With wildlife populations cut in half, governments need to redouble efforts

October 6, 2014, WWF
African elephant (Loxodonta africana). Etosha national park, Namibia. Credit: naturepl.com/Tony Heald / WWF

A status report on biodiversity protection efforts shows that serious action is required to reduce pressures on natural systems and prevent continued decline of wildlife. The report was released on Monday at the opening meeting of the Convention of Biological Diversity in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

The , the fourth edition of the Global Biodiversity Outlook, shows that some gains have been made toward meeting global targets for biodiversity protection. However, WWF is concerned that in most cases progress will not be sufficient unless urgent action is taken.

"Governments must supercharge efforts to fulfill their promise to strengthen protections for nature by 2020," said Susan Brown, WWF Director of Global Policy. "CBD, its parties and all stakeholders cannot afford to fail. This meeting must break down barriers to generate the willpower and resources to protect what little remains of our natural world."

In 2010, parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity adopted a strategic plan and the Aichi targets, a set of 20 goals aimed at stemming species and by 2020. According to today's report, a target to reduce human impacts on coral reefs and other ecosystems impacted by or ocean acidification will not be met by its 2015 deadline.

"The natural essentials of life – the ocean, fresh water, forests – are generally valued at zero when governments do their national bookkeeping," said Brown. "We flip from apathy to panic when those same natural systems are damaged and the true economic and social costs of biodiversity loss are revealed. We need to invest in our natural infrastructure before we suffer its irreversible loss."

Last week, WWF's Living Planet Report 2014 found that global wildlife populations have declined, on average, by 52 per cent in the 40 year period since 1970. According to the WWF report, freshwater species have suffered losses almost double that of land and marine species. The majority of these declines are coming from tropical regions, with Latin America enduring the most dramatic drop.

According to the WWF report, the biggest recorded threats to biodiversity come from the combined impacts of habitat loss and degradation. Exploitation of wildlife and climate change are also significant threats.

"The Living Planet Report and the Global Biodiversity Outlook highlight the dramatic changes we have seen in wildlife, both on land and in water. As societies rapidly develop, it is critical to integrate biodiversity goals into national efforts to address poverty eradication, , water, health, and energy," said Brown

At the current round of meetings in South Korea, WWF is calling for the expansion of protected areas that are critical to safeguard natural places and wildlife. Emphasis should be placed on coastal systems that are connected to local livelihoods and food security. WWF is also asking governments to focus on halting deforestation and other habitat loss.

"Governments continue to work against their own interests by providing tax breaks and subsidies for nature-busting programmes," said Brown. "We need to update and deliver national plans, at least double international funding for nature, and put in place financial incentives for protecting the natural foundation to the societies we want to build."

Explore further: UN biodiversity meet warns of unmet targets (Update)

Related Stories

Group: Wildlife populations down drastically

September 29, 2014

Populations of about 3,000 species of wildlife around the world have plummeted far worse than previously thought, according to a new study by one of the world's biggest environmental groups.

Stowaway species threaten biodiversity

October 3, 2014

In the early 1980s, the North American comb jellyfish quit its Atlantic home, hid away in the belly of a cargo ship and headed for the Black Sea.

Protected areas offer glimmers of hope for wildlife

October 1, 2014

National parks and other protected areas offer hope for threatened species at a time of plunging wildlife numbers, conservationist group WWF said Tuesday, but their success has not been universal.

Recommended for you

Paleontologists report world's biggest Tyrannosaurus rex

March 22, 2019

University of Alberta paleontologists have just reported the world's biggest Tyrannosaurus rex and the largest dinosaur skeleton ever found in Canada. The 13-metre-long T. rex, nicknamed "Scotty," lived in prehistoric Saskatchewan ...

NASA instruments image fireball over Bering Sea

March 22, 2019

On Dec. 18, 2018, a large "fireball—the term used for exceptionally bright meteors that are visible over a wide area—exploded about 16 miles (26 kilometers) above the Bering Sea. The explosion unleashed an estimated 173 ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.