Wwf report: 60 percent decline in thousands of vertebrates

Wwf report: 60 percent decline in thousands of vertebrates

According to a rough study, the populations of numerous vertebrate species on earth have shrunk by more than half in the past decades.

The average decline between 1970 and 2014 was 60 percent, according to the living planet report 2018 of the environmental foundation WWF and the zoological society of london, which was presented in berlin. Although this means that the value has deteriorated by a further two percentage points since the last edition of 2016, the decline is somewhat less pronounced than in the 1980s and 1990s.

WWF expert gunter mitlacher cited the irawadi dolphin, the skylark, the partridge and the stork as examples of animals whose populations are shrinking. In this country, according to the WWF, "monotonous agricultural landscapes" primarily affect meadow birds, frogs, wild bees and butterflies. However, the report itself does not provide any information on the development of insects. It is based on data from around 4000 species of mammals, birds, fish, reptiles and amphibians worldwide; 16 species were examined.700 vertebrate populations.

Above all, human consumption is the driver behind the destruction of habitats, said jorg-andreas kruger of the WWF in berlin. The consequences of the german lifestyle often left their mark on regions such as south america, africa and asia. For example, by cutting down forests and polluting rivers there. "Our lifestyle is like chain smoking and binge drinking at the expense of the planet," said kruger.

The authors of the report put it this way: human consumption of natural resources is 70 percent higher each year than the amount that can be regenerated in the same period of time. Humans lived as if they had more than one earth at their disposal. These calculations are based on the so-called ecological footprint, which reflects the extent to which human beings are affecting the earth’s ecosystems.

The bottom line, according to the WWF, is that the world’s ecological health has reached a new low. However, the experts also emphasized that a turnaround is still feasible. "This is not a doomsday scenario," said kruger. Important steps had already been taken, for example in the sustainability goals of the united nations and in the paris climate protection agreement. But these targets also had to be implemented by 2030, and the groundwork for this should be laid soon, according to the WWF. "We can’t wait another ten years," said kruger.

If the outlook continues to deteriorate, increased migration of people from africa to europe and from central to north america can be expected, mitlacher said. He therefore expects growing pressure from the people to improve living conditions. This includes the protection of ecosystems.

The report had summarized 3268 individual sources, including long monitoring programs by researchers and "citizen science" projects in which amateurs pay animals, it said. However, there are several regions in the world from which only a few data are known.

Just a few days ago, experts from several german science academies had recommended immediate measures to protect species diversity in the german agricultural landscape. The upcoming reform of the common european agricultural policy should be used to finance this, he said. A sharp decline in many species groups in the agricultural landscape has been documented, but there is still no official and uniform monitoring of biodiversity.

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