Tuesday, 20 November, 2018

Humans driving major decline of global wildlife populations, new study finds

The Cerrado a vast tropical savanna ecoregion of Brazil is being cleared for soy monoculture The Cerrado a vast tropical savanna ecoregion of Brazil is being cleared for soy monoculture Credit Adriano Gambarni PA
Sandra Phillips | 01 November, 2018, 13:24

The images of the graphs (Figure 1 and Figure 2) are much like that in Dan Brown's fictional novel Inferno which dealt with the overpopulation crisis in the world. These reductions are thought to be directly linked to human activity since current rates of species extinction are now 100 to 1,000 times higher than before human pressures became a factor.

He added that Pakistan is no different; we are losing our unique habitats and our wildlife at an alarming rate. The report says that nearly three-quarters of all the land on the earth are now in some or the other way is affected by humans and their activities.

"We have known for many, many years that we are driving the planet to the very brink", said Marco Lambertini, the director general of WWF International.

The report held over-exploitation of nature, through agriculture and deforestation as major causes behind the findings. "We're monitoring more populations (16,704), more species (4,005), and the trend remains the same".

In addition to the significant decline in populations of mammals, birds, fish, reptiles and amphibians, half of the world's shallow water corals were lost in the past 30 years, while 20 percent of the Amazon disappeared over the past 50 years.

As Tanya Steele, chief executive of the WWF said, "We are the first generation to know we are destroying our planet and the last one that can do anything about it".

The strongly worded report claims that humanity has thus far "failed the natural world" with declines in freshwater ecosystems especially pronounced.

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Species which live in fresh water habitats, such as frogs and river fish, have seen global population falls of 83pc, according to the living planet index by the Zoological Society of London (ZSL), which tracks the abundance of wildlife.

Measured by weight, or biomass, wild animals today only account for four percent of mammals on Earth, with humans (36%) and livestock (60%) making up the rest.

The proportion of the planet that is free from human impact is expected to drop from a quarter to a tenth by 2050.

"We have an opportunity to design a new path forward that allows us to co-exist sustainably with the wildlife we depend upon", he said.

A 190 per cent rise in ecological footprint or consumption of natural resources was recorded in the past 50 years. Marco Lambertini, director general of WWF International, said that the fundamental issue is consumption, and we can not ignore the impact of wasteful lifestyles.

This year's report cited population increases of pandas, dolphins, and gorillas as positive signs of environmental work in action, and credited legal frameworks like the US Endangered Species Act with helping listed species avoid extinction. "In the next years, we need to urgently transition to a net carbon-neutral society and halt and reverse nature loss - through green finance and shifting to clean energy and environmentally friendly food production", he said. "India is an extremely resource-rich country with at least 80% of the (world's) one-horned rhino population, and at least 60% of the global population of Asiatic elephants and tigers so it stands to lose a lot", said Dipankar Ghose, director, species and landscape at WWF, India.

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