Sunday, 20 January, 2019

Global wildlife population declined 60% since 1970: WWF

The Cerrado a vast tropical savanna ecoregion of Brazil is being cleared for soy monoculture The Cerrado a vast tropical savanna ecoregion of Brazil is being cleared for soy monoculture Credit Adriano Gambarni PA
Theresa Hayes | 01 November, 2018, 13:27

With the world set to review progress on sustainable development and conserving biodiversity under United Nations agreements by 2020, there is a chance for action in the next two years, WWF argues.

Only a quarter of the world's land area is free from the affects of human activity and by 2050 that will have fallen to just a 10th, the "Living Planet Report 2018" said.

The most pronounced species declines are found in the tropics, with an 89 percent loss in Central and South America, according to their analysis.

The WWF's report comes just weeks after a United Nations report on climate change warned that global temperatures are rising quickly, and risk rising to 1.5 degrees, which would wipe out most of the planet's coral reefs and cause severe heatwaves. "We've had a loss of almost two-thirds, on average, of our wild species", said James Snider, vice-president of science, research and innovation for WWF-Canada.

He said global warming also plays a role.

"Decision makers at every level need to make the right political, financial and consumer choices to achieve the vision that humanity and nature thrive in harmony on our only planet, the report said".

The biannual report looked at 4,000 species of amphibians, birds, fish, mammals and reptiles. "It's time to balance our consumption with the needs of nature, and to protect the only planet that is our home". The report attributes the declines to habitat loss, pollution, climate change, over-exploitation and the spread of invasive species and diseases, underscoring environmentalists' concerns that human activity is taking a heavy toll. Researchers, present a sobering picture of the impact of human activity on the world's wildlife, forests, oceans, rivers and climate, underlining the rapidly closing window for action and the urgent need for the global community to collectively rethink and redefine how we value, protect and restore nature.

The report says that the biggest challenge-and biggest opportunity-lies in changing our approach to development and remember that protecting nature also helps protect people. Species highlighted include African elephants, which declined in number in Tanzania by 60 percent in just five years between 2009 and 2014, mainly due to ivory poaching. "Wildlife around the world continue to dwindle", Carter Roberts, President and CEO of WWF-US, said in a statement.

In fact, the report says that in the last 50 years the Ecological Footprint has increased by a staggering 190%.

"We can no longer ignore the impact of current unsustainable production models and wasteful lifestyles." said Marco Lambertini, director general of WWF International. The report also adds that we may also be the last generation capable of taking action to reverse the trend in wildlife losses. "Only by addressing both ecosystems and climate do we stand a chance of safeguarding a stable planet for humanity's future on Earth."Many scientists believe the world has begun a sixth mass extinction, the first to be caused by a species - Homo sapiens".

Conservationists have issued a demand for urgent worldwide action after a major report uncovered an unprecedented crisis in nature that threatens to devastate the world economy and imperil humanity itself.

Each one of us in some way or the other is responsible for harassing the environment which has subsequently decimated global wildlife.