- Approximately 30% of the European population is regularly exposed to a level of noise that disturbs speech or sleep which has prompted a movement towards the preservation of ‘quiet areas’.
- A Greek study has found that parcels of land that are over 10km2 and not subject to any human-generated noise (which are therefore eligible as quiet areas) are predominantly agricultural land and forest semi-natural areas. Wetlands and water bodies seldom make the cut.
- As well as impacting on human wellbeing, noise pollution can change species assemblages and negatively affect wildlife by making it difficult to communicate or detect prey. Naturally quiet areas are thought to support high levels of biodiversity, although particular species may favour noisy sites as a refuge from predators.
- The Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) has completed a nationwide survey to determine what tranquillity means to people and natural sounds ranked highly on the resulting list.
Noise pollution is becoming a more widely recognized issue and the protection of quiet areas may be the way forward in ensuring both people and wildlife can escape from the noise pollution experienced in urban or industrial zones. Land use conflict between the increasing need for urban development, and the conservation of low-noise areas and the ecosystems they support suggests this emerging issue is likely to become more contested in the future.