Environmentalists decrying the state of our vanishing wilderness are not being dramatic, wilderness areas the size of Alaska are gone.

A paper published in the journal Current Biology put the decline of global wilderness areas in stark perspective -- a full one tenth has disappeared in 20 years. Drastic measures are needed to halt this terrifying trend.

Wilderness areas are a necessity in the global functioning of our planet. They are also a major resource for everything from pharmaceuticals to furniture.

Forests help absorb huge amounts of carbon and provide an environment for many endangered plants and animals. Many marginalized communities live in wilderness areas, surviving from natural resources that are locally available to them.

"Globally important wilderness areas -- despite being strongholds for endangered biodiversity, for buffering and regulating local climates, and for supporting many of the world's most politically and economically marginalized communities -- are completely ignored in environmental policy," associate professor at the School of Geography, Planning and Environmental Management of University of Queensland and Director of Science at the Wildlife Conservation Society James Watson said in a release.

"Without any policies to protect these areas, they are falling victim to widespread development. We probably have one to two decades to turn this around. International policy mechanisms must recognize the actions needed to maintain wilderness areas before it is too late. We probably have one to two decades to turn this around."

International cooperation on wide-sweeping policy changes are absolutely imperative to staunch the irreversible damage being done to our wilderness. South America and Africa have been disproportionately affected by the wilderness area decline.

The palm oil industry has been especially hard on wilderness areas. Ubiquitous in many food items and household products, the largely unregulated industry has led to deforestation of giant tracts of land.

Individuals can avoid unnecessary consumption, reduce waste and boycott products with palm oil in order to do their part in the effort against the loss of our wild spaces.