DATE: September 10, 2020
SNIP: Wildlife populations have fallen by more than two-thirds in less than 50 years, according to a major report by the conservation group WWF.
The report says this “catastrophic decline” shows no sign of slowing.
And it warns that nature is being destroyed by humans at a rate never seen before.
Wildlife is “in freefall” as we burn forests, over-fish our seas and destroy wild areas, says Tanya Steele, chief executive at WWF.
“We are wrecking our world – the one place we call home – risking our health, security and survival here on Earth. Now nature is sending us a desperate SOS and time is running out.”
The report looked at thousands of different wildlife species monitored by conservation scientists in habitats across the world.
They recorded an average 68% fall in more than 20,000 populations of mammals, birds, amphibians, reptiles and fish since 1970.
The decline was clear evidence of the damage human activity is doing to the natural world, said Dr Andrew Terry, director of conservation at the Zoological Society of London (ZSL), which provides the data.
“If nothing changes, populations will undoubtedly continue to fall, driving wildlife to extinction and threatening the integrity of the ecosystems on which we depend,” he added.
Taken together, they provide evidence that biodiversity is being destroyed at a rate unprecedented in human history.
This particular report uses an index of whether populations of wildlife are going up or down. It does not tell us the number of species lost, or extinctions.
The largest declines are in tropical areas. The drop of 94% for Latin America and the Caribbean is the largest anywhere in the world, driven by a cocktail of threats to reptiles, amphibians and birds.
Research published in the journal Nature suggests that to turn the tide we must transform the way we produce and consume food, including reducing food waste and eating food with a lower environmental impact.
In 2019, an intergovernmental panel of scientists concluded that one million species (500,000 animals and plants, and 500,000 insects) are threatened with extinction, some within decades.