New report unveils extent of human impact on the planet

Human activity is having a devastating impact on the world’s wildlife, forests, oceans, rivers and climate, according to WWF’s latest Living Planet Report. The findings show that the way we eat, fuel and finance our societies and economies is pushing nature to its limits.

Global populations of fish, birds, mammals, amphibians and reptiles declined by 60 per cent on average between 1970 and 2014, the most recent year with available data, with the top threats to the species directly linked to human activities, including habitat loss and degradation, and overexploitation of wildlife.

These are the findings of WWF’s Living Planet Report 2018, which was first published 20 years ago to present a comprehensive overview of the state of our natural world.

“Inch by inch and species by species, shrinking wildlife numbers and wild places are an indicator of the tremendous impact and pressure we are exerting on the planet, undermining the very living fabric that sustains us all: nature and biodiversity,” commented Marco Lambertini, Director General, WWF International, in a statement.

Over recent decades, human activity has also severely impacted the habitats and natural resources wildlife and humanity depend on such as oceans, forests, coral reefs, wetlands and mangroves. 20 per cent of the Amazon has disappeared in just 50 years while the earth is estimated to have lost about half of its shallow water corals in the past 30 years, says the report.

It highlights that runaway human consumption is severely undermining nature’s ability to power and sustain our lives, societies and economies, while noting that globally, nature provides services for humanity worth around 125 trillion dollars every year.

The Living Planet Report 2018 underlines the opportunity the global community has to protect and restore nature leading up to 2020, a critical year when leaders are expected to review the progress made on the Sustainable Development Goals, the Paris Agreement and the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD).

Photo credit: World Bank Photo Collection/ CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

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