Roadless Areas

Areas at least 1 km from current roads

  • Source: HNE Eberswalde/SCB/UFZ/iDiv/UPatras/Uni Bonn/Geos Institute/UFRJ/Writtle/PAN
  • Last update: -

The Roadless Areas data set was created by Ibisch at al. from 2013 OpenStreetMap roads data. A 1 km buffer was applied to all roads to create a global map of roadless areas. The data also include an assessment of the roadless areas' status, quality, and extent of coverage by protected areas. Roads fragment landscapes and trigger human colonization and degradation of ecosystems, to the detriment of biodiversity and ecosystem functions. The planet’s remaining large and ecologically important tracts of roadless areas sustain key refugia for biodiversity and provide globally relevant ecosystem services.

About 80% of the Earth’s terrestrial surface remains roadless, but this area is fragmented into ~600,000 patches, more than half of which are less than 1 km2 and only 7% of which are larger than 100 km2. Global protection of ecologically valuable roadless areas is inadequate. International recognition and protection of roadless areas is urgently needed to halt their continued loss. Resource Watch shows only a subset of the data set. For access to the full data set and additional information, see the Learn More link.

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Formal name

A Global Map of Roadless Areas and their Conservation Status


Given the pace of road construction and data limitations, the results overestimate the actual extent of global roadless areas.

Suggested citation

CEEM/HNEE/OSM and P.L. Ibisch, M.T. Hoffmann, S. Kreft, G. Pe’er, V. Kati, L. Biber-Freudenberger, et al. 2016. "A Global Map of Roadless Areas and Their Conservation Status." Science 354: 1423-1427. doi:10.1126/science.aaf7166. © OpenStreetMap contributor. Accessed through Resource Watch, (date).


Eberswalde University for Sustainable Development (HNE Eberswalde)
Society for Conservation Biology (SCB)
Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ)
German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv)
University of Patras (UPatras)
University of Bonn (Uni Bonn)
Geos Institute
Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ)
Writtle University College (Writtle)
Polish Academy of Sciences (PAN)

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