Nearly One Third of World's Species Extinct Since 1970
Original Source: BBC News
Between a quarter and a third of the world's wildlife has been lost since 1970, according to data compiled by the Zoological Society of London. Populations of land-based species fell by 25%, marine by 28% and freshwater by 29%. Humans are wiping out about 1% of all other species every year, and one of the "great extinction episodes" in the Earth's history is under way, it says. Pollution, farming and urban expansion, over-fishing and hunting are blamed.
The Living Planet Index, compiled by the society in partnership with the wildlife group WWF, tracks the fortunes of more than 1,400 species of fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals, using scientific publications and online databases. It said numbers had declined by 27% in the 35 years from 1970 to 2005. Some of the worst hit are marine species which saw their numbers plummet by 28% in just 10 years, between 1995 and 2005. Populations of ocean birds have fallen by 30% since the mid 1990s, while land-based populations have dropped by 25%.
The WWF said that over the next 30 years, climate change was also expected to become a significant threat to species. Director general James Leape said: "Reduced biodiversity means millions of people face a future where food supplies are more vulnerable to pests and disease and where water is in irregular or short supply. "No-one can escape the impact of biodiversity loss because reduced global diversity translates quite clearly into fewer new medicines, greater vulnerability to natural disasters and greater effects from global warming."
The WWF is calling on governments meeting in Bonn to honour their commitments to put in place effective protected areas for wildlife and to adopt a target to achieve net annual zero deforestation by 2020. The UK's Biodiversity Minister, Joan Ruddock, said the report showed that the international community had to work together to stem the decline. "The fact that human activities have caused more rapid changes in biodiversity in the last 50 years than at any other time in human history should concern us all," she said. "Supporting wildlife is critical to all our futures."
Images courtesy of BBC News and WWF
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