Humanity and the way we feed, fuel and finance our societies and economies is pushing nature and the services that power and sustain us to the brink, according to the WWF’s 2018 Living Planet Report.
Hà Nội Customs on September 28 this year seized 960kg of pangolin’s scales and elephant tusks. The goods were illegally imported to Việt Nam via Nội Bài International Airport.—VNA/VNS Photo
The report, released on Tuesday, indicated that global populations of fish, birds, mammals, amphibians and reptiles declined, on average, by 60 per cent between 1970 and 2014, the most recent year with available data.
The top threats to species identified in the report are directly linked to human activities, including habitat loss and degradation and overexploitation of wildlife.
It also presented a sobering picture of the impact of human activity on the world’s wildlife, forests, oceans, rivers, and climate, underlining the rapidly closing window for action and the urgent need for the global community to collectively rethink and redefine how we value, protect and restore nature.
“Science is showing us the harsh reality our forests, oceans and rivers are enduring at our hands. Inch by inch and species by species, shrinking wildlife numbers and wild places are an indicator of the tremendous impact and pressure we are exerting on the planet, undermining the very living fabric that sustains us all: nature and bio-diversity,” Marco Lambertini, director general, WWF International, said.
Dr. Ben Rawson, conservation director for WWF-Việt Nam, said: “Việt Nam is not exempt from driving species population declines, both within the country’s borders and beyond.
“Vietnamese demand for ivory and rhino horn from African elephants and rhino has played a significant part in the decline of these species, fuelling large-scale international illegal trade.”
WWF announced the death of Việt Nam’s last wild rhino, killed for its horn in 2010, and is currently supporting the conservation of the country’s elephant population, which is now reduced to approximately 100 individuals.
Undermining nature’s ability
In recent decades human activity has also severely impacted the habitats and natural resources wildlife and humanity depend on such as oceans, forests, coral reefs, wetlands, and mangroves.
Twenty per cent of the Amazon has disappeared in just 50 years while the earth is estimated to have lost about half of its shallow water corals in the last 30 years.
While highlighting the extent and impact of human activity on nature, the 2018 Living Planet Report also focuses on the importance and value of nature to people’s health and well-being and that of societies and economies.
Globally, nature provides services worth around US$125 trillion a year, while also helping ensure the supply of fresh air, clean water, food, energy, medicines, and other products and materials.
The report specifically looks at the importance of pollinators which are responsible for $235-577 billion in crop production per year, and how a changing climate, intensive agricultural practices, invasive species and emerging diseases have impacted their abundance, diversity and health.
Evidence shows that the two agendas - for the environment and human development - must converge if we are to build a sustainable future for all.
The report highlights the opportunity the global community has to protect and restore nature leading up to 2020, a critical year when leaders are expected to review the progress made on the Sustainable Development Goals, the Paris Agreement and the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD).
The 12th edition of WWF’s biennial flagship publication includes the latest findings measured by the Living Planet Index tracking 16,704 populations of 4,005 vertebrate species from 1970 to 2014.
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