Humanity has wiped out 60% of animal species since 1970, says World Wildlife Fund report
Overexploitation for human consumption, agriculture, land conversion and habitat loss were stated as the top reasons for a decline in biodiversity.
Human beings have wiped out a staggering 60% of the global populations of mammals, birds, fish, reptiles and amphibians since 1970, said the World Wildlife Fund. Sounding a grim warning, officials at the global conservation body said that humanity needs to “change course” before it is too late.
According to the WWF’s Living Planet Report 2018 released on Monday, there has been an overall decline of 60% in the population sizes of vertebrate species between 1970 and 2014. This reduction was especially marked in the tropics, with South and Central America suffering the most dramatic decline – an 89% loss since 1970. The numbers of freshwater wildlife species showed a dramatic decline of 83% over the same period.
The report tracked 4,005 vertebrate species.
While climate change is a growing threat, the report said the overexploitation of species for consumption, agriculture, and activities such as land conversion and habitat loss were the top threats to biodiversity. Overfishing is another reason behind the decline of species in the oceans. “A recent assessment found that only a quarter of land on Earth is substantively free of the impacts of human activities. This is projected to decline to just one-tenth by 2050,” said the report.
WWF United States President Carter Roberts said it was time to balance consumption with the needs of nature. “This report sounds a warning shot across our bow. Natural systems essential to our survival – forests, oceans, and rivers – remain in decline,” he said. “It reminds us we need to change course.”
The report also explained the degradation of oceans, forests, corals, reefs, wetlands and mangroves. “The Earth is estimated to have lost about half of its shallow water corals in the past 30 years and 20% of the Amazon has disappeared in just 50 years,” it said.
WWF International Director General Marco Lambertini said the impact of unsustainable production models and wasteful lifestyles could not be ignored any longer. “In the next years, we need to urgently transition to a net carbon-neutral society and halt and reverse nature loss – through green finance and shifting to clean energy and environmentally friendly food production,” he said. “In addition, we must preserve and restore enough land and ocean in a natural state to sustain all life.”