New Delhi (ISJ) ? Fifty eight percent of the monitored species of global wildlife has been lost since 1970, says World Wildlife Fund, WWF in its Living Planet Report 2016. India, and four other countries, contributes almost half of the habitat loss and thus the wildlife. The report warned, ?global wildlife could plunge to a 67 per cent level of decline in just the 50-year period ending this decade as a result of human activities.
?Brazil, China, the United States, Russia and India account for nearly half of the planet?s total biocapacity. These few countries function as global biocapacity hubs as they are among the primary exporters of resources to the other countries. This result in great pressure on ecosystems in these countries, undoubtedly contributing to habitat loss,? said the report.
According to the report, global populations of fish, birds, mammals, amphibians and reptiles have already declined by 58 per cent between 1970 and 2012, the most recent year with available data. This places the world on a trajectory of a potential two-thirds decline within a span of the half-century ending in 2020.
The Report lists four major reasons for the decline in living species.
Habitat Loss and Degradation
Habitat loss and degradation is the most common threat to animals on the decline. Everything from unsustainable agriculture to residential or commercial development to energy production can damage vital areas for wildlife.
Our current food system impacts habitats to make way for agriculture, leads to the overfishing of our oceans, and contributes to pollution.
As our climate changes, various animals will need to adapt to survive. Changes in temperature can mix up signals that trigger events like migration and reproduction, causing them to happen at the wrong time.
Animals face the dangers of overexploitation, too. Sometimes that?s direct, like through poaching and unsustainable hunting and harvesting, and sometimes that?s indirect, like through unintentionally catching one type of sea creature while attempting to catch another.
The Living Planet Index, LPI, which measures biodiversity abundance levels based on 14,152 monitored populations of 3,706 vertebrate species, shows a persistent downward trend. On average, monitored species population declined by 58 per cent between 1970 and 2012. Monitored species are increasingly affected by pressures from unsustainable agriculture, fisheries, mining and other human activities that contribute to habitat loss and degradation, overexploitation, climate change and pollution.The way we appropriate natural resources has had a tremendous impact on the Earth?s environmental systems, impacting both people and nature. This, in turn, affects the state of biodiversity and climate. Pushing the boundaries of nine Earth system processes may lead to dangerous levels of instability in the Earth system and increasing risk for humans. Researchers suggest that humans have already driven at least four of these global processes beyond their safe boundaries.
Another way to look at the relationships between our behaviour and the Earth?s carrying capacity is through Ecological Footprint calculations. The Ecological Footprint represents the human demand on the planet?s ability to provide renewable resources and ecological services. Humanity currently needs the regenerative capacity of 1.6 Earths to provide the goods and services we use each year. Furthermore, the per capita Ecological Footprint of high income nations dwarfs that of low- and middle-income countries. Consumption patterns in high income countries result in disproportional demands on Earth?s renewable resources, often at the expense of people and nature elsewhere in the world. If current trends continue, unsustainable consumption and production patterns will likely expand along with human population and economic growth. The growth of the Ecological Footprint, the violation of Planetary Boundaries and increasing pressure on biodiversity are rooted in systemic failures inherent to the current systems of production, consumption, finance and governance.
Protecting the Earth?s natural capital and its attendant ecosystem services is in the interest of both people and nature. Developing a just and prosperous future, and defeating poverty and improving health, is much less likely to happen in a weakened or destroyed natural environment. A number of significant changes would need to happen within the global economic system in order to promote the perspective that our planet has finite resources.
WWF has called for fundamental changes in two global systems - energy and food. For the energy system, a rapid development of sustainable renewable energy sources and shifting demand toward renewable energy are key. For the food system, a dietary shift in high-income countries ? through consuming less animal protein ? and reducing waste along the food chain could contribute significantly to producing enough food within the boundaries of one planet. Furthermore, optimizing agricultural productivity within ecosystem boundaries, replacing chemical and fossil inputs by mimicking natural processes, and stimulating beneficial interactions between different agricultural systems, are key to strengthening the resilience of landscapes, natural systems and biodiversity ? and the livelihoods of those who depend on them. The speed at which we chart our course will be the key factor determining our future.
Source: WWF Living Planet Report 2016