World Wildlife Fund Living Planet Report 2020 reports a 68% average decline in global vertebrate species (mammals, birds, amphibians, reptiles and fish) populations between 1970 and 2016. The Report is based on the Living Planet Index from the Zoological Society of London that shows trends in wildlife abundance tracked by 125 experts around the world and thus provides a comprehensive overview of the state of our natural world.
21,000 populations of more than 4,000 vertebrate species between 1970 and 2016 were tracked and the results show that wildlife populations in freshwater habitats have suffered the greatest decline at 84%. The main cause for this dramatic decline in species populations on land is habitat loss and degradation, including deforestation and land use change.
The Director General of WWF, Marco Lambertini stated ‘These serious declines in wildlife species populations are an indicator that nature is unravelling and the our planet is flashing red warning signs of systems failure. 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’.
The Report also includes pioneer ‘Bending the curve’ modelling that shows without counteractive measures to prevent habitat loss and degradation, biodiversity will continue to decline. It concludes that bold action and transformational change is required in the way we produce and consume food. Food production needs to be ecologically-sustainable, waste needs to be reduced and people need to be encouraged to favour more healthy environmentally-friendly diets.
The United Nations General Assembly 2020 meeting in late September, 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. We hope they will be able to set nature on a path of recovery and secure a sustainable future for people and the planet.
Living Planet Report 2020