Pressures exerted on the planet has led to a 60 per cent fall in wildlife population and 87 per cent decline in wetlands since 1970, the WWF’s Living Planet Report 2018 has warned.
Ours is also the first generation that has a “clear picture of the value of nature and the enormous impact we have on it”, the report says. “We may also be the last that can act to reverse this trend.”
The report, released on Tuesday, paints a very grim picture of human activity on the condition of wildlife, forests, oceans, rivers and the climate. It makes a case for urgent need for the global community to take stock and “collectively rethink and redefine how we value, protect and restore nature”.
WWF-India Secretary General and CEO Ravi Singh also pointed to the serious threats to soil ecology, land degradation, wetlands and threat to pollinators like bees which have direct consequences on human health and food security. “Soil biodiversity is a new addition to the report. There is a serious threat to global soil biodiversity,” he said. Reduction and disappearance of wetlands, he said, was a serious concern for India.
Though India is among the countries with the lowest ecological footprint of consumption, the report points out that it is among the worst when it comes to soil biodiversity. The report lists “loss of above ground diversity, pollution and nutrient overloading, intensive agriculture, fire, soil erosion, desertification and climate change” as some of the risk indicators.
The report also lists threats from habitat loss and degradation, over-exploitation, climate change, pollution and invasive species. Specifically, it points to over-exploitation of nature through agriculture and deforestation as major causes.
WWF-India said that over 4,000 species were monitored across the globe, and a 60 per cent decline was noticed between 1970 to 2014. “Average abundance of 16,704 populations representing 4,005 species monitored across the globe declined by 60 per cent between 1970 to 2014,” the report states. Specifically, the report monitored vertebrate species, or animals with a backbone, with database containing information on over 22,000 population of mammals, birds, fish, reptiles and amphibians.
Singh also pointed out that pollinators were under serious threat. “More than 75 per cent of leading global food crops depend on pollinators… Economically, pollination increases the global value of crop production by $237-$577 billion per year to growers alone and keeps price down for consumers,” the report says.