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The "Reconnaissance-Level Inventory of the Amount of Wilderness in the World" basically shows areas which are hardly touched by mankind. For this data set called World Wilderness Areas, wilderness has been defined as "undeveloped land still primarily shaped by the forces of nature". The World Wilderness Areas data set was created by the Sierra Club and the Center for Earth Resource Analysis of the World Bank. UNEP/GRID built a global data set from the many individual country data files.
The base maps used were the Jet Navigation Charts (scale 1:2,000,000) and Operational Navigation Charts (scale 1:1,000,000) of the U. S. Defense Mapping Agency. These maps show increasing levels of detail in respect to human constructs, to provide orienting landmarks, as areas become sparsely settled and remote. In searching for "empty quarters", all areas showing roads, settlements, airports and other constructs were eliminated. Areas of agricultural development and logging were removed by eliminating proximity zones of 6 km. distance from around roads and settlements. Finally, all remaining wilderness areas with a surface area less than 400,000 hectares were not included in the map.
Under the definitions used, about one-third of the total land surface of the globe is still wilderness. This amounts to almost 50 million square kilometers. The continents with the most wilderness are Antarctica (not shown on map), Eurasia, Africa and North America. Individual countries with the most wilderness are the Commonwealth of Independent States (34% wilderness), Canada (65%), Australia (30%), Denmark's Greenland (99%), China (Tibet) (24%), Brazil (24%), Algeria (59%), Mauritania (69%) and Saudi Arabia (28%).
The World Wilderness Areas data set is in the ARC/INFO vector format. The coverage shows only the polygons which fall under the definition of wilderness; polygons are coded with a '1'. The coverage is in the Geographic or Latitude/Longitude reference system, and extends from 83.62 degrees North to -55.65 degrees South latitude, and -180 West longitude to 180 degrees East longitude. It can easily be overlain with other coverages showing (e.g., "WBDTEMP3") national boundaries. In uncompressed ARC/INFO 'EXPORT' format, the data set comprises 3.5 megabytes. The coverage has 1089 polygons and 1310 arcs.
The reference to this data set is: "McCloskey, J.M. and H. Spalding, 1989. A reconnaissance level inventory of the amount of wilderness remaining in the world, Ambio, 18(4), 221-227." The correct sources to be cited when using the World Wilderness Areas data set are the Sierra Club and World Bank, as integrated by UNEP/GRID.
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