More than 11 percent of Earth is Protected, But Species Still Suffer

There’s good news and bad news from the fifth World Parks Congress, being held this week in Durban, South Africa. The good news: There are now more than 100, 000 protected natural areas on the planet, including large stretches of the Amazon rainforest and the Arctic tundra. The bad news: More than 700 endangered animal species risk extinction because their habitats are not shielded from development. Overall, 11.5 percent of the Earth’s land surface (7.26 million square miles, or an area about the size of South America) is protected to some degree, but marine ecosystems are not faring as well, with less than 0.5 percent of the world’s oceans and seas protected. Europe has the most protected areas (43,000), but Central and South America have the highest percentage of land under protection — more than 25 percent.