World wildlife populations shrink by 69 percent in last 50 years: Report


New Delhi: In the last 50 years, there has been loss of 69 per cent drop in the wildlife around the world, as per the latest “Living Planet Report 2022” with Latin America and the Caribbean regions have seen the largest decline of monitored wildlife populations globally, with an average decline of 94 per cent between 1970 and 2018.

The biennial report published by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) mentioned that during the same period, monitored populations in Africa plummeted by 66%, while Asia Pacific’s monitored populations which include India also fell by 55%.

The WWF has also found that freshwater populations have declined the most, with an average 83% decline between 1970 and 2018.

The IUCN Red List shows cycads an ancient group of seed plants are the most threatened species, while corals are declining the fastest, followed by amphibians.

Only 37% of rivers that are over 1,000 km long remain free-flowing, or in their natural state, including rivers in India that are largely no longer free-flowing. This, the report noted, has threatened migration of fish.

The Living Planet Report has found that agriculture is the most prevalent threat to amphibians (animals that live both on land and in water), whereas hunting and trapping are most likely to threaten birds and mammals.

Geographically, Southeast Asia is the region where species are most likely to face threats at a significant level, while the Polar regions and the east coast of Australia and South Africa showed the highest impact probabilities for climate change, driven in particular by impact on birds.

The global abundance of 18 of 31 oceanic sharks have declined by 71% over the last 50 years, and the report said that by 2020 three-quarters of sharks and rays were threatened with extinction.

The report also warns that if the world breaches the 1.5 degree global warming threshold, the climate crisis is likely to become the dominant cause of biodiversity loss in the coming decades.

Thus far, the world has already warmed 1.1 degrees over pre-industrial levels and some studies believe the 1.5 degree threshold could be crossed in the next 10 to 20 years.

The report has used the Living Planet Index (LPI), a global dataset featuring 32,000 populations of 5,230 species provided by Zoological Society of London to arrive at findings. The data shows that in tropical regions vertebrate wildlife populations are declining at a staggering rate.

” The living planet report 2022 shows how climate change and biodiversity loss are not only environmental issues but economic, development, security and social issues too – and they must therefore be addressed together”
Ravi Singh, Secretary General & CEO, WWF India.

“We need an all-inclusive collective approach that empowers each of us to act, that can put us on a more sustainable path, and ensures that the costs and benefits from our actions are socially just and equitably shared” he added.

The report also noted that “Around the world the main drivers of wildlife population decline are habitat degradation and loss, exploitation, the introduction of invasive species, pollution, climate change and disease, adding that Land-use change is still the biggest current threat to nature, destroying or fragmenting the natural habitats of many plant and animal species on land, in freshwater and in the sea”.

“However, if we are unable to limit warming to 1.5°C, climate change is likely to become the dominant cause of biodiversity loss in the coming decades.” it said.


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