- Freshwater species populations have suffered an 83% fall
- The report shows that there is no time to lose in securing a nature-positive society
Commenting on the findings, Marco Lambertini, Director General of WWF International, said: “We face the double emergencies of human-induced climate change and biodiversity loss, threatening the well-being of current and future generations. WWF is extremely worried by this new data showing a devastating fall in wildlife populations, in particular in tropical regions that are home to some of the most biodiverse landscapes in the world.”
With its biggest dataset yet, featuring almost 32,000 populations of 5,230 species, the Living Planet Index (LPI), provided within the report by ZSL (Zoological Society of London), shows it is within tropical regions that monitored vertebrate wildlife populations are plummeting at a particularly staggering rate. In particular, the LPI data reveals that between 1970 and 2018, monitored wildlife populations in Latin America and the Caribbean region have dropped by 94% on average.
Around the world, the report indicates that the main drivers of wildlife population decline are habitat degradation and loss, exploitation, the introduction of invasive species, pollution, climate change and disease. Several of these factors played a part in Africa’s 66% fall in its wildlife populations over the period, as well as Asia Pacific’s overall 55% drop. In less than a lifetime, monitored freshwater populations have fallen by an average of 83%, the largest decline of any species group. Habitat loss and barriers to migration routes are responsible for about half of the threats to monitored migratory fish species.
Ravi Singh, Secretary General & CEO, WWF India, said, "The Living Planet Report 2022 shows how climate change and biodiversity loss are not only environmental issues but economic, development, security and social issues too – and they must therefore be addressed together. Climate Change in India will impact key areas, such as water resources, agriculture, natural ecosystems, health and the food chain. We need an all-inclusive collective approach that empowers each of us to act, that can put us on a more sustainable path, and ensures that the costs and benefits from our actions are socially just and equitably shared.”
The Living Planet Report also highlights the role of mangrove forests, the conservation and restoration of which can provide a win-win-win solution for biodiversity, climate and people. Despite their importance, mangroves continue to be lost to aquaculture, agriculture and coastal development at current rates of 0.13% per year. Many mangroves are also degraded by overexploitation and pollution, alongside natural stressors such as storms and coastal erosion. Mangrove loss represents loss of habitat for biodiversity and the loss of ecosystem services for coastal communities, and in some locations, it can mean the loss of the very land where coastal communities live. It reports that 137km2 of the Sundarbans mangrove forest has been eroded since 1985, reducing land and ecosystem services for many of the 10 million people who live there.
Dr Andrew Terry, Director of Conservation and Policy at ZSL, said: "The Living Planet Index highlights how we have cut away the very foundation of life, and the situation continues to worsen. Half of the global economy and billions of people are directly reliant on nature. Preventing further biodiversity loss and restoring vital ecosystems has to be at the top of global agendas to tackle the mounting climate, environmental and public health crises."
The LPR report makes clear that delivering a nature-positive future will not be possible without recognising and respecting the rights, governance, and conservation leadership of Indigenous Peoples and local communities around the world.
The report argues that increasing conservation and restoration efforts, producing and consuming food in particular more sustainably, and rapidly and deeply decarbonising all sectors can mitigate the twin crises. The authors call on policymakers to transform economies so that natural resources are properly valued
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