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article imageWWF report: Dramatic decline in world's wildlife seen since 1970

By Karen Graham     Oct 30, 2018 in Environment
"Exploding human consumption" has caused a massive drop in global wildlife populations in recent decades, the WWF conservation group reports in its bi-yearly "Living Planet Report."
According to the 2018 edition of the Living Planet Report released Monday. between 1970 and 2014, there was a 60 percent decline, on average, among 16,700 wildlife populations around the world.
Vertebrates in the report include mammals, fish, birds, amphibians, and reptiles. "We've had a loss of nearly two-thirds, on average, of our wild species," said James Snider, vice-president of science, research and innovation for WWF-Canada. "The magnitude of that should be eye-opening… We really are reaching a point where we're likely to see species go extinct. That's true in Canada and abroad."
The Living Planet Report, published every two years doesn't just account for the number of animals in each species that are lost but takes into account biodiversity, ecosystems, and demand on natural resources—and what it means for humans and wildlife. And today, with climate change, the report is all the more compelling.
Felipe Spina Avino  World Wildlife Fund (WWF) forestry conservation analyst  uses drones to map an a...
Felipe Spina Avino, World Wildlife Fund (WWF) forestry conservation analyst, uses drones to map an area of rainforest in the Ituxi reserve in the Western Amazon region
As the report says, we are the first generation to have a clear picture of the value of nature and our impact on it. The report also adds that we may also be the last generation capable of taking action to reverse the trend in wildlife losses. Two previous reports, in 2014 and 2016, found wildlife population declines of 50 percent and 58 percent, respectively, since 1970.
Top threats to species loss
If you haven't already guessed, human activity is the biggest threat to species loss. The report points to human activities causing habitat loss and degradation - brought on by the excessive use of wildlife such as overfishing and over-hunting. "Earth is losing biodiversity at a rate seen only during mass extinctions," the WWF's Living Planet Report adds.
The report notes that only a quarter of the world's land area is now free from the impact of human activity and the proportion will have fallen to just a 10th by 2050, reports the BBC.
Again, the report cites an ever-increasing demand for land used for food production and increased demand for energy, land, and water. While reforestation is gaining acceptance across the globe, extreme droughts have, in turn, created forests that are tinder-dry and ripe for wildfires, not only destroying homes and businesses but destroying wildlife habitats and animals.
Although forest loss has been slowed by reforestation in some regions in recent decades, the loss has "accelerated in tropical forests that contain some of the highest levels of biodiversity on Earth", the report notes.
In the past 40 years, there has been a staggering decline, as much as 60 percent, in the biomass of arthropods – invertebrate animals such as insects, millipedes, and sowbugs in the tropical forests of northeastern Puerto Rico, reported Digital Journal earlier this month.
Satellite image showing deforestation in Haiti  Haiti-Centre. This image depicts the border between ...
Satellite image showing deforestation in Haiti, Haiti-Centre. This image depicts the border between Haiti (left) and the Dominican Republic (right).
And as an added warning to the WWF report on Monday, a new study published in the journal PNAS, led by S. Blair Hedges at the Center for Biodiversity at Temple University in the U.S., found that less than one percent of the primary forest in Haiti remains, and that many endemic species, especially amphibians and reptiles, have been wiped out with the trees.
The findings make Haiti the most deforested country in the world. Forty-two of the 50 highest and largest mountains have lost all primary forest. Sadly, the report concludes that Haiti is already undergoing a mass extinction of its biodiversity because of deforestation.
Between climate change and the human need for more and more space, our world is shrinking. At the same time, we are shoving many species, plant, and animal, to extinction. This is the message the report wants to relay to us.
“This report sounds a warning shot across our bow,” said Carter Roberts, president, and CEO of WWF-US. “Natural systems essential to our survival—forests, oceans, and rivers—remain in decline. Wildlife around the world continue to dwindle. It reminds us we need to change course. It’s time to balance our consumption with the needs of nature, and to protect the only planet that is our home.”
More about Wildlife, Wwf, vertebrate species, Biodiversity, human consumption
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