September 12: Human activities have caused the world’s wildlife populations to plummet by more than two-thirds in the last 50 years, according to a new report from the World Wildlife Fund.
The decline is happening at an unprecedented rate, the report warns, and it threatens human life as well. “The findings are clear,” the report states. “Our relationship with nature is broken.“
The Living Planet Report 2020 report drew on wildlife monitoring of more than 4,300 different vertebrate species – mammals, fish, birds and amphibians from around the world. It found that population sizes for those monitored species declined by an average of 68 per cent from 1970 to 2016.
In the American tropics, including the Caribbean and Latin America, population sizes decreased by a staggering 94 per cent.
Forest clearing for agricultural space was the predominant cause of the decline, the report says, noting that one-third of the planet’s land is currently being used for food production. Human-caused climate change is another growing driver.
“We can’t ignore the evidence – these serious declines in wildlife species populations are an indicator that nature is unravelling and that our planet is flashing red warning signs of systems failure,” wrote Marco Lambertini, Director General of World Wildlife Fund International.
The 83-page document, a collaboration with the Zoological Society of London, joins a growing and ominous list of academic research and international reports warning that human activities are causing a steep decline in global biodiversity.