Maps play an important role in conveying crucial information on where conservation efforts should be carried out. On March 10th, 2020, the Department of Environment and Sustainability at Catawba and the Center for the Environment hosted Dr. Jason Riggio from UC Davis. Dr. Riggio gave a presentation on his collaborative work with the National Geographic Society that recently published maps on the low human impact areas across the world.

Their maps revealed that at least 56% of the planet has low impact use, which is both a good and worrying sign. This is because the 56% is mostly in the tundra, boreal, deserts and high mountain ecosystems where the land has low productivity and fewer species of plants and animals. The study unsurprisingly showed that areas with high productivity such as flooded grasslands, tropical rain-forests, and temperate forests had the highest human impacts.

Dr. Riggio argued that we ought to pay keen attention to the areas of high human impact by finding ways to protect what is left of it through wildlife corridors between parks. At the same time, we need to ensure the low impact areas continue remaining intact if not expanded. One of the audience members added that she was increasing the native vegetation and promoting local biodiversity by creating more spaces where native vegetation could grow. It’s small steps like these that count towards increasing the areas under low human impact globally.