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J.-C. Svenning

People have shaped most of terrestrial nature for at least 12,000 years

Publikation: Bidrag til tidsskrift/Konferencebidrag i tidsskrift /Bidrag til avisTidsskriftartikelForskningpeer review

DOI

  • Erle C. Ellis, University of Maryland, Baltimore County
  • ,
  • Nicolas Gauthier, University of Arizona
  • ,
  • Kees Klein Goldewijk, PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency, Utrecht University
  • ,
  • Rebecca Bliege Bird, Pennsylvania State University
  • ,
  • Nicole Boivin, Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History, University of Queensland
  • ,
  • Sandra Díaz, Universidad Nacional de Cordoba
  • ,
  • Dorian Q. Fuller, University College London, Northwest University China
  • ,
  • Jacquelyn L. Gill, University of Maine
  • ,
  • Jed O. Kaplan, University of Hong Kong
  • ,
  • Naomi Kingston, WCMC
  • ,
  • Harvey Locke, Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative
  • ,
  • Crystal N.H. McMichael, University of Amsterdam
  • ,
  • Darren Ranco, University of Maine
  • ,
  • Torben C. Rick, Smithsonian Institution
  • ,
  • M. Rebecca Shaw, The World Wide Fund for Nature
  • ,
  • Lucas Stephens, Duke University
  • ,
  • Jens Christian Svenning
  • James E.M. Watson, University of Queensland, Wildlife Conservation Society

Archaeological and paleoecological evidence shows that by 10,000 BCE, all human societies employed varying degrees of ecologically transformative land use practices, including burning, hunting, species propagation, domestication, cultivation, and others that have left long-term legacies across the terrestrial biosphere. Yet, a lingering paradigm among natural scientists, conservationists, and policymakers is that human transformation of terrestrial nature is mostly recent and inherently destructive. Here, we use the most up-to-date, spatially explicit global reconstruction of historical human populations and land use to show that this paradigm is likely wrong. Even 12,000 y ago, nearly three quarters of Earth’s land was inhabited and therefore shaped by human societies, including more than 95% of temperate and 90% of tropical woodlands. Lands now characterized as “natural,” “intact,” and “wild” generally exhibit long histories of use, as do protected areas and Indigenous lands, and current global patterns of vertebrate species richness and key biodiversity areas are more strongly associated with past patterns of land use than with present ones in regional landscapes now characterized as natural. The current biodiversity crisis can seldom be explained by the loss of uninhabited wildlands, resulting instead from the appropriation, colonization, and intensifying use of the biodiverse cultural landscapes long shaped and sustained by prior societies. Recognizing this deep cultural connection with biodiversity will therefore be essential to resolve the crisis.

OriginalsprogEngelsk
Artikelnummere2023483118
TidsskriftProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Vol/bind118
Nummer17
ISSN0027-8424
DOI
StatusUdgivet - apr. 2021

Bibliografisk note

Funding Information:
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS. We thank the editor and three anonymous reviewers for helpful advice that greatly improved this manuscript. N.B. was supported by the Max Planck Society. S.D. has been partly supported by the Newton Fund (Natural Environmental Research Council-UK and CONICET-Argentina), and the Inter-American Institute for Climate Change Research Small Grant Program 090. J.G. was supported by NSF CAREER grant EAR-1753186. J.C.S. was supported by VILLUM FONDEN Investigator grant 16549. David Tryse and Tanya Birch of Google Earth Outreach provided invaluable assistance with online mapping. The research reported in this paper contributes to the Global Land Programme (GLP.earth).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.

Copyright:
Copyright 2021 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.

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