Earth’s wildlife populations have plummeted by an average of 69% in just under 50 years, according to a leading scientific assessment, as humans continue to cut down forests, consume beyond the planet’s boundaries and pollute industrial scale.
From the open sea to tropical rainforests, the abundance of birds, fish, amphibians and reptiles is in free fall, declining on average by more than two-thirds between 1970 and 2018, according to the WWF and Zoological Society of London (ZSL) biennial. . Living Planet Report. Two years ago, the figure stood at 68%four years ago, it was at 60%
Many scientists believe that we are living the sixth mass extinction – the largest loss of life on Earth since the time of the dinosaurs – and that is being driven by humans. The 89 authors of the report urge world leaders to reach an ambitious agreement on the cop15 biodiversity summit in Canada this December and to cut carbon emissions limit global warming to below 1.5°C this decade to stop the wanton destruction of nature.
The Living Planet Index combines global analysis of 32,000 populations of 5,230 animal species to measure changes in wildlife abundance across continents and taxa, producing a graph similar to an index of the stock of life on Earth.
The Latin American and Caribbean region, including the Amazon, has seen the steepest decline in average wildlife population size, with a 94% drop in 48 years. Tanya Steele, Executive Director of WWF-UK, said: “This report tells us that the worst falls are in the Latin American region, home to the world’s largest rainforest, the Amazon. Deforestation rates are accelerating, stripping this unique ecosystem of not only the trees but also the wildlife that depends on them and the ability of the Amazon to act as one of our greatest allies in the fight against climate change.”
Africa had the second largest drop at 66%, followed by Asia and the Pacific at 55% and North America at 20%. Europe and Central Asia experienced a drop of 18%. The total loss is similar to the disappearance of the human population of Europe, America, Africa, Oceania and China, according to the report.
“Despite science, catastrophic projections, passionate speeches and promises, burning forests, submerged countries, record temperatures and millions of displaced people, world leaders continue to sit back and watch our world burn before our eyes. Steele said. “The climate and natural crises, their intertwined destinies, are not some distant threat that our grandchildren will solve with yet-to-be-discovered technology.”
He added: “We need our new Prime Minister to show that the UK is serious about helping people, nature and the economy thrive, by ensuring all promises to our world are kept. Falling short will not be forgotten or forgiven.”
Major nature charities have accused Liz Truss of putting the economy before the protection of nature and the environment, and they are concerned that rare animals and plants may lose their protection when their promise of a “Bonfire” of red tape in the EU It happens at the end of this year.
The report points out that not all countries have the same starting points with respect to the deterioration of nature and that the UK has only 50% of its richness in biodiversity compared to historical levels, according to the biodiversity integrity indexmaking it one of the most nature depleted countries in the world.
Land-use change remains the single most important driver of biodiversity loss across the planet, according to the report. Mike Barrett, executive director of science and conservation at WWF-UK, said: “Globally, primarily the declines we are seeing are driven by habitat loss and fragmentation driven by the global agricultural system and its expansion into intact habitat that converted to produce food.
The researchers underscore the increased difficulty animals have in moving across terrestrial landscapes, as they are blocked by infrastructure and farmland. Only 37% of rivers longer than 1,000 km (600 miles) are still flowing freely throughout their length, while only 10% of the world’s terrestrial protected areas are connected.
Future declines are not inevitable, say the authors, who point to the Himalayas, Southeast Asia, the east coast of Australia, the Albertine Rift and Eastern Arc mountains in East Africa, and the Amazon basin among priority areas.
The IUCN is also developing a standard for measuring an animal’s conservation potential, known as its green status, which will allow researchers to chart a path toward recovery for some of the one million species threatened with extinction on Earth. The pink pigeon, the burrowing bettong and the Sumatran rhinoceros were highlighted as species with good conservation potential in a studio last year.
Robin Freeman, head of ZSL’s indicators and assessments unit, said it was clear that humanity is eroding the very foundations of life and urgent action is needed. “To see any bend in the curve of biodiversity loss…it’s not just about conservation, it’s about changing production and consumption, and the only way we’re going to be able to legislate or mandate that is to have these clear goals and measurable. calling for the recovery of abundance, the reduction of the risk of extinction and the cessation of extinctions at Cop15 in December”.
This article headline was edited on October 13, 2022 to clarify that the figure is from averages across different populations.
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