The average size of the wildlife population With deforestation and rampant over-consumption declining by more than two-thirds in 50 years, experts on Thursday fully warned us to protect nature to protect ourselves.
The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) said in its annual Living Planet report that human activities have severely depleted one-third of the world’s land and 40 percent of the Earth’s oceans, and that the rapid destruction of nature is having unintended consequences on health and livelihoods.
The Living Planet Index, which identifies more than 4,000 species of invertebrates, warns that increasing deforestation and agricultural expansion are the main reason behind the average decline of 68 percent of the population between 1970 and 2016.
“This is a rapid decline that we have been monitoring for 30 years and it continues in the wrong direction.” WWF International Director-General Marco Lambert told the AFP news agency.
“In 2016 we recorded a 60 per cent decline, now we have a 70 per cent decline.
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“All of this is in plain sight compared to the millions of years that many species have lived on the planet,” Lambertini said.
The report, in collaboration with the WWF International and the Zoological Society of London, warns that natural habitat damage could increase the risk of a future pandemic as humans expand more closely with wildlife.
The ‘unstable’ fall
Unprecedented economic growth in the last half decade has caused an explosion in global consumption of natural resources.
Until the 1970s, while the Earth’s capacity to reproduce mankind’s ecological footprint resources was smaller, the WWF now estimates that humans are using more than half of the planet’s capacity.
Of the more than 4,000 invertebrate species studied in this report with the assistance of about 125 experts, freshwater habitat experienced an 84 percent decline.
Other severely affected wildlife include the Eastern Inland Gorillas of the Democratic Republic of Congo and the African Gray Parrot of Ghana.
Scientists say deforestation is accelerating the spread of zoonotic diseases transmitted from animals to humans, including the new coronavirus.
“With deforestation and increased wildlife and livestock-human interactions, there is a greater chance of the spread of zoonotic diseases such as Ebola, such as COVID-19,” Fran Price Thomson, global forest practice leader at the WWF, told the Reuters Foundation.
“Forests really serve as buffers to keep those diseases away from humans – and the more we destroy them, the more we are going to unleash something that will have a serious impact on humanity.”
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If the world continues to trade as normal over the next decade, wildlife losses will take decades to reverse, and the chances of some species recovering will decrease, Price said.
She called for bold commitments and efforts by governments and corporations to make global supply chains more stable.
Consumers need to understand the effects of their buying habits on nature and buy more responsibly.
Reducing the impact of climate change
Researchers at the University of Oxford said on Thursday that nature-based solutions – such as restoring forests and mangrove forests – are important in reducing the effects of climate change.
In what they say is the first systematic review of evidence on nature-based solutions worldwide, they found that nearly 60 percent of such programs reduce climate-related stresses, such as floods, soil erosion, and food production damage.
“It’s not just about tree planting and greenhouse gas removal,” said study author Alexander Chauson.
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“In many cases, nature-based interventions can help us adapt to the waves of effects of climate change we have seen over the past months, from record-breaking heat waves to wildfires and hurricanes,” she said in a statement.
The WWF report covers 20 articles from China, Mexico to professionals, young activists, writers and academics to business leaders, journalists and domestic leaders.
Among them, the esteemed British naturalist David Attenborough urged people to “work with nature rather than against nature.”
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