Global assessment of light pollution impact on protected areas
The analysis is done to reveal how light pollution affects protected areas. Hence, two new variables was created from combining the global protected area distribution data and nighttime lights data: a Protected Area Light Pollution Index (PALI) and a Protected Area Human Impact Index (PAHI). Results indicate that regions in Europe and Asia Minor, the Caribbean, South and East Asia as well as in the Eastern part of the United States are most affected. Introducing aggregated data on biomes reveals that temperate broadleaf and mixed forests suffer the biggest impact both in terms of general light pollution as well as lighting in protected areas. The presented risk assessment underscores the need for accurate and consistent spatial data on a global scale and can help to indicate which protected areas globally and nationally are at greatest risk of human activities. It is also an important step towards public communication and raising general awareness on the topic of light pollution.