The importance of wilderness

“Wilderness areas act as a buffer against species loss, as the extinction risk for species within wilderness communities is—on average—less than half that of species in non-wilderness communities.” 1

A recent study published in the Journal Nature titled “Wilderness Areas Half The Extinction Risk of Terrestrial Biodiversity” mapped several locations around the world where maintaining wilderness areas should be a priority. The first statement the authors make in the abstract in this paper really hit the nail on the head for me.

“Reducing the rate of global biodiversity loss is a major challenge facing humanity, as the consequences of biological annihilation would be irreversible for humankind. 1

In this single sentence the authors make clear that the steady march of human activity, as currently, conducted could potential be catastrophic to all life on earth.

“Wilderness areas act as a buffer against species loss, as the extinction risk for species within wilderness communities is—on average—less than half that of species in non-wilderness communities.” 1

The paper points to several locations on the plant especially important to protect yet the authors also state that all wilderness areas have intrinsic conservation value thus we can all play a role by supporting local conservation efforts of wilderness area near to each of us. Below we showcase a few wilderness area we have recently spent time in. They are both beautiful as well as safe havens for biodiversity.

Click any photo for slide show.

Absoroka-Beartooh and Lee Metcalf wilderness areas.


1. Reference: Di Marco, M., Ferrier, S., Harwood, T.D. et al. Wilderness areas halve the extinction risk of terrestrial biodiversity. Nature 573, 582–585 (2019) doi:10.1038/s41586-019-1567-7

For a short summary of the article visit Science daily.

A couple of groups that support the missions of wilderness as a buffer for biological diversity are:
The Wilderness Society
The Half-Earth Project

13 thoughts on “The importance of wilderness

  1. I think It might not be so much human activities as it is shear numbers. Would we be discussing any of this if the population was one billion?
    Simply put……..the more of us…the less of them.
    If we want to protect the wilderness than we need to reduce the population, but we both know that ain’t going to happen. Just wait and see the state of affairs when we hit 15 billion!
    The worse thing about this is that we cannot do a single thing to control the population,unless one decides not to have children.


    1. Hi Wayne, an dyes the growing population and consumption associated will eventually lead to much destruction unless put into check. How that occurs is what seems a taboo conversation. It feels like talking about how to limit population growth is verboten. I hope not to be around when we have 15 billion.

      You can’t grow bacteria in a petri dish forever and the same goes for human on a planet.

      Time will tell but until then we can at least try?


      1. that is the root of many problems we have Mike,over population…….and there isn’t a dam thing anybody can do about it…..except Mother Nature with another pandemic but even than that’ll only be a temporary set back. Our numbers will be right back up again in ten years or so?
        great discussion Mike!


    1. Hi Kit, yes we need to work hard to protect what we have left. Wilderness is a reserve of biological diversity and the template for life to continue on this planet. Once it’s gone who knows?


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