A World at Risk: Aggregating Development Trends to Forecast Global Habitat Conversion

| October 17, 2015 | Leave a Comment

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Media Type: Article - Recent

Date of Publication: October 7, 2015

Year of Publication: 2015

Publication City: San Francisco, CA

Publisher: PLOS

Author(s): James R Oakleaf, Christina M Kennedy, Sharon Baruch-Mordo, Paul C West, James S Gerber, Larissa Jarvis, Joseph Kiesecker

Journal: PLOS ONE

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With a growing and increasingly affluent human population demands for fuel, water, space, materials, and food are expected to accelerate habitat modification. The authors project and aggregate global spatial patterns of development to get a better sense of where and by how much this habitat modification will take place.

ABSTRACT: A growing and more affluent human population is expected to increase the demand for resources and to accelerate habitat modification, but by how much and where remains unknown. Here we project and aggregate global spatial patterns of expected urban and agricultural expansion, conventional and unconventional oil and gas, coal, solar, wind, biofuels and mining development. Cumulatively, these threats place at risk 20% of the remaining global natural lands (19.68 million km2) and could result in half of the world’s biomes becoming >50% converted while doubling and tripling the extent of land converted in South America and Africa, respectively. Regionally, substantial shifts in land conversion could occur in Southern and Western South America, Central and Eastern Africa, and the Central Rocky Mountains of North America. With only 5% of the Earth’s at-risk natural lands under strict legal protection, estimating and proactively mitigating multi-sector development risk is critical for curtailing the further substantial loss of nature.

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