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Wildlife Populations Plunge 69 Percent Since 1970

Wildlife elephants in Kenya
Wildlife Populations Plunge 69 Percent since 1970. (Wildlife in Kenya) Credit: CIFOR. CC-BY-NC-ND-2.0 / Flickr

Wildlife populations have plunging a whopping 69 percent since 1970, according to World Wildlife Fund’s (WWF) Living Planet Report 2022.

Alandmark assessment released on October 13 showed that the populations of monitored wild animal species have plummeted nearly 70 percent in the last 50 years.

Latin America and the Caribbean registered the worst statistics with an average decline of 94%. Global freshwater species have also been excessively impacted. The decline has been around 83% on average.

Data featuring from the report shows accelerating falls across the globe for over 32,000 populations. This included more than 5,000 species of mammals, birds, amphibians, reptiles and fish.

New Wildlife Populations data extremely worrying

Marco Lambertini, director general of WWF International, said his organization was “extremely worried” by the new data.

Lambertini said, “It shows a devastating fall in wildlife populations, in particular in tropical regions that are home to some of the most biodiverse landscapes in the world.”

Putting emphasis on Latin America, Mark Wright, director of science at WWF, said the figures were “truly frightening”. He also noted that “Latin America is renowned for its biodiversity of course. It’s really important for lots of other things as well.”

“It’s super important for regulating the climate. We estimate currently there’s something like 150 to 200 billion tones of carbon wrapped up in the forests of the Amazon.” He added.

Carter Roberts, President and CEO of WWF-US also said, “The world is waking up to the fact that our future depends on reversing the loss of nature just as much as it depends on addressing climate change. And you can’t solve one without solving the other.”

“Everyone has a role to play in reversing these trends, from individuals to companies to governments.” He added.

Rebecca Shaw, global chief scientist of WWF said, “These plunges in wildlife populations can have dire consequences for our health and economies,” adding, “We should care deeply about the unraveling of natural systems because these same resources sustain human life.”

Human activity responsible for Wildlife Populations Plunge

The Living Planet Report 2022 strongly highlighted the “devastating” losses to nature due to human activity the main drivers of wildlife loss including habitat loss, species overexploitation, invasive species, pollution, climate change and diseases.

Mr. Lambertini believes the world needed to rethink its harmful and wasteful agricultural practices. Moreover, it needs to do so before the global food chain collapsed attributing food systems to the plunge.

“Food systems today are responsible for over 80 percent of deforestation on land, and if you look at the ocean and freshwater, they are also driving a collapse of fishery stocks and populations in those habitats,” he said.

Report authors called for an international, binding commitment to protect nature. Their demand is similar to the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change. The event was held during the impending world leader’s convention in Montreal for the COP15 biodiversity summit in December.

Transformation of economies to mitigate Wildlife loss

Biodiversity loss and climate change share many of the same underlying causes of wildlife loss. Therefore, actions that transform food production and consumption, rapidly cut emissions.

For that reason, the report calls on policymakers to transform economies to improve the value of natural resources. In addition, the urge investment in conservation to mitigate the disaster.

Roberts noted that the US government can help ensure that COP15. In his opinion, the emerging 2030 Global Biodiversity Framework would therefore be successful through its diplomatic engagement.

“In the US, Congress should finalize this year’s funding bills with significant increases for global conservation programs,” Roberts adds.

“Doing so would empower the federal government to drive greater progress in conserving and restoring nature, and send a signal to other countries that it expects other actors to do the same.”

With policies that transform economies, it will aid in bringing new resources to the table to help developing countries protect their biodiversity.

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