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Indicator Facts

CBD Strategic Goal: B: Reduce the direct pressures on biodiversity and promote sustainable use

C: To improve the status of biodiversity by safeguarding ecosystems, species and genetic diversity

Main Aichi Biodiversity Target: Target 5: By 2020, the rate of loss of all natural habitats, including forests, is at least halved and where feasible brought close to zero, and degradation and fragmentation is significantly reduced.


Target 6: By 2020 all fish and invertebrate stocks and aquatic plants are managed and harvested sustainably, legally and applying ecosystem based approaches, so that overfishing is avoided, recovery plans and measures are in place for all depleted species, fisheries have no significant adverse impacts on threatened species and vulnerable ecosystems and the impacts of fisheries on stocks, species and ecosystems are within safe ecological limits.

Target 12: By 2020 the extinction of known threatened species has been prevented and their conservation status, particularly of those most in decline, has been improved and sustained.


Secondary Aichi Biodiversity Targets: Targets 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 14

CBD AHTEG Headline Indicator: Trends in abundance, distribution and extinction risk of species; Trends in pressures from unsustainable agriculture, forestry, fisheries and aquaculture; Trends in pressures from habitat conversion, pollution, invasive species, climate change, overexploitation and underlying drivers

CBD Operational Indicator: Trends in habitat dependent species

Key Indicator Partners: 

Associate Indicator Partner: CAFF (Conservation of Arctic Flora and Fauna)

Development Status: Ready for global and national use


Background: Wild species are under pressure across all biomes and regions of the world.  These declines ultimately result from humanity’s demands on the biosphere which result in habitat loss, over-exploitation, pollution, spread of invasive species and climate change.  Decline in species populations not only threatens biodiversity, but also ecosystem services which the human race depends on for a multitude of purposes including provision of food, medicine and basic materials.

Policy questions that the indicator addresses: Measuring spatial and temporal trends in biodiversity using vertebrate population time series.

Indicator relationship to main Aichi Biodiversity Target: It measures trends in vertebrate populations of threatened and non-threatened species and is used as a proxy for monitoring biodiversity change in different habitats.

Data Information

Data Available: Global time series 1970 onwards, plus Artic time series 1970 onwards

Global indicator aggregated from: Regional, system, species and population level data

Indicator can be disaggregated at: Regional and national level


The Living Planet Index (LPI) is calculated using time-series data on more than 9000 populations of over 2,600 species of mammal, bird, reptile, amphibian and fish from all around the globe. The changes in the population of each species are aggregated and shown as an index relative to 1970, which is given a value of 1. The LPI can be thought of as a biological analogue of a stock market index that tracks the value of a set of stocks and shares traded on an exchange.

The Global LPI is the aggregate of two equally-weighted indices of vertebrate populations - the temperate and the tropical LPIs – calculated as the geometric mean of the two. The tropical LPI consists of the terrestrial and freshwater species populations found in the Afrotropical, Indo-Pacific and Neotropical realms and marine species populations from the zone between the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn. The temperate LPI includes all terrestrial and freshwater species populations from the Palearctic and Neartic realms, and marine species north and south of the tropics. In the tropical and temperate LPIs the overall trends in terrestrial, freshwater and marine species are given equal weight. The results of the LPI are published biennially in the Living Planet Report.

Last update: 2012

Next update: 2014


The LPI is not only a global index but can also be calculated for selected regions, nations, biomes or taxonomic groups, provided that there are sufficient data available.

Level at which the indicator is currently used: Global, regional

Levels at which the indicator could be used: National, sub-national/local

The indicator


Global, Temperate and Tropical Living Planet Index (1970-2008)
Source: WWF & ZSL, 2013

How to interpret the indicator

A decrease in the LPI represents an overall reduction of species populations, meaning more species have declined than increased in abundance. This implies that diversity will have reduced, even if none of those species populations has declined to zero (extinction).

A constant LPI represents no overall change in species populations and would imply no overall biodiversity loss.

Current Storyline

The current global LPI shows a 28% decline from 1970 to 2008 meaning that on average, vertebrate populations have declined in abundance over this 38 year period. The temperate and tropical indices show contrasting results. The tropical index shows that vertebrate populations have declined markedly (61%) since 1970 whereas temperate populations have increased by an average of 31%. Although the tropical index reveals a worse trend than the temperate index, it does not necessarily imply that tropical biodiversity is in a worse state as temperate populations may have undergone similar declines before 1970 when pressures were already high in many temperate regions.

National Use

The LPI is not only a global index but can also be calculated for regions and nations provided that there are sufficient data available.

LPIs have been produced for Uganda, Canada, Mediterranean Wetlands and Arctic species. At present data submitted by nations and regions must be sent directly to the responsible organizations for the LPI, WWF International and ZSL. However, work is currently underway to make the database available online, in the hope that this will encourage nations and regions to submit their data to produce both their own indicators and strengthen the global indicator.

For more information about producing regional and national Living Planet Indices contact Jonathan Loh at WWF/ZSL or Louise McRae.

Future development

The present aim is to increase the species population data coverage of the LPI in tropical regions, where there are more species but fewer data than in temperate regions, and for less well represented vertebrate groups (amphibians, reptiles, fishes). The LPI database will be made accessible via the worldwide web.

Tracking changes in abundance: Living Planet Index (2013)Collen et al, 2013. In: Collen B, Pettorelli N, Baillie JEM & Durant SM. (eds) Biodiversity Monitoring & Conservation: Bridging the gap between global commitment and local action. Wiley-Blackwell: Cambridge, U.K.
Large mammal population declines in Africa’s Protected Areas (2010)Craigie, I., et al. Biological Conservation 143 (9): 2221-2228.
Evolution Lost: Status and Trends of the World's VertebratesEnglish
Living Planet IndexIn: Living Planet Report 2010
Long term trends in the abundance of Mediterranean wetland vertebrates: from global recovery to localized declines (2011)Galewski, T., et al. Biological Conservation 144 (5): 1392-1399.
The Arctic Species Trend Index 2011: Update of the ASTI, an in-depth look at marine species and development of spatial analysis techniques (2012)English
The Living Planet Index (2012)In: Living Planet Report 2012 (English)
Africa Ecological Footprint Report (2012)English, Français, Português
The Arctic Species Trend Index: using vertebrate population trends to monitor the health of this rapidly changing ecosystem (2012)McRae, L., et al. Biodiversity 13 (3-4): 144-156.
Making robust policy decisions using global biodiversity indicators (2012)Nicholson, E., et al. PLoS ONE 7 (7): e41128.
Arctic Species Trend Index 2010: Tracking Trends in Arctic WildlifeEnglish
Monitoring change in vertebrate abundance: the Living Planet Index (2009)Journal article: Multiple authors. Conservation Biology, 23: 317-327
Living Planet Index: Guidance for national and regional use. Version 1.1. (2010BIP, WWF & ZSL 2008)English
The Living Planet Index for Migratory Species: an index of change in population abundance (ZSL 2008)Final Report for the CMS
Towards an observatory of Mediterranean wetlands: evolution of biodiversity from 1970 to the present (Tour du Valat & MedWet Initiative 2008)English
Hacia un Observatorio de HM - Evolucion de la biodiversidad desde 1970 hasta nuestros dias (Tour du Valat & MedWet Initiative 2008)Español
Vers un Observatoire des ZHM - Evolution de la biodiversité de 1970 à nos jours (Tour du Valat & MedWet Initiative 2008)Français
2010 and Beyond: Rising to the biodiversity challenge (WWF, ZSL & Global Footprint Network 2008)English
Canada Living Planet Report 2007 (WWF, ZSL & Global Footprint Network 2007)English
Living Planet Report 2008 (WWF, Global Footprint Network & ZSL 2008)English
Informe Planeta Vivo 2008 (WWF, Global Footprint Network & ZSL 2008)Español
Rapports Planéte Vivante 2008 (WWF, Global Footprint Network & ZSL 2008)Français
Ж И В А Я П Л А Н Е Т А – 2 0 0 8 (WWF, Global Footprint Network & ZSL 2008)русский язык
地球生命力报告 2 0 0 8 (WWF, Global Footprint Network & ZSL 2008)中文
Living Planet Report 2008 (WWF, Global Footprint Network & ZSL 2008 )Italia
Living Planet Report 2008 (WWF, Global Footprint Network & ZSL 2008)Deutsch
Living Planet Report 2008 (WWF, Global Footprint Network & ZSL 2008)Nederlands
The Living Planet Index: using species population time series to track trends in biodiversity (2005)Journal Article: Mutiple authors. Transactions of the Royal Society B. 360: 289–295
Other useful links

Photo credits:
Group of parakeets ©Gwen Harlow; Herd of zebras ©Dani; Eastern Pomfreds ©Richard Ling

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