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New Research: “Humans Used Three Quarters of the Earth 12,000 Years ago” |  Science and Planet

New Research: “Humans Used Three Quarters of the Earth 12,000 Years ago” | Science and Planet

Human inhabited and used nearly three quarters of the world 12,000 years ago. This was stated by an international team of geographers, natural scientists, and other experts. They said that untouched areas over which humans have no control were “as rare as they are now.”

In their article, the scientists explained that humans are leaving their imprint on their natural environment on most parts of the earth by using land for thousands of years. The University of Utrecht summarizes the study: “This research challenges previous studies indicating that most of the Earth on Earth was relatively untouched until the late Middle Ages.”

Researcher Kees Klein Goldewijk from UU contributed to the research with a database full of historical data on land use. He combined his knowledge with those of his colleagues from the United States, China, Germany, Australia and Argentina. Their results were consistent. “Our research shows the connections between humans and nature that last for thousands of years,” he says. According to him, these links are “essential to understanding how we ended up in the present and how we can achieve a more sustainable future.”


People used to handle their environment better than they are now. The current biodiversity crisis, the global degradation of many species, is not the result of the destruction of previously untouched natural areas, according to the scientists. Instead, they seek the cause of excessive land use, which was previously managed in a sustainable manner.

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The team of geographers, archaeologists, anthropologists, ecologists and naturalists see a role for indigenous peoples in preserving nature and biodiversity. The scientists say in the scientific journal that the way they have used the earth for a long time “has helped preserve biological diversity in the long term.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

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