Updated Oct 14, 2022

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Wildlife in great decline since 1970

The Living Planet Report 2022, the WWF's most comprehensive study into global biodiversity and the health of the planet, has revealed that global wildlife populations have declined by 69% on average since 1970.

The report, compiled by 89 authors, concentrates on monitored populations of vertebrates and has discovered an alarming decline. This covers roughly 32,000 populations of 5,230 animal species.

It found that populations in:

  • Latin America and the Caribbean have endured the worst decline of around 94% since 1970;
  • Africa had fallen 66%;
  • Asia and the Pacific had fallen 55%;
  • North America had fallen 20%;
  • Europe and Central Asia had fallen 18%.

Global freshwater species have declined by 83% on average in the same period. Although the overall average decline is now 69%, four years ago it was calculated as being a 60% decline.

One of the main reasons for the decline is biodiversity loss. This is, according to the report, driven by habitat loss, species overexploitation, invasive species, pollution, climate change and diseases. As the WWF has stated, biodiversity sustains all life on earth, including humans. Should biodiversity continue to decline, it could have very serious consequences for human populations, health and economies.

As a result, the report urges governments to alter their economies to make sure natural resources are valued correctly. Considering biodiversity loss and climate change share similar underlying causes, the authors state that altering food production and consumption, cutting emissions quickly and investing in conservation can all help to address both crises.

Carter Roberts, president and CEO of WWF-US, said "The world is waking up to the fact that our future depends on reversing the loss of nature just as much as it depends on addressing climate change. And you can’t solve one without solving the other. Everyone has a role to play in reversing these trends, from individuals to companies to governments."

In light of this report, leaders from across the world will be meeting in December for the 15th Conference of the Parties to the Convention of Biological Diversity, or COP15. Perhaps the findings of the report will influence their decisions at what has become a crucial meeting.

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