WWF’s latest Living Planet Report (LPR), which is published every two years to assess the state of the planet’s wildlife, bears some grim warnings. According to the charity, population size of vertebrate species — including mammals, birds, fish, reptiles and amphibians — have shrunk at an average of 60 percent between 1970 and 2014. The report adds that loss in biodiversity at such a rate is only seen during mass extinctions. Vertebrate population losses in South and Central America are particularly high, with populations having declined by 89 percent since 1970.
The LPR goes on to say that only 25 percent of the world remains untouched by the impact of human activity, and warns that by 2050 this figure will have fallen to 10 percent.
The report states that it is the ever increasing demand for energy, land and water that is driving these alarming changes.
Deforestation also continues to be a problem. The report states that although forest loss has decelerated in some regions in recent decades, it has accelerated in certain tropical forests that have the highest biodiversity levels on Earth.
The LPR also notes that plastic pollution continues to be a major threat to marine life and that humanity’s plastic footprint continues to expand in the world’s oceans. It adds that plastic has been detected in the deepest parts of the ocean, including the Mariana Trench, which is 10,994 meters deep.
Freshwater species are also at considerable risk, with populations of species occupying lakes, rivers and wetlands having declined by 83 percent since 1970.
In the report, the WWF has called for “a new global deal for for nature and people.”
“The incalculable potential future value of benefits we might derive from further discoveries based on natural diversity will only be possible so long as ecosystems can continue to sustain the vast range of species that share the world with us. This includes the millions that have yet to be described, let alone studied”, states the LPR.