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Analysis: Scientists debate pros & cons of formal mapping of wilderness

Ecosystems in their natural state are disappearing quickly around the globe. On that most scientists agree. But how to stem those losses through conservation is hotly debated. Many believe that the focus should be on identifying what local communities, often recognized as the superior guardians of their environment, see as worth protecting. That local focus, they argue, should supersede the creation of new maps, international targets and definitions for terms like “wilderness” and “intactness.”

“Why do we need another definition?” said Douglas Sheil, a forest ecologist and senior associate with the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) based in Bogor, Indonesia.

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