The number of wild animals living on the planet has halved over the past four decades because of unsustainable consumption and reckless human activities that have destroyed habitats, according to the latest figures from WWF and the Zoological Society of London.
The Living Planet Index (LPI) measures the state of the world’s biological diversity based on population trends. In the 2014 report, the two organisations have urged a shift to more sustainable ways of consumption and living, to reverse the trend that is causing the disappearance of marine and terrestrial species.
The report states that populations of fish, birds, mammals, amphibians and reptiles have declined by 52% since 1970, with freshwater species declining by 76% – with much of the loss happening in tropical regions like South America.
Among the reasons for the phenomenon, habitat loss and degradation are the most common, followed by hunting and fishing and climate change.
WWF international director General Marco Lambertini said, “Biodiversity is a crucial part of the systems that sustain life on Earth – and the barometer of what we are doing to this planet, our only home. We urgently need bold global action in all sectors of society to build a more sustainable future.
Ken Norris, director of science at the Zoological Society of London added, “This damage is not inevitable but a consequence of the way we choose to live. Although the report shows the situation is critical, there is still hope. Protecting nature needs focused conservation action, political will and support from industry.”
The report notes that the damage humans are causing is likely to impact on populations that depend on water and land resources as well. It points out that by changing patterns of consumption and lifestyles, countries can thrive while preserving the environment, naming some example sof conservation programmes that have succeeded.
Lambertini added, “Nature is both a lifeline for survival and a springboard to prosperity. Importantly, we are all in this together. We all need food, fresh water and clean air – wherever in the world we live. At a time when so many people still live in poverty, it is essential to work together to create solutions that work for everyone”.
Photo: Dennis Jarvis via Flickr