AboutZoos, Since 2008


Solu­tions still in reach as world bio­di­ver­sity suf­fers major decline, says WWF

pub­lished 02 Octo­ber 2014 | mod­i­fied 02 Octo­ber 2014

Global wildlife pop­u­la­tions have declined by more than half in just 40 years as mea­sured in WWF’s Liv­ing Planet Report 2014. Wildlife’s con­tin­ued decline high­lights the need for sus­tain­able solu­tions to heal the planet, accord­ing to the report released 29 September.

LPR2014 WWFThe Liv­ing Planet Report 2014 also shows Eco­log­i­cal Foot­print — a mea­sure of humanity’s demands on nature — con­tin­u­ing its upward climb. Taken together, bio­di­ver­sity loss and unsus­tain­able foot­print threaten nat­ural sys­tems and human well-​being, but can also point us toward actions to reverse cur­rent trends.

Bio­di­ver­sity is a cru­cial part of the sys­tems that sus­tain life on Earth — and the barom­e­ter of what we are doing to this planet, our only home. We urgently need bold global action in all sec­tors of soci­ety to build a more sus­tain­able future,” said WWF Inter­na­tional Direc­tor Gen­eral Marco Lambertini.

The Liv­ing Planet Report 2014 is the tenth edi­tion of WWF’s bien­nial flag­ship pub­li­ca­tion. With the theme Species and Spaces, Peo­ple and Places, the report tracks over 10,000 ver­te­brate species pop­u­la­tions from 1970 to 2010 through the Liv­ing Planet Index — a data­base main­tained by the Zoo­log­i­cal Soci­ety of Lon­don. The report’s mea­sure of humanity’s Eco­log­i­cal Foot­print is pro­vided by the Global Foot­print Net­work.

This year’s Liv­ing Planet Index fea­tures updated method­ol­ogy that more accu­rately tracks global bio­di­ver­sity and pro­vides a clearer pic­ture of the health of our nat­ural envi­ron­ment. While the find­ings reveal that the state of the world’s species is worse than in pre­vi­ous reports, the results also put finer focus on avail­able solutions.

The find­ings of this year’s Liv­ing Planet Report make it clearer than ever that there is no room for com­pla­cency. It is essen­tial that we seize the oppor­tu­nity — while we still can — to develop sus­tain­ably and cre­ate a future where peo­ple can live and pros­per in har­mony with nature,” said Lambertini.

Crit­i­cal wildlife declines
Accord­ing to the report, pop­u­la­tions of fish, birds, mam­mals, amphib­ians and rep­tiles have declined by 52 per cent since 1970. Fresh­wa­ter species have suf­fered a 76 per cent decline, an aver­age loss almost dou­ble that of land and marine species. The major­ity of these losses are com­ing from trop­i­cal regions with Latin Amer­ica endur­ing the most dra­matic drop.

The report shows that the biggest recorded threat to bio­di­ver­sity comes from the com­bined impacts of habi­tat loss and degra­da­tion. Fish­ing and hunt­ing are also sig­nif­i­cant threats. Cli­mate change is becom­ing increas­ingly wor­ri­some, with research cited in the report find­ing that cli­mate change is already respon­si­ble for the pos­si­ble extinc­tion of species.

The scale of bio­di­ver­sity loss and dam­age to the very ecosys­tems that are essen­tial to our exis­tence is alarming
Ken Nor­ris, Direc­tor of Sci­ence, Zoo­log­i­cal Soci­ety of London »

This dam­age is not inevitable but a con­se­quence of the way we choose to live. Although the report shows the sit­u­a­tion is crit­i­cal, there is still hope. Pro­tect­ing nature needs focused con­ser­va­tion action, polit­i­cal will and sup­port from indus­try,” said Norris.

While bio­di­ver­sity loss around the world is at crit­i­cal lev­els, the Liv­ing Planet Report 2014 high­lights how effec­tively man­aged pro­tected areas can sup­port wildlife. In one exam­ple, Nepal is noted for increas­ing its tiger pop­u­la­tion in recent years. Over­all, pop­u­la­tions in land-​based pro­tected areas suf­fer less than half the rate of decline of those in unpro­tected areas.

Eco­log­i­cal Foot­print increases
Accord­ing to the report, humanity’s demand on the planet is more than 50 per cent larger than what nature can renew. It would take 1.5 Earths to pro­duce the resources nec­es­sary to sup­port our cur­rent Eco­log­i­cal Foot­print. This global over­shoot means, for exam­ple, that we are cut­ting tim­ber more quickly than trees regrow, pump­ing fresh­wa­ter faster than ground­wa­ter restocks, and releas­ing CO2 faster than nature can sequester it.

Eco­log­i­cal over­shoot is the defin­ing chal­lenge of the 21st cen­tury,” said Mathis Wack­er­nagel, Pres­i­dent and Co-​founder of Global Foot­print Net­work. “Nearly three-​quarters of the world’s pop­u­la­tion lives in coun­tries strug­gling with both eco­log­i­cal deficits and low incomes. Resource restraints demand that we focus on how to improve human wel­fare by a means other than sheer growth.”

Delink­ing the rela­tion­ship between foot­print and devel­op­ment is a key global pri­or­ity indi­cated in the report. While per capita Eco­log­i­cal Foot­print of high-​income coun­tries is five times that of low-​income coun­tries, research demon­strates that it is pos­si­ble to increase liv­ing stan­dards while restrain­ing resource use.

The 10 coun­tries with the largest per capita Eco­log­i­cal Foot­prints are: Kuwait, Qatar, United Arab Emi­rates, Den­mark, Bel­gium, Trinidad and Tobago, Sin­ga­pore, United States of Amer­ica, Bahrain and Sweden.

The cli­mate con­nec­tion
The report comes months after a United Nations study warned of the grow­ing impacts of cli­mate change and gives evi­dence to the find­ing that cli­mate is already impact­ing the health of the planet. Accord­ing to the Liv­ing Planet Report 2014, more than 200 river basins, home to over 2.5 bil­lion peo­ple, expe­ri­ence severe water scarcity for at least one month every year. With close to one bil­lion peo­ple already suf­fer­ing from hunger, the report shows how cli­mate, com­bined with chang­ing land uses, threat­ens bio­di­ver­sity and could lead to fur­ther food shortages.

Con­struc­tive nego­ti­a­tions over an inter­na­tional cli­mate deal are among the oppor­tu­ni­ties that exist to con­trol these trends. Com­ple­tion of a global agree­ment that clears the way to a low car­bon econ­omy is essen­tial given that fos­sil fuel use is cur­rently the dom­i­nant fac­tor in Eco­log­i­cal Foot­print.

A com­ple­men­tary set of nego­ti­a­tions on a set of devel­op­ment goals cre­ates the oppor­tu­nity for coun­tries to address how nat­ural sys­tems can be pro­tected as world pop­u­la­tion sur­passes 9.5 bil­lion in com­ing decades.

Sus­tain­able solu­tions
The Liv­ing Planet Report 2014 serves as a plat­form for global dia­logue, decision-​making and action for gov­ern­ments, busi­nesses and civil soci­ety at a crit­i­cal time for the planet.

The report pro­vides WWF’s “One Planet Per­spec­tive” with strate­gies to pre­serve, pro­duce and con­sume more wisely. It also includes exam­ples of how com­mu­ni­ties are already mak­ing bet­ter choices to reduce foot­print and bio­di­ver­sity loss.

Nature is both a life­line for sur­vival and a spring­board to pros­per­ity. Impor­tantly, we are all in this together. We all need food, fresh water and clean air — wher­ever in the world we live. At a time when so many peo­ple still live in poverty, it is essen­tial to work together to cre­ate solu­tions that work for every­one,” said Lambertini.

WWF’s “One Planet Per­spec­tive” shows how every cor­ner of the globe can con­tribute to main­tain­ing a foot­print that doesn’t out­pace Earth’s abil­ity to renew. By fol­low­ing WWF’s pro­gramme for one planet liv­ing, soci­ety can begin revers­ing the trends indi­cated in the Liv­ing Planet Report 2014.

(Source: WWF global news, 29.09.2014)

UN Biodiversity decade
WWF Stop Wildlife Crime
Fight for Flight campaign
End Ivory-funded Terrorism
Support Rewilding Europe
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Goal: 7000 tigers in the wild

Tiger range countries map

Tiger map” (CC BY 2.5) by Sander­son et al., 2006.

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