The Earth is running out of wilderness

The Earth is running out of wilderness, as farmland and city landscapes are increasing.

Humans use about 40% of the land on Earth for farmland. Land on Earth in this case includes Antarctica and the far north. In fact, most of the land that hasn’t been farmed is either too cold for most plants  or too dry. The only real lush natural areas left are forests like the Amazon, and even these are dwindling.

Crops cover a third of the land being farmed, while cows and other animals graze on the other two thirds. That means we use more land to farm animals than we do to grow everything else altogether.

Another 37% of land on Earth is being used by humans for cities, managed landscapes/forests, etc.

As farmed species and human structures take over most of the places where stuff can grow, the wilderness disappears. Scientists are calling the planet’s sixth mass extinction and this is a large part of the why: wild species have nowhere to live.

28% of land on Earth is wilderness, as nature continues to shrink. 

What can we do about it? The population will continue to grow, you might be thinking?

We can protect more wilderness, design wilderness into city and agricultural land, eat less meat and increase our knowledge in this area. Start with what you can control in your world. From there it will ripple out to others.


Mark van Engelen is founder Nya Sustainability Consulting, a consulting firm helping organizations implement sustainability. Services include sustainability strategy development, zero waste planning, GHG emissions calculating and planning, energy/water management, employee engagement and guidance in B Corp and carbon neutral certification.


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