Wildlife populations suffer massive decline in past 50 years

19th October 2022


Web destruction of rainforest credit i Stock 1257301516

Author

IEMA

Global wildlife populations have dropped by an average of 69% during the past 50 years, according to a major scientific assessment of biodiversity loss.

The biennial Living Planet Report by the WWF and the Zoological Society of London calls on world leaders to reach an ambitious agreement at December’s COP15 biodiversity summit to halt the destruction of nature.

The study, which analyses 32,000 populations of 5,230 animal species, says land-use change is still the biggest threat to nature, destroying or fragmenting natural habitats on land, in freshwater and in the sea. However, if nations are unable to limit global warming to 1.5°C, climate change is likely to become the dominant cause of biodiversity loss in the coming decades, it warns.

Rising temperatures are already driving mass mortality events, as well as the first extinctions of entire species, the assessment says. Every degree of warming is expected to increase these losses and their impact on people.

The latest report warns that rates of deforestation in Latin America and the Amazon are increasing, with 17% of the original forest already lost and another 17% degraded. The research says that the world is “rapidly approaching a tipping point beyond which our largest tropical rainforest will no longer function”.

Latin America and the Caribbean – including the Amazon – has seen the steepest decline in average wildlife population size, plummeting by 94% between 1970 and 2018. Africa saw the second largest fall, at 66%, followed by Asia and the Pacific with 55% and North America at 20%. Europe and Central Asia suffered an 18% decline in wildlife. The total loss is akin to the human population of Europe, the Americas, Africa, Oceania and China disappearing, the study says.

Population trends for monitored freshwater species are also collapsing, with a 83% decline.

Image Credit | iStock

Subscribe

Subscribe to IEMA's newsletters to receive timely articles, expert opinions, event announcements, and much more, directly in your inbox.


Transform articles

Weather damage insurance claims hit record high

Weather-related damage to homes and businesses saw insurance claims hit a record high in the UK last year following a succession of storms.

18th April 2024

Read more

The Scottish government has today conceded that its goal to reduce carbon emissions by 75% by 2030 is now “out of reach” following analysis by the Climate Change Committee (CCC).

18th April 2024

Read more

The Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi) has issued a statement clarifying that no changes have been made to its stance on offsetting scope 3 emissions following a backlash.

16th April 2024

Read more

While there is no silver bullet for tackling climate change and social injustice, there is one controversial solution: the abolition of the super-rich. Chris Seekings explains more

4th April 2024

Read more

One of the world’s most influential management thinkers, Andrew Winston sees many reasons for hope as pessimism looms large in sustainability. Huw Morris reports

4th April 2024

Read more

Vanessa Champion reveals how biophilic design can help you meet your environmental, social and governance goals

4th April 2024

Read more

Alex Veitch from the British Chambers of Commerce and IEMA’s Ben Goodwin discuss with Chris Seekings how to unlock the potential of UK businesses

4th April 2024

Read more

Regulatory gaps between the EU and UK are beginning to appear, warns Neil Howe in this edition’s environmental legislation round-up

4th April 2024

Read more

Media enquires

Looking for an expert to speak at an event or comment on an item in the news?

Find an expert

IEMA Cookie Notice

Clicking the ‘Accept all’ button means you are accepting analytics and third-party cookies. Our website uses necessary cookies which are required in order to make our website work. In addition to these, we use analytics and third-party cookies to optimise site functionality and give you the best possible experience. To control which cookies are set, click ‘Settings’. To learn more about cookies, how we use them on our website and how to change your cookie settings please view our cookie policy.

Manage cookie settings

Our use of cookies

You can learn more detailed information in our cookie policy.

Some cookies are essential, but non-essential cookies help us to improve the experience on our site by providing insights into how the site is being used. To maintain privacy management, this relies on cookie identifiers. Resetting or deleting your browser cookies will reset these preferences.

Essential cookies

These are cookies that are required for the operation of our website. They include, for example, cookies that enable you to log into secure areas of our website.

Analytics cookies

These cookies allow us to recognise and count the number of visitors to our website and to see how visitors move around our website when they are using it. This helps us to improve the way our website works.

Advertising cookies

These cookies allow us to tailor advertising to you based on your interests. If you do not accept these cookies, you will still see adverts, but these will be more generic.

Save and close