Species populations in free fall and heading for extinction: report

Wildlife populations around the world are bound for extinction as habitats are lost, degraded and climate change makes the planet an inhospitable place, according to a new report.

The World Wildlife Fund’s Living Planet Report for 2014 shows dramatic declines in wildlife – more than half in just 40 years – and the need for sustainable solutions. The report also shows the world’s ecological footprint – humanity’s demands on nature – continues on an upward march.

“The scale of biodiversity loss and damage to the very ecosystems that are essential to our existence is alarming,” Ken Norris, director of science at the Zoological Society of London, said in a statement. “This damage is not inevitable but a consequence of the way we choose to live. Although the report shows the situation is critical, there is still hope. Protecting nature needs focused conservation action, political will and support from industry.”

The report found:

52 – percentage decline of  fish, birds, mammals, amphibians and reptiles population since 1970.

76 – percentage decline of freshwater species

1.5 – number of Earths it would take to generate the resources necessary to support our current global ecological footprint.

3.7 – number of Earth it would take if everyone lived as a typical Canadian

Canada, however, is hardly the worst offender. According to the report it ranks 11th in per capital ecological footprint. The top 10 countries on that unenviable list are: Kuwait, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Denmark, Belgium, Trinidad and Tobago, Singapore, United States, Bahrain and Sweden.

Marco Lambertini, director general of WWF International, considers the report a call to action for sustainable development.

“Biodiversity is a crucial part of the systems that sustain life on Earth – and the barometer of what we are doing to this planet, our only home. We urgently need bold global action in all sectors of society to build a more sustainable future,” he said in a statement.

Species around the world are in worse shape than previous reports indicated. And that, according to David Miller, president and CEO of WWF-Canada, has an impact on the bottom line.

“Healthy nature is the foundation of a healthy economy,” he said in a statement. “Canada’s long-term prosperity depends on balancing our economic and ecological health and securing Canada’s true wealth, our environmental riches. We have an opportunity to lead the way, reducing our footprint and moving towards a more sustainable future.”

Now, we wait and see how governments and industry react.

Photo Steve Kazlowski/WWF


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