Where the Wild Things were is Where Humans are Now: an Overview

Abstract

Humanity is undergoing an unprecedented demographic transformation in that global population is rising from 2 billion in the 1920s to an expected 8 billion in the 2020s, an annual increase of roughly 80 million. The requirements of this expanding human population are strongly linked to depletion of wildlife and increasing difficulties facing both wildlife and environmental conservation efforts. I assess current and potential risks stemming from the environmental changes due to unchecked human population growth.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    Areas in which human activities such as livestock grazing, hunting, logging, or cultivation are restricted (Watson et al.2014).

  2. 2.

    At this writing it has been supplanted by a hotspot in the Philippines with an average 345 ppl/km2 (Cincotta et al.2000; Cunningham and Beazley 2018).

  3. 3.

    In much of the Congo Basin bushmeat is the primary source of protein (Wilkie and Carpenter 1999), especially where livestock husbandry is not a practical option and wild fish not available.

  4. 4.

    Studies point to a 25–75% area of protection, or even the widely discussed ‘Half-Earth’ with its goal of 50% protection, instead of the current aim of 17% for terrestrial areas and inland water and 10% for marine and coastal areas (Noss et al.2012; Convention on Biological Diversity 2013https://www.cbd.int/doc/strategic-plan/targets/compilation-quick-guide-en.pdf; Büscher et al. 2017https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/oryx/article/halfearth-or-whole-earth-radical-ideas-for-conservation-and-their-implications/C62CCE8DA34480A048468EE39DF2BD05; Baillie and Zhang 2018))

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Correspondence to J. L. R. Abegão.

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Abegão, J.L.R. Where the Wild Things were is Where Humans are Now: an Overview. Hum Ecol 47, 669–679 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10745-019-00099-3

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Keywords

  • Overpopulation
  • Population growth
  • Habitat and wildlife conservation
  • Biodiversity
  • Environmental degradation