Animal populations across the globe have decreased an average of 68% since 1970, a new study finds.
The World Wildlife Federation’s Living Plant Report 2020 saw the decline in population sizes of mammals, fish, birds, reptiles and amphibians between 1970 and 2016.
Animal species in Latin America and the Caribbean have reduced the most with a 94% average decline in population. Global freshwater populations have declined 84%.
The report found that human actions, including the growth of consumption, population, global trade and urbanization have made a “disastrous” impact on biodiversity, the animal and plant life that make up functional ecosystems.
“This report reminds us that we destroy the planet at our peril – because it is our home,” said WWF-US President and CEO Carter Roberts. “As humanity’s footprint expands into once-wild areas, we’re devastating species populations. But we’re also exacerbating climate change and increasing the risk of zoonotic diseases like COVID-19. We cannot shield humanity from the impacts of environmental destruction. It’s time to restore our broken relationship with nature for the benefit of species and people alike.”
According to the report, the most important driver for biodiversity loss is land-use change, mainly the conversion of animal habitats into agricultural systems.
The report also found that the trends of the last 50 years can be flattened and reversed with urgent action.
You can read the full report here.