WWF, in partnership with the Zoological Society of London (ZSL), have just launched their latest report '2010 and Beyond: Rising to the Biodiversity Challenge', in time for the ninth meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP 9)in Bonn, Germany.
The report uses two indicators to measure trends in the state of global biodiversity and human demands on the biosphere. These indicators - the Living Planet Index (LPI) and the Ecological Footprint- have also been adopted by the Convention on Biological Diversity to assess progress towards the 2010 target. The LPI uses population trends of species from around the world to assess the condition of global biodiversity. In this current report, the dataset has been expanded to incorporate population trend data from 1970 to 2005. The index has been calculated using 4,000 populations of 811 bird, 302 mammal, 241 fish, 83 amphibian and 40 reptile species. Results of the report show that the global LPI has declined by approximately 27% from 1970 to 2005. When disaggregated for terrestrial, marine and freshwater vertebrates the LPI declined by 25%, 28% and 29%, respectively. There has been no significant change in the direction of the index since 1976, meaning global diversity decline shows no sign of abating, and the 2010 target has not yet been met. Reasons for species decline highlighted in the report are climate change, pollution, the destruction of animals’ natural habitat, the spread of invasive species, and the overexploitation of species.
The LPI has also shown significant population declines for individual species, including the Polar Bear, Chimpanzee, Scalloped Hammerhead Shark and Common Snipe. Populations of the Yangtze River dolphin have also rapidly declined and many scientists now believe this species to be extinct as a result of human activity (collisions with boats, habitat loss and pollution).
The Ecological Footprint measures humanity’s demands on the biosphere to produce resources and absorb carbon dioxide. New methods and standards for calculating the Ecological Footprint, developed by the Global Footprint Network
and its partner organisations, have been used in this report to present results from 1961 to 2003. Results show that humanity’s footprint first grew larger than the global biocapacity in the 1980s, and this overshoot has been increasing ever since. In 2003, humanity’s total footprint exceeded the productive capacity of the biosphere by 25%, and its rate of growth shows no sign of diminishing. To put this into context, it took approximately a year and three months for the Earth to produce the ecological resources used in just 2003. To download a copy of the report click here.
Posted: 16 May 2008