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Roads Shattered Earth's Surface Into 600,000 Fragments, Roadless Areas Need Urgent Protection

Dec 19, 2016 04:31 AM EST
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Experts say the roadless areas in the world is in need of protection since the infrastructures allowing transportation to flow have already shattered the Earth's surface into 600,000 fragments.

Although it is undeniable that roads allow easy access for humans to reach many different regions, it has a very high ecological price to pay.

The new global world map of roadless areas revealed the data and the fact that many roadless areas in the world remain vulnerable and unprotected.

The new study published in the Science journal stated that 36 million kilometers of roads on the surface of the planet shattered it into 600,000 fragments. The report also stated that only about 7 percent of the roads are more than 100 kilometers and only 9 percent of roadless areas are protected. Based on the study 80 percent of the Earth surface is still road free, however, it is divided into 600,000 patches with more than half of it is less than 1 square kilometer.

Biggest strips are found in Eurasia, North America, Africa, Southeast Asia, and South America. Although essential in commercialization and urbanization, building roads drastically damage nature. Disruption of natural flow, animal populations, soil erosion, and river contamination are some of the negative effects of road building.

"Our global map provides guidance on the location of the most valuable roadless areas. In many cases, they represent remaining tracks of extensive functional ecosystems and are of key significance to ecological processes, such as regulating the hydrological cycle and the climate," Pierre Ibisch, study lead author from the Centre for Econics and Ecosystem Management at Eberswalde University for Sustainable Development said in a press release.

To produce the 3D global map of roadless areas, researchers used databases collected from crowdsourcing. The researchers used two global sources OpenStreetMap and gRoads to create the 3D map. In addition, they also integrated data from about 282 publications, according to BBC.

However, the researchers admitted that the data gathered might still be incomplete. But the study reiterates that there is a global and urgent need to conserve roadless areas. Nevertheless, the data already available already calls for an immediate action or else there will be lesser forests and road-free areas in the future.


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