A Swiss billionaire is donating $1 billion in an attempt to save the planet’s wild lands and waters from destruction

Science
Webp.net resizeimageMatthew Brown/APEmigrant Peak is seen rising above the Paradise Valley and the Yellowstone River near Emigrant, Montana, on October 8, 2018.
  • Only 15% of the Earth’s lands and 7% of the oceans have been protected in a natural state.
  • Some scientists say a majority of wild species will go extinct if humans don’t conserve at least 50% of the Earth.
  • Swiss billionaire Hansjörg Wyss has pledged $1 billion to help protect 30% of the planet by 2030.
  • Wyss previously donated $450 million to protect wild species on roughly 40 million acres around the world.

A Swiss philanthropist’s foundation will donate $1 billion to conserve the planet’s land and oceans in an effort to expand the availability of clean air and drinking water.

Hansjörg Wyss, a billionaire and conservationist, wrote Wednesday in a New York Times op-ed that he will donate the money over the next 10 years through his Wyss Foundation. Lands and waters are best conserved when they become public national parks, wildlife refuges, or marine reserves, Wyss wrote. He aims to help conserve 30% of the Earth in a natural state by 2030.

According to researchers at Brown University, animal and plant species are going extinct 1,000 times faster than they did prior to human activity. A recent study in the journal PNAS predicted that humans will cause so many mammal species to go extinct in the next 50 years that the planet’s evolutionary diversity won’t recover for up to 5 million years.

Some scientists say at least 50% of the Earth needs to be protected in order to avoid losing a majority of plant and animal species. As of now, however, only 15% of the planet’s lands and 7% of the oceans have been protected in a natural state.

The Wyss campaign will support locally-led efforts to better manage parks and protected areas. Wyss will also sponsor research at the University of Bern, Switzerland, so that scientists can determine the most effective and feasible conservation methods.

Read more: So many animals will go extinct in the next 50 years that it will take Earth at least 3 million years to recover, a study has found

Wyss previously helped protect wild species on roughly 40 million acres of land and ocean after donating more than $450 million across Africa, South America, North America, and Europe. Wyss is also one of several billionaires to sign the Giving Pledge, a commitment to give away at least half of one’s wealth to charity.

“Every one of us – citizens, philanthropists, business and government leaders – should be troubled by the enormous gap between how little of our natural world is currently protected and how much should be protected,” Wyss wrote. “It is a gap that we must urgently narrow, before our human footprint consumes the earth’s remaining wild places.”

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