Posted on Oct 13, 2022
Wildlife populations - mammals, birds, amphibians, reptiles and fish - have seen a devastating 69% drop on average since 1970, according to WWF’s Living Planet Report (LPR) 2022. The report highlights the stark outlook of the state of nature and urgently warns governments, businesses and the public to take transformative action to reverse the destruction of biodiversity.
“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,” said Marco Lambertini, Director General of WWF International.
Europe is one of the regions that scores lowest for “biodiversity intactness”, and it is important to note that much biodiversity had already been depleted by the Living Planet Index’ 1970 baseline year. Consequently, the wildlife populations decline of 18% in the region of “Europe and Central Asia” may not seem as drastic as the more steeply declining trends in other regions, which have been subject to human impact more recently. Nevertheless, it is alarming to see that the downward trend in Europe still continues despite some conservation successes.
The findings also show that bringing nature back to Europe will be critical. In June 2022, the European Commission presented its proposal for a new EU law which aims to drive the restoration of ecosystems at land and at sea, and to contribute to the EU’s objectives concerning climate change mitigation and adaptation.
“In Europe, we have already lost much of our nature and biodiversity, and the continuing downward trend is highly alarming. The proposed EU nature restoration law is a massive opportunity to bring nature back, with unparalleled benefits for nature, climate and people. This law is a smart response of the European Commission to increase Europe’s resilience to droughts, floods, fires and other extreme weather events, and it will also contribute to our long-term food security,” said Andreas Baumüller, Head of Natural Resources at the WWF European Policy Office.
“WWF urges the European Parliament and EU Member States to adopt an ambitious law which will drive large-scale restoration, and quickly. This can be the turning point where we finally realise that the recovery of nature will boost not only the planet’s health but also our wellbeing and economies.”
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 data reveals that between 1970 and 2018, monitored wildlife populations in Latin America and the Caribbean region have dropped by 94% on average.
“It truly is frightening. Every year, we lose 10 million hectares of forests - about the size of Portugal - and the Amazonas, one of the biggest rainforests in the world, is close to the tipping point. This destruction will affect all of our lives, our climate, our food security, and the livelihoods of millions on this planet,” said Anke Schulmeister, Senior Policy Officer at the WWF European Policy Office. “The European institutions are currently negotiating a law which would help curb global deforestation driven by EU consumption, and this data shows that we have no time to lose to make this law a reality!”
World leaders are due to meet at the 15th Conference of Parties to the Convention of Biological Diversity (CBD COP15) this December for a once-in-a-decade opportunity to course-correct for the sake of people and the planet. WWF is advocating for leaders to commit to a ‘Paris-style’ agreement capable of reversing biodiversity loss to secure a nature-positive world by 2030.
The world's richest nations have a responsibility to provide financial support to biodiversity-rich developing countries - not only because of the numerous benefits biodiversity provides to all, but also due to the fact that consumption habits of wealthy countries disproportionately drive nature loss in other parts of the world.
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