The largest protected are a on Earth is in Hawaii! President Obama created the biggest protected area on earth, The Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument, more than half a million square miles, which is part of the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands.
It was established by George W. Bush ten years ago at about 140,000 square miles. Papahānaumokuākea is now 582,578 square miles of land and sea – two times the size of Texas. President Obama used his executive powers under the 1906 Antiquities Act to make Papahānaumokuākea the largest protected area on earth. All commercial extraction including fishing will not be allowed in this area. Papahānaumokuākea is a sanctuary for endangered species, including blue whales, sea turtles, and the last Hawaiian monk seals and its deeper waters are inhabited by more than 7,000 species, including the oldest animals on Earth – black corals that are more than 4000 years old. And there is a lot to be discovered and studied here.
Here’s a very insightful excerpt from an article by Char Miller,
“In 2014, Obama added roughly 300,000 square miles to the Bush-inaugurated Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument (now totaling 490,343 square miles), a stretch of remote Pacific islands south and west of Hawaii. When he did so, he justified its expansion as a way to strengthen Pacific ecosystems. The same rationale was deployed in support of Papahānaumokuākea National Monument.
These two mega monuments, when combined with the 126 other (and smaller) U.S. marine sanctuaries, now account for about 26 percent of the nation’s waters, meaning that collectively they are giving oceanic species a fighting chance to survive as the climate-charged seas warm and rise. They also make the president’s latest action in the Pacific more than a grand gesture. It just might be a planetary life preserver.” To read the complete article, click here.
Despite the controversy surrounding this expansion, leaving vast swathes of land and ocean free from commercial activity will play a big role is conservation, and hopefully, other countries will take a cue and do the same for areas in their region too.
“Nature is not a place to visit. It is home.”
– Gary Snyder
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