This collection has been superseded by the Last of the Wild, Version 2.
Human influence on the earth’s land surface is a global driver of ecological processes on the planet, on par with climatic trends, geological forces and astronomical variations. The Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) and the Center for International Earth Science Information Network (CIESIN) at Columbia University joined together to systematically map and measure the human influence on the earth’s land surface today.
Our analysis indicates that 83% of the earth's land surface is influenced directly by human beings, whether through human land uses, human access from roads, railways or major rivers, electrical infrastructure (indicated by lights detected at night), or direct occupancy by human beings at densities above 1 person per square kilometer. We refer to the human influence on the land’s surface measure as the "Human Footprint."
It is within the approximately 17% of the earth's land’s surface relatively less influenced by human beings that some of the best conservation opportunities lie. In these few places, conservation may be less hampered by conflicts and the targets of conservation may continue to thrive into the future. We call these areas, identified by biome, "Last of the Wild."
The human footprint and the last of the wild datasets should not be used for local or regional conservation planning without consultation with local expertise.
A newer collection, Last of the Wild, v3, utilizing a different methodology for the years 1993 and 2009, is available.