Questions for “Only 3 percent of Earth’s land is unchanged by people”

Wildebeest herd

The Serengeti is one of the few places on Earth that still houses all the animal species it did hundreds of years ago. Top predators, like lions, help keep herds of grazing wildebeests (pictured) in check. That ensures the overall ecosystem stays balanced.

Vicki Jauron, Babylon and Beyond Photography/Moment/Getty Images Plus

To accompany “Only 3 percent of Earth’s land is unchanged by people


Before Reading:

1.  What do you consider wildlands to be? What percentage of a wildland’s former species should remain to still be considered truly wild?

2.  Give at least three conditions that you think might have led to the loss of a region’s species over time. Which of them do you think played the biggest role? Explain your reasoning.

During Reading:

1.  Why do biologists consider the Serengeti to be an “ecologically intact ecosystem?” What does that term mean?

2.  What share of Earth’s land hosts ecologically intact ecosystems, according to the new survey?

3.  What role have Indigenous people played in how intact Earth’s ecosystems have remained?

4.  Much of the least-changed habitat exists where, according to the new study?

5.  Andrew Plumptre points to some human impacts that may not be obvious until you get up close. What are three examples?

6.  Why did the study consider the densities of 15 key large mammals in deciding which ecosystems or were intact or less intact?

After Reading:

1.  What for you were the two biggest take-home messages of the research reported in this story?

2.  Think about where the 3 percent of ecologically intact ecosystems are? What do these regions have in common? What makes them different? If there isn’t enough money and other resources to preserve all of these largely “untouched” ecosystems, which would you focus on preserving as they are? Explain your choice(s).