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Earth System Dynamics An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Discussion papers
https://doi.org/10.5194/esdd-3-433-2012
© Author(s) 2012. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/esdd-3-433-2012
© Author(s) 2012. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

Research article 25 Jun 2012

Research article | 25 Jun 2012

Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. A revision of the manuscript for further review has not been submitted.

Estimated impact of global population growth on future wilderness extent

E. Dumont E. Dumont
  • Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, Wallingford, UK

Abstract. Wilderness areas in the world are threatened by the environmental impacts of the growing global human population. This study estimates the impact of birth rate on the future surface area of biodiverse wilderness and on the proportion of this area without major extinctions. The following four drivers are considered: human population growth (1), agricultural efficiency (2), groundwater drawdown by irrigation (3), and non-agricultural space used by humans (buildings, gardens, roads, etc.) (4). This study indicates that the surface area of biodiverse unmanaged land will reduce with about 5.4% between 2012 and 2050. Further, it indicates that the biodiverse land without major extinctions will reduce with about 10.5%. These percentages are based on a commonly used population trajectory which assumes that birth rates across the globe will reduce in a similar way as has occurred in the past in many developed countries. Future birth rate is however very uncertain. Plausible future birth rates lower than the expected rates lead to much smaller reductions in surface area of biodiverse unmanaged land (0.7% as opposed to 5.4%), and a reduction in the biodiverse land without major extinctions of about 5.6% (as opposed to 10.5%). This indicates that birth rate is an important factor influencing the quality and quantity of wilderness remaining in the future.

E. Dumont
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Status: closed (peer review stopped)
Status: closed (peer review stopped)
AC: Author comment | RC: Referee comment | SC: Short comment | EC: Editor comment
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Interactive discussion
Status: closed (peer review stopped)
Status: closed (peer review stopped)
AC: Author comment | RC: Referee comment | SC: Short comment | EC: Editor comment
Printer-friendly Version - Printer-friendly version Supplement - Supplement
E. Dumont
E. Dumont
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