Humans have shaped the Earth’s ecology for at least 12,000 years

Humans have shaped the Earth's ecology for at least 12,000 years
Angkor, Cambodia: Ancient civilizations have changed ecosystems, but rarely do mankind do so today. Sincerely: Pixels

A large international study suggests that the use of land by human society has re-shaped the ecology in most parts of our planet for at least 12,000 years. Research teams from more than ten institutes around the world revealed that the main cause of the current biodiversity crisis is not human destruction of uninhabited forested areas, but Appropriation, colonization and acute use The earlier lands were managed in a sustainable manner. Was work Published Na Revista “Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS)”

The new data overturn previous reconstructions of the global history of land use, some of which indicated that much of the planet’s land was uninhabited, even more recently, in 1500 AD. Furthermore, the new study supports the argument that there is an essential way to an end. Present Biodiversity crisis Enable the earth Environmental management of indigenous people and local communities All over the planet.

“Our work suggests that most areas described as ‘untouched’, ‘wild’ and ‘natural’ are, in fact, areas with a long history of occupation and human use,” Professor Ellis Ellis of Geography and Environmental Systems Said, University of Maryland in Baltimore County (UMBC, USA) and lead author of the study. He noted that these areas can be interpreted as such, because in them, “societies have used their landscapes in ways that maintain most of their original biodiversity and even their biodiversity, Also increase productivity and flexibility ”.

12,000 years of land use mapping

The interdisciplinary research team includes geographers, archaeologists, anthropologists, ecology and conservation scientists. They represent the United States, Holland, China, Germany, Australia and Argentina, bringing together their knowledge and experience in a large-scale study that requires a highly collaborative approach. Researchers tested the degree to which land use and population patterns over 12,000 years were statistically associated with contemporary global patterns of high biodiversity value in priority areas for conservation.

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“Our global maps show that even 12,000 years ago, about three-quarters of Earth’s nature was inhabited, used, and shaped by people,” Ellis said. “Areas untouched by people were around 12,000 years ago as they are today.”

Maps created for study are available for interactive visualization Online.

The five maps depict changes in the anthropome (anthropogenic biome) and the global population from 10,000 BCE to 2017 AD. Credit: Elle Ellis, Professor of Geography and Environmental Systems at the University of Maryland in Baltimore County (UMBC)
Commonly Sustainable Biodiversity

Cultural practices of earlier land users had some impact on extinction. However, in general, land use by indigenous and traditional communities has maintained the vast majority of the Earth’s biodiversity for millennia. This discovery comes at a critical time to develop long-term sustainable responses to our biggest environmental problems.

“The problem is not human use per se,” said Nicole Boivin, professor and co-author of the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History in Jena (Germany). “The problem is the type of land use that we see in industrial societies – characterized by sustainable agricultural practices and asymptomatic extraction and appropriation.”

To truly understand terrestrial nature today, it is necessary to understand the profound human history of that nature. Outside of some remote areas, “nature as we know it has been shaped by human societies over thousands of years,” Ellis said. He believes that “efforts to conserve and reestablish will not succeed without empowering indigenous, traditional and local people who know their nature in ways that scientists have just begun to understand.”

Support for indigenous land use practices

The authors argue that their findings confirm that biodiversity conservation and restoration will benefit the focus of land conservation by imagining it as “untouched” to support indigenous and traditional people whose land use The practices have helped sustain biodiversity for a long time.

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“This study confirms on a scale that was not previously understood that indigenous people have been managing and influencing ecosystems for thousands of years, mainly in positive ways,” Darren J. Ranko, Associate Professor at the University of Anthropology and Nine American Research Coordinator, said. (USA). “These discoveries are of particular relevance to contemporary indigenous rights and self-determination.”

For the civilian ranks of the peninsula indigenous nation (USA), indigenous people currently use some level of management of about 5% of the world’s land, where 80% of the world’s biodiversity exists. Nevertheless, indigenous people were excluded from the management, access, and habitat of protected land in places such as national parks in the United States.

“We should also ensure that new efforts to protect land and biodiversity are not just a green appropriation of indigenous land,” Ranko said. “We cannot recreate the worst of colonial policies designed to exclude indigenous people. This will undoubtedly make the situation much worse for the environment and for humanity. “

A sustainable future

“Our research demonstrates the relationship between people and nature for thousands of years,” said Toreen Rick, co-author of the study of North American Archeology at the National Museum of Natural History at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington and the US. . “These connections are necessary to understand how we approach the present and achieve a more sustainable future.”

Research represents a new form of collaboration between scholars of archeology, science of global change, conservation and indigenous knowledge. The co-authors hope that this work will open the door to increasing the use of historical data on global land use by natural scientists, lawmakers, activists, and others. Leaders in various fields can use this data, they better understand and collaborate with indigenous, traditional and local people to conserve biodiversity and ecosystems in the long run.

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Rebecca Shaw, chief scientist at the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and another co-author of the study, said, “It is clear that the approach of locals and local people should be at the forefront of global negotiations to reduce the loss of biodiversity. ” . “There is a global crisis in the way traditionally used land has been transformed by the scale and magnitude of human development. If we have to sustain humanity for the next 12,000 years then we must change course. “

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