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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

Type of Indicator: State and Pressure

Key Indicator Partners: 

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

Development Status: Ready for global and national use

Reason

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 12: The Living Planet Index measures trends in the size of populations of threatened and non-threatened vertebrate species to assess if conservation actions are successful and if the conservation risk status of species has changed.

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

Status

The Living Planet Index (LPI) is calculated using time-series data on more than 10,000 populations of over 3,000 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 Living Planet Index is the aggregate of three equally-weighted indices of vertebrate populations from terrestrial, freshwater and marine systems. All three system LPIs also show a decline – terrestrial and marine both at 39% whereas freshwater systems are faring worse with a decline of 76% since 1970. The method has recently been adapted with a new weighting procedure to give a better representation of global vertebrate diversity and to correct for a bias towards well studied species from Europe and North America. The result is a steeper decline than in other versions of the LPI as a result of placing more weight on highly diverse regions and species groups which, on average, are declining faster.The results of the LPI are published biennially in the Living Planet Report.

Last update: 2012

Next update: 2014

 

Scale

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 and Regional

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

The indicator

The global Living Planet Index shows a 52% decline from 1970 to 2010 meaning that on average, vertebrate populations have declined in abundance over this 40 year period.


Figure 1: Global Living Planet Index, 1970-2010

Source: WWF & ZSL, 2014

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 Living Planet Index (LPI) is calculated using time-series data on more than 10,000 populations of over 3,000 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 current global Living Planet Index shows a 52% decline from 1970 to 2010 meaning that on average, vertebrate populations have declined in abundance over this 40 year period.

The Global Living Planet Index is the aggregate of three equally-weighted indices of vertebrate populations from terrestrial, freshwater and marine systems. All three system LPIs also show a decline – terrestrial and marine both at 39% whereas freshwater systems are faring worse with a decline of 76% since 1970. The method has recently been adapted with a new weighting procedure to give a better representation of global vertebrate diversity and to correct for a bias towards well studied species from Europe and North America. The result is a steeper decline than in other versions of the LPI as a result of placing more weight on highly diverse regions and species groups which, on average, are declining faster.

This storyline is based on data from 2010.

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 can be sent directly to the responsible organizations for the LPI, WWF International and ZSL. However, the database is 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 or Louise McRae or Robin Freeman at ZSL or Jonathan Loh of WWF/ZSL. 

 

Future development

The present aim is to continue to increase the species population data coverage of the LPI. We will also be developing more regional and national applications of the index and using the LPI data to assess effectiveness or the global protected area network.

Publications
 TitleDescription
Use it or lose it: measuring trends in wild species subject to substantial use. (2014)Megan Tierney, Rosamunde Almond, Damon Stanwell-Smith, Louise McRae, Christoph Zöckler, Ben Collen, Matt Walpole, Jon Hutton and Steven de Bie. Oryx, 48, pp 420-429.
Living Planet Index in Living Planet Report 2014: species and spaces, people and places. (2014)McRae.L, Freeman.R, Deinet.S. (McClellan, R., Iyengar, L., Jeffries, B. And N. Oerlemans (Eds) WWF, Gland, Switzerland
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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