Human activity is having an increasing impact on reducing the biodiversity of our planet, and from the latest WWF Living Planet report we can find out what the damage looks like in the last 50 years. This comprehensive analysis of the state of the natural environment, created in cooperation with over 125 experts from around the world, the most important element of which is the Living Planet Index, reflecting global trends in the population of wild animals, shows that the lack of sustainable human activity is pushing the planet's natural systems to the edge of their possibilities. For example, since the seventies of the last century, the average number of surveyed populations of vertebrates, i.e. mammals, birds, fish, reptiles and amphibians, has decreased by 68%, which is a catastrophic result!
Such a tragic picture should not come as a surprise, because WWF warned in 2016 that two-thirds of wildlife could simply disappear from our planet before the end of this year, which unfortunately turned out to be an extremely accurate forecast. - The 68% average decline over the past 50 years is a disaster and clear evidence of the damage human activities are doing to nature. If nothing changes, the population will undoubtedly continue to decline, bringing wildlife to the brink of extinction and threatening the integrity of the ecosystems we depend on. But we also know that maintenance works are working and we can improve species abundance. With commitment, investments and expertise, we can reverse this trend - says Dr. Andrew Terry, Director of Conservation at ZSL.
According to the report, the losses can be attributed to the destruction of natural environments, mainly deforestation and unsustainable agriculture, and the illegal trade in wild animals also has its contribution. The loss and degradation of natural habitats affected some species more than others, and it is enough to mention the Eastern Lowland Gorilla from the Democratic Republic of Congo, whose population decreased by as much as 87% due to illegal hunting in 1994-2015! However, if we take into account the average, species living in freshwater suffered the most, because here we are talking about an 84% decrease in 1970-2016, i.e. by about 4% per year - here the record holder is the Chinese sturgeon, whose population in the Yangtze River decreased in years 1982-2015 by 97%!
As we read in the summary of the report: - The destruction of nature by man has a catastrophic impact not only on the populations of wild animals, but also on human health and all other aspects of our lives (...) The way we produce and consume food and energy, as well as disregard the environment at the heart of our current economic model have pushed the environment to its breaking point. COVID-19 is a clear sign of our disturbed relationship with nature and evidence of the profound connection between human health and the planet. It's time for us to respond to the SOS signal sent by nature. It is not only about securing the incredible diversity of the lives we love so much and with whom we have a moral duty to coexist. If we ignore the cries of nature, we will put the future of nearly 8 billion people in danger.