Pulitzer-winning scientist warns wildlife face a 'biological holocaust'
A leading biologist has called for a radical conservation strategy in an attempt to prevent the 'mass extinction' of species
Half the planet should be set aside solely for the protection of wildlife to prevent the “mass extinction” of species, according to one of the world’s leading biologists.
The radical conservation strategy proposed by Dr E.O. Wilson, the hugely-influential 85-year old Harvard University scientist, would see humans essentially withdraw from half of the Earth.
Dr Wilson, a two-time Pulitzer Prize winner, warned that we are facing a “biological holocaust” as devastating as the extinction of the dinosaurs unless humans agree to share land more equally with the planet’s 10 million other species.
Outlining his audacious “Half Earth” theory, he said: “It’s been in my mind for years that people haven’t been thinking big enough – even conservationists.
“I see a chain of uninterrupted corridors forming, with twists and turns, some of them opening up to become wide enough to accommodate national biodiversity parks, a new kind of park that won’t let species vanish,” he told the journal of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington.
Dr Wilson, who is considered the world’s preeminent advocate of biodiversity, wants to create a series of “Long Landscape” wildlife chains to help species to respond to the effects of climate change by moving around.
These “corridors” running vertically down continents will let species move north as temperatures rise, for example, while those going horizontally will enable species to move east as rainfall declines in the west, Dr Wilson said.
He pointed to the Yellowstone-to-Yukon conservation initiative running 2,000 miles from Wyoming in the mid-west of the US to the Yukon territories in the north west of Canada as a good example of the kind of protected area he would like to see become extremely widespread. The area encompasses and protects an entire mountain eco-system, giving species 502,000 square miles of uninterrupted land to roam.
Scale is important because “islandisation” can have a disastrous impact on wildlife, according to Dr Wilson, whose theory of island biogeography is regarded as the authoritative explanation for why confined landscapes inevitably lose species.
Small areas can become islands, and without ‘bridges’ to connect them to similar habitats, species are more likely to become extinct. This is partly because wildlife need to draw from a broad gene pool to avoid the “genetic anomalies” that become more likely when breeding with relatives.
Furthermore, island populations are disproportionately vulnerable to disease, over hunting or catastrophic events like floods or fires and linking habitats together provides a life-line by helping the movement of species and their genes, scientists say.
Dr Wilson’s career has earned him huge credibility. But observers say he will have his work cut out translating his vision into anything approaching reality.
Even the hugely wealthy and sparsely populated US protects only four per cent of its land in the way Dr Wilson would like to see half of the entire world protected.
“Half earth is the goal but it’s how we get there, and whether we can come up with a system of wild landscapes we can hang on to,” says Dr Wilson. “Battles are where the fun is and where the most rapid advances are made,” he said.
Lincoln MP Karl McCartney 'denied all knowledge' of the Twitter activity
- 2 This letter from a reader explains why women can’t play football
- 4 Scientists predict green energy revolution after incredible new graphene discoveries
- 5 Obama: The only people with the right to object to immigration are Native Americans
Black Friday 2014: Opening times for Asda, John Lewis, GAME, PC World and Argos
Miss Honduras Maria Jose Alvarado's stylist Luis Alfredo Garcia is found stabbed to death
Sean Abbott: Messages of support flood in for bowler following death of batsman Phil Hughes
Kim Jong-un proves 'in dire need of allies' within his own government as younger sister appointed to senior role
Dr Lam Hoe Yeoh: Voyeur doctor jailed for eight years after using network of hidden cameras to film patients, colleagues and friends on the toilet
Ukip says babies born to immigrants in the UK should be classed as migrants – which would include Nigel Farage’s own children
Rochester by-election: Ukip gains second MP as Tory defector Mark Reckless holds seat
'Beast of Bolsover' Dennis Skinner takes Ukip MP Mark Reckless to task moments after he is sworn in
The young are the new poor: Sharp increase in number of under-25s living in poverty, while over-65s are better off than ever
Tamir Rice: 12-year-old boy playing with fake gun dies after being shot by Ohio police
Rochester aftermath: Sacking of Emily Thornberry will make work of Labour MPs '10 times harder'
Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: SURREY MARKET TOWN - SENIOR PROPERTY SOLICITOR...
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: What do you want to do with your career? Do yo...
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This company is a leading expert in immunoassa...
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Development Scientist is required to join a ...