68% decline in wildlife population since 1970: WWF

V Rishi Kumar Hyderabad | Updated on September 10, 2020

Living Planet Report 2020 calls for urgent action to reverse the trend by 2030

Global populations of mammals, birds, amphibians, reptiles and fish have seen an average two-third decline in less than half a century, due in large part to the very same environmental destruction which is contributing to the emergence of zoonotic diseases such as Covid-19, according to the WWF’s Living Planet Report 2020.

The Living Planet Index (LPI) shows that factors believed to increase the planet’s vulnerability to pandemics, including land-use change and the use and trade of wildlife, were also behind the 68 per cent average decline in the global vertebrate species’ populations between 1970 and 2016.

“The Living Planet Report 2020 underlines how humanity’s increasing destruction of nature is having catastrophic impacts not only on wildlife populations but also on human health and all aspects of our lives,” said Marco Lambertini, Director General, WWF International.

“From the fish in our oceans and rivers to bees which play a crucial role in our agricultural production, the decline of wildlife affects directly nutrition, food security and the livelihoods of billions of people. In the midst of a global pandemic, it is now more important than ever to take a coordinated global action to halt and start to reverse the loss of biodiversity and wildlife populations across the globe by the end of the decade, and protect our future health and livelihoods. Our own survival increasingly depends on it,” he said.

Pressure on wildlife

The Living Planet Report 2020 presents a comprehensive overview of the state of our natural world through the LPI. The LPI, which tracked almost 21,000 populations of more than 4,000 vertebrate species between 1970 and 2016, also shows that wildlife populations found in freshwater habitats have suffered a decline of 84 per cent — the starkest average population decline in any biome, equivalent to a decline of 4 per cent per year since 1970.

Based on a paper, ‘Bending the curve of terrestrial biodiversity needs an integrated strategy’, co-authored by the WWF and more than 40 NGOs and academic institutions and published on Thursday in Nature, the LPR 2020 also includes pioneering modelling, which shows that without further efforts to counteract habitat loss and degradation, global biodiversity will continue to decline.

The research shows that implementing these measures together rather than in isolation will allow the world to rapidly alleviate pressures on wildlife habitats.

Indian biodiversity

“The focus of the Living Planet Report 2020 is to reiterate a scientific case for the urgent action we need to protect and restore nature and biodiversity,” said Ravi Singh Secretary General and CEO, WWF India.

“For a mega-diverse country like India, which has been seeing a decline in forests, natural wetlands, and marine biodiversity due to factors like urbanisation, land degradation, pollution and landuse change, bolder conservation efforts are key to reversing the trend. Only an integrated approach, will succeed in restoring the balance of nature,” Ravi Singh said.

WWF India’s new campaign on #Nature #TheUltimateVaccine reiterates the need to restore the balance of nature by putting an end to the destruction of biodiversity and ecosystems and thereby minimising the risks of pandemics waiting for us in the future.

Quoting IUCN Red List, Sejal Worah, Programme Director, said, “Out of 425 species of mammals, 50 mammal species are either critically endangered or endangered, needing immediate intervention.”

Published on September 10, 2020

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