Earth’s wildlife population declined by 60 per cent in 44 years: WWF

The Cerrado a vast tropical savanna ecoregion of Brazil is being cleared for soy monoculture

The "Living Planet Report" for 2018 focuses on using the latest tracking and big-data surveillance of the natural world to come to a bleak conclusion: it's not just endangered and extinct species, which account for a massive loss of biomass.

The report uses the term "Great Acceleration" as the unique event we are now experiencing in the 4.5 billion-year history of the planet with exploding human population and economic growth driving unprecedented planetary change through the increased demand for energy, land and water.

Wildlife and the ecosystems are vital to human life, said Prof Bob Watson, one of the world's most eminent environmental scientists and now chair of an intergovernmental panel on biodiversity that said in March that the destruction of nature is as risky as climate change.

The report has also estimated that increased demand for land, water and energy over the past 50 years has increased humankind's global ecological footprint - a measure of consumption of natural resources - by over 190 per cent.

WWF has called for an ambitious "global deal" for nature and people, similar to the worldwide Paris Agreement to tackle climate change, as the conservation charity's new report spelled out the damage being done to the natural world.

You can read the report in full here. "Nature is not a "nice to have" - it is our life-support system".

The report concludes that, in order to reverse current trends in biodiversity loss, society needs to "aim higher".

The report specifically looks at the importance of pollinators which are responsible for US$ 235-577 billion in crop production per year, and how a changing climate, intensive agricultural practices, invasive species and emerging diseases have impacted their abundance, diversity and health.

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"The future of millions of species on Earth seems not to have captured the imagination or attention of the world's leaders enough to catalyze the change necessary", the report says.

The WWF's report comes just weeks after a United Nations report on climate change warned that global temperatures are rising quickly, and risk rising to 1.5 degrees, which would wipe out most of the planet's coral reefs and cause severe heatwaves.

The report says freshwater species, of particular concern for Great Lakes fisheries, are down 81 per cent.

Since 1970 the world's population has nearly doubled; from 3.7 billion to 7.2 billion today.

The report "reminds us we need to change course", WWF-US President Carter Roberts said in a statement.

Human beings have wiped out a staggering 60% of the global populations of mammals, birds, fish, reptiles and amphibians since 1970, said the World Wildlife Fund.

South and Central America are the worst affected regions, seeing a drop of 89 percent in vertebrate populations. The "shocking truth", said Barrett, is that the wildlife crash is continuing unabated.

Similarly, he argued, threatened ecosystem services long taken for granted - drinkable water, breathable air, heat-absorbing oceans, forests that soak up CO2, productive soil - are worth tens of trillions of dollars every year. We, as a nation have to come up with solutions that ensure these landscapes stay for future generations whilst supporting the communities and the wildlife that share them.

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