It’s Time for the World Heritage Convention to Step Up Protection of Globally Significant Wilderness Areas; James Allan, James Watson, Bastian Bertzky & Tilman Jaeger; National Geographic Society

Thailand – Thungyai-Huai Kha Khaeng Wildlife Sanctuaries

Earth’s last intact wilderness areas are being rapidly degraded. Predominantly free of human uses, especially industrial scale activities, large wilderness areas support an exceptional collection of globally significant environmental values, including very rich and often endangered biodiversity and critical ecosystem services such as carbon sequestration and storage and water provision. Many indigenous people and local communities, which are often politically and economically marginalized, depend on wilderness areas for their subsistence and have deep bio-cultural connections.

Somewhat incredibly, more than 2 million square miles of terrestrial wilderness (around 10 percent of the total area) were lost in just the last two decades. If this continues, the consequences for both people and nature will be catastrophic.

Despite being irreplaceable and increasingly threatened, wilderness areas remain under-valued, under-protected, and have been almost completely ignored in international environmental policy. Immediate proactive action is required to save them.

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