Half Earth

IMG_1124E. O. Wilson and other prominent biologists have a rallying cry for conservationists like you and me: let’s set aside half of planet Earth as protected wild landscapes and let’s do it right now. In order to provide sheltering and traveling habitat for the 10 million species we share the planet with and to prevent a contemporary mass extinction, we must establish expansive wild areas where species of all kinds can thrive.

Tony Hiss evocatively describes why this is so important in his article, “Can the World Really Set Aside Half of the Planet for Wildlife?” in the September 2014 issue of Smithsonian Magazine. Called long landscapes, conservation visionaries describe well-connected parks and landscapes that would be so broad that you would almost always be in a park or in a landscape leading to one. This vision requires us to think beyond traditional parks with their well-defined boundaries and challenges us to think about how all landowners can provide protective habitat for flora and fauna.

Only 10-15% of Earth’s land is protected today. Thankfully, 29% of the coast redwood range is already protected – an inspirational conservation feat that shows conserving wild landscapes is possible. Among the redwoods, let’s continue our protection work and not stop until at least 50% of the coast redwood range is protected. Let’s create our own long landscapes to keep our parks from losing biodiversity overtime as roads, urban encroachment, and climate change intensities. I know  the “Half Earth” vision is possible among the redwoods and we are up for the challenge.

Learn more about the League’s redwood conservation program here.

About the author

Emily Burns, the League’s former Director of Science, led the research program that includes the Redwoods and Climate Change Initiative. She holds a PhD in Integrative Biology on the impacts of fog on coast redwood forest flora from the University of California, Berkeley.

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