mass 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.
  • Wilderness was defined as areas of approximately 4,000 square miles with 70 percent or more of original vegetation intact.
  • Five wilderness areas contain at least 1,500 plant species restricted to those areas and found nowhere else in the world: Amazonia, the Congo forests of Central Africa, New Guinea, the North American deserts, and the Miombo-Mopane Woodlands and Grasslands in Southern Africa.

Republicans in the West welcomed the research and said they were surprised an international environmental group agreed with them on the abundance of wilderness left on the planet, saying it debunks the claims of extremist environmentalists that the sky is falling when it comes to protecting our environment.

Source: Audrey Hudson, "Study Says Nearly Half of Earth's Land Surface Still Wild," Washington Times, December 6, 2002.


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