World wildlife plummets more than two-thirds in 50 years

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The 2020 Living Planet Report, a collaborative effort involving about 125 individuals, tracked nearly 21,000 populations from 1970 to 2016, including species of mammals, birds, fish, reptiles and amphibians. "The LPR has indicated that the environmental destruction through increasing and rapid deforestation, unsustainable agriculture and illegal wildlife trade are key drivers of the continued decline to nature being practiced in various communities and nations", she said. The report says climate change will become an important driver of biodiversity loss in the coming decades.

"The way we produce and consume food and energy, and the blatant disregard for the environment entrenched in our current economic model, has pushed the natural world to its limits".

"In 2016 we documented a 60 percent decline, now we have a 70 percent decline. It is ultimately an indicator of our impact on the natural world".

© Provided by Evening Standard A tiger in Bardia National Park, Nepal.

The LPI, which tracked nearly 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%, the starkest average population decline in any biome, equivalent to 4% per year since 1970. One example is the spawning population of the Chinese sturgeon in China's Yangtze river, which declined by 97 per cent between 1982 and 2015 due to the damming of the waterway. A key issue highlighted in the report is the pivotal role food production plays when it comes to habitat loss and the environmental degradation driving this precipitous decline in biodiversity. "On the plus side, the modelling also shows that it is possible for us to stabilise and reverse these trends through more ambitious conservation efforts and by making fundamental changes to the way we live, including reducing food waste and through the pursuit of a more sustainable diet".

Coupled with radical conservation efforts, these measures could avert more than two-thirds of future biodiversity loss, the authors suggested.


In the report, David Leclere of the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA), compares six different scenarios for bending the curve: "1".

The Living Planet Report 2020 launches less than a week before the 75th session of the United Nations General Assembly, when leaders are expected to review the progress made on the Sustainable Development Goals, the Paris Agreement and the Convention on Biological Diversity, CBD. The UNGA 2020 will bring together world leaders, businesses and civil society to develop the post-2020 framework for action for global biodiversity and thus marks a milestone moment to set the groundwork for an urgently needed New Deal for Nature and People.

The report pointed to humanity as the underlying cause of the deterioration of nature and the decline in the wildlife population.

"We often focus on species that are in big trouble, or on the edge of extinction, but by the time the species gets there, it no longer is serving its ecological function", Ms Shaw explained.

As a final statement, the report calls out to "citizens, governments and business leaders around the globe" who will "need to be part of a movement for change with a scale, urgency and ambition never seen before".

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