The March of the Human Footprint

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Eric Wayne Sanderson, Kim Fisher, Nathaniel Robinson, Dustin Sampson, Adam Duncan, Lucinda Royte


Human influence is driving planetary change, often in undesirable and unsustainable ways. Recent advances enabled us to measure changes in humanity’s footprint on Earth annually from 2000 – 2019 with a nine-fold improvement in spatial resolution over previous efforts. We found that earlier studies seriously under-estimated the magnitude, extent, and rate of change in the human footprint. Inclusion of newly available data sources suggest that human influence on the land surface grew faster in the five years prior to the COVID-19 pandemic than at any other time in the last 12,000 years. The global extent of uninfluenced areas declined by 23% over the last two decades, an area equivalent to one-third the land mass of the United States. By providing a mechanism to regularly update maps going forward, this work provides a foundation for more accurate, detailed and timely approaches to sustainability.



Arts and Humanities, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Environmental Indicators and Impact Assessment, Environmental Monitoring, Environmental Sciences, Geography, Human Geography, Life Sciences, Nature and Society Relations, Other Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Physical Sciences and Mathematics, Remote Sensing, Social and Behavioral Sciences, Spatial Science, Terrestrial and Aquatic Ecology


anthropogenic, Global, Human footprint, human modification, terrestrial


Published: 2022-09-29 13:39


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