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The World Wide Fund for Nature’s Living Planet Report shows a dramatic decline in wildlife numbers around the world

Negative record: Numbers of examined wild species have fallen by 69 percent since 1970 – WWF calls for global compact for nature conservation

Our nature is mercilessly exploited and destroyed. This not only harms wild animals, but ultimately deprives us of our livelihood. After all, food security and the health of billions of people directly depend on healthy ecosystems

George Skatulin, Species Conservation Expert at the World Wide Fund for Nature

Vienna The global measure of biodiversity has reached a new low. According to the new Living Planet Report from the Nature Conservancy WWF The numbers of mammals, birds, amphibians, reptiles, and fish studied around the world have declined by more than two-thirds on average since 1970. The Living Planet Index is based on data from 32,000 vertebrates from 5,230 species, of which their numbers have declined by an average of 69 percent. Latin America and the Caribbean in particular were hardest hit, with a devastating 94 percent drop. “Our nature is ruthlessly exploited and destroyed. This not only harms wild animals, but ultimately deprives us of our livelihoods. After all, food security and the health of billions of people directly depend on healthy ecosystems.”, says George Skatolin, Head of International Program at WWF Austria. So the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) is calling for a global conservation pact that politicians must adopt at the United Nations Biodiversity Conference in Canada in December.

According to the WWF report, the main drivers of the negative trend include habitat destruction and overexploitation, deforestation, illegal wildlife trade, and poaching. In addition, there is a deadly ping-pong effect between species extinction and the climate crisis, which is the focus of the Living Planet Report for the first time. “Burning rainforests, dying species and more monoculture ensures that we can store less carbon dioxide. If we continue like this, we will lose nature as our best ally in the fight against the climate crisis,” warns George Skatulin of the World Wide Fund for Nature. Because forests are not only important habitats for countless species, but also huge stores of carbon dioxide, just like grasslands, swamps, and savannas.

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The WWF is calling for a fundamental change in the system to stop the overexploitation of nature. “The extinction of species must finally be recognized as an existential crisis for us humans. A transformation is possible through an ambitious and global agreement for nature conservation based on the model of the Paris Climate Agreement,” Species and their habitats need to be better protected everywhere. Because Europe is also responsible for massive destruction of nature in other parts of the world. Above all, the tropical forests of Latin America are mercilessly cut down in order to produce animal feed for export to Europe. This is the main reason for the sharp decline in the numbers of wild animals examined in South America,” the species protection expert explains.

Examples of affected species

For the 14th edition of the Living Planet Report, more collections of wildlife have been surveyed than ever before. The index is based on data from 32,000 vertebrates of 5,230 species. Some examples of species whose numbers are declining at an alarming rate:

  • subordinate Eastern plains gorilla (Gorilla Beringi Grauy) threatened by overfishing. Its population in Kahuzi-Biega National Park in the Democratic Republic of the Congo has declined by nearly 80 percent since 1994.
  • the number common dolphins (Delphine Delphis) in the Ionian Sea increased by 90 percent between 1995 and 2007 – and the overfishing of its prey is the main culprit.
  • Australia koala bear-Population (Phascolarctos cinereus) suffers from habitat destruction, for example from devastating wildfires, and has been destroyed by 50 percent since 2001.
  • In 2019, the number of flights decreased by 56 percent Skylarks (Alauda arvensis) across the skies of Europe compared to 1980. The use of pesticides in industrial agriculture and grazing are the main reasons for its decline.
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Concrete protection works for species

The Living Planet Report also gives hope. “Specific examples show that conservation measures for nature and species work. Humanity not only causes problems, but also holds the key to solving them,” says WWF expert George Scatolin. Two examples:

  • Tiger (tiger tigris) in Nepal It recorded a population increase of 91 percent from 2009 (121 tigers) to 2018 (235 tigers). This year, 355 tigers were counted – the population has almost tripled due to strict protection.
  • number of population gray seals (Halichoerus grypus) in the Baltic Sea increased by 139 percent from 2013 to 2019.

Report showing species extinction in rivers and lakes

According to a Living Planet report, stocks examined worldwide in hard-hit freshwater habitats have suffered an average loss of 83 percent – mainly due to the loss of more and more wetlands, formation of water bodies, and overexploitation. This disastrous trend can also be seen in Austria: currently more than 60 percent of native fish species are endangered and only 14 percent of rivers are ecologically sound. However, new mega-projects are always planned in a previously untouched nature: the planned expansion of the Korntal power plant in Tirol will remove up to 80 percent of the water from Ötztal and destroy a swampy area of ​​more than 6 hectares in neighboring Plattzertal – with disastrous consequences for The environment. The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) is calling for a moratorium on massive power plant construction and a nature-friendly energy transition.

Live Planet Report Background

The Living Planet report outlines Earth’s environmental health and ways out of the biodiversity crisis. The study has been published by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) since 1998 and has been published every two years since 2000. The current 14th edition was created by the WWF with the Zoological Society of London.

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Based on an assessment of 32,000 vertebrate populations of 5,230 species, the Living Planet Index 2022 shows a mean population decline of 69 percent from 1970 to 2018. For comparison: In the First Living Planet Report, the identified decline was still 30 percent for the period from 1970 to 1995. As a general rule, percentage change reflects the average relative change in the volume of stocks over a period of time – not the number of individuals lost.

Photos, videos and graphics and the WWF Living Planet Report 2022 Download: https://bit.ly/3MwAkIk
O sound ringtones By WWF species conservation expert George Skatulin: https://bit.ly/3Vm2OZ9
all information: https://www.wwf.at/living-planet-report

Questions and contact:

mag. Florian Kozak, Spokesperson for WWF Austria, +43 676 83488276, florian.kozak@wwf.at