69% of vertebrate populations have disappeared

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The populations of Vertebrate animals (fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals) decreased by 69% between 1970 and 2018 due to six main threats: agriculture, overexploitation of wildlife, logging, pollution, invasive species and climate change.

Thus it follows from Living Planet Report 2022, developed by WWF and made public this Thursday around the world. This study, carried out by 89 authors and in its 14th edition since its inception in 1994, analyzes global trends in biodiversity and the health of the Earth, and is the most comprehensive analysis carried out to date on the state of nature.

The report, half-yearly in nature and produced by WWF in collaboration with the Global Footprint Network and the Zoological Society of London, examines the evolution of vertebrate populations in nearly 32,000 populations of 5,230 species of fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals from around the world.

The main conclusion is that the abundance of populations of vertebrate species decreased by an average of 69% between 1970 and 2018. Latin America recorded the largest regional decline (94%). And freshwater populations include the species whose overall decline is the largest in the world (83%).

Double emergence for vertebrates

The biennial publication of WWF and the Zoological Society of London The warning message that the Earth is currently experiencing a “double emergency” which involves “two sides of the same coin” is emphasized again: the climate crisis and the loss of biodiversity.

The repercussions of this dual global crisis are being felt with displacement and death caused by increasingly frequent extreme weather events, increased food insecurity, soil depletion, lack of access to fresh water or the increased spread of zoonotic diseases. These negative impacts affect everyone, especially the poorest and most marginalized.

The freshwater vertebrate populations are the ones showing the greatest overall decline globally, with 83% between 1970 and 2018. An example is the amazon river pink dolphin, whose population has suffered a 65% decline.

On another side, half of the planet’s corals have disappeared, with the negative impact on the chain that this implies, since they are home to a quarter of all marine species and support a complex food chain that includes humans. And the global abundance of 18 of the 31 species of oceanic sharks and rays has declined by 71% over the past fifty years.

The causes

On the other hand, the report indicates that behind this decline in the population of fauna hides the degradation and loss of habitats, the overexploitation of species, the introduction of invasive species, pollution, climate change and the diseases.

Many of these factors influenced the 66% decline in wildlife populations in Africa between 1970 and 2018, as well as the overall 55% decline in Asia-Pacific. Changes in land use are the greatest threat to nature. The report argues that the twin environmental crises can be mitigated through increased conservation and restoration efforts, more sustainable food production and consumption, and rapid and deep decarbonization of all sectors.

The 89 authors who participated in the drafting of the text call on political decision-makers to transform economies so that natural resources are properly valued and specify that it will not be possible to achieve a positive future for nature without recognizing and respecting the rights , governance and conservation leadership of indigenous peoples and local communities around the world.

The report points out that the United Nations Human Rights Council recognized last year that everyone has the right to live in a clean, healthy and sustainable environment.

healthy environment

For WWF climate change, disappearance of nature, pollution and the Covid-19 pandemic are human rights crisis. Stricter environmental laws and policies, better implementation and enforcement, greater public participation and better environmental performance have been achieved in more than 80 countries where the right to a healthy environment has been recognized.

“We can build a future where people and nature can thrive. For this, it is essential to include new approaches that integrate equity, justice and the effects of climate change and nature loss, as well as systemic changes that address the way we produce and consume, the technology we use and our economic and financial economy. systems. . To foster such changes, we must move from talking about goals and objectives to talking about values ​​and rights, both in the design of policies and in everyday life.highlighted Juan Carlos del Olmo general secretary of WWF Spain.

World leaders will meet at the 15th Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD COP15) next December. WWF expects them to enter into an agreement similar to the one Paris Agreement for climate change capable of reversing biodiversity loss and ensuring positive nature by 2030, i.e. at the end of this decade there will be more nature than at the beginning .

Character font: THE WORLD

Reference article: https://www.elmundo.es/ciencia-y-salud/medio-ambiente/2022/10/13/6347ca29fdddff85608b45ab.html

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