Title: Recent increases in human pressure and forest loss threaten many Natural World Heritage Sites
Citation: BIOLOGICAL CONSERVATION vol. 206 p. 47-55
Publication Year: 2017
JRC N°: JRC99538
ISSN: 0006-3207
URI: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0006320716310138
DOI: 10.1016/j.biocon.2016.12.011
Type: Articles in periodicals and books
Abstract: Natural World Heritage Sites (NWHS), via their formal designation through the United Nations, are globally recognized as containing someof the Earth's most valuable natural assets. Understanding changes in their ecological condition is essential for their ongoing preservation. Here we use two newly available globally consistent data sets that assess changes in human pressure (Human Footprint) and forest loss (Global ForestWatch) over time across the global network of terrestrial NWHS. We show that human pressure has increased in 63% of NWHS since 1993 and across all continents except Europe. The largest increases in pressure occurred in Asian NWHS, many of which were substantially damaged such as Manas Wildlife Sanctuary. Forest loss occurred in 91% of NWHS that contain forests, with a global mean loss of 1.5% per site since 2000, with the largest areas of forest lost occurring in the Americas. For example Wood Buffalo National Park and Río Plátano Biosphere Reserve lost 2581 km2 (11.7%) and 365 km2 (8.5%) of their forest respectively. We found that on average human pressure increased faster and more forest loss occurred in areas surrounding NWHS, suggesting they are becoming increasingly isolated and are under threat fromprocesses occurring outside their borders.While some NWHS such as the Sinharaja Forest Reserve and Mana Pools National Park showed minimal change in forest loss or human pressure, they are in the minority and our results also suggest manyNWHS are rapidly deteriorating and are more threatened than previously thought.
JRC Directorate:Sustainable Resources

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