Wednesday, 21 December 2016

A global map of roadless areas and their conservation status.

2016 Dec 16;354(6318):1423-1427.

Author information

  • 1Centre for Econics and Ecosystem Management, Eberswalde University for Sustainable Development, Alfred-Moeller-Straße 1, 16225 Eberswalde, Germany.
  • 2Society for Conservation Biology-Europe Section, 1133 15th Street Northwest, Suite 300, Washington, DC 20005, USA.
  • 3Department of Conservation Biology,UFZ-Centre for Environmental Research, Permoserstraße 15, 04318 Leipzig, Germany.
  • 4German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig, Deutscher Platz 5e, 04103 Leipzig, Germany.
  • 5Department of Environmental and Natural Resources Management, University of Patras, Seferi 2, 30100 Agrinio, Greece.
  • 6Department for Ecology and Natural Resources Management, Center of Development Research, University of Bonn, Walter-Flex-Straße 3, 53113 Bonn, Germany.
  • 7Geos Institute, 84 4th Street, Ashland, OR 97520, USA.
  • 8Society for Conservation Biology-North America Section, 1133 15th Street Northwest, Suite 300, Washington, DC 20005, USA.
  • 9Department of Ecology, Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, Av. Brg. Trompowski s/n, 21044-020 Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
  • 10Society for Conservation Biology-Latin America and Caribbean Section, 1133 15th Street Northwest, Suite 300, Washington, DC 20005, USA.
  • 11Writtle College, Lordship Road, Writtle, Chelmsford, Essex CM1 3RR, 01245 42420, UK.
  • 12Institute of Nature Conservation, Polish Academy of Sciences, Mickiewicza 33, 31-120 Kraków, Poland.


Roads fragment landscapes and trigger human colonization and degradation of ecosystems, to the detriment of biodiversity and ecosystem functions. The planet's remaining large and ecologically important tracts of roadless areas sustain key refugia for biodiversity and provide globally relevant ecosystem services. Applying a 1-kilometer buffer to all roads, we present a global map of roadless areas and an assessment of their status, quality, and extent of coverage by protected areas. About 80% of Earth's terrestrial surface remains roadless, but this area is fragmented into ~600,000 patches, more than half of which are <1 square kilometer and only 7% of which are larger than 100 square kilometers. Global protection of ecologically valuable roadless areas is inadequate. International recognition and protection of roadless areas is urgently needed to halt their continued loss.