Dark picture in IPBES report
A new assessment of global biodiversity paints a gloomy picture of the accelerating decline of life on Earth.
The Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) assessment says habitat loss, climate change, pollution and invasive species are singled out as drivers of the decline.
The report says around 1 million species already facing extinction, many within decades, unless action is taken to reduce the intensity of drivers of biodiversity loss.
Compiled by 145 expert authors from 50 countries over the past three years, with inputs from another 310 contributing authors, the report assesses changes over the past five decades, providing a picture of the relationship between economic development pathways and their impacts on nature.
Based on the systematic review of about 15,000 scientific and government sources, the report also draws (for the first time ever at this scale) on indigenous and local knowledge, particularly addressing issues relevant to Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities.
“Biodiversity and nature’s contributions to people are our common heritage and humanity’s most important life-supporting ‘safety net’. But our safety net is stretched almost to breaking point,” said Prof. Sandra Díaz (Argentina), who co-chaired the assessment.
“The diversity within species, between species and of ecosystems, as well as many fundamental contributions we derive from nature, are declining fast, although we still have the means to ensure a sustainable future for people and the planet.”
The average abundance of native species in most major land-based habitats has fallen by at least 20 per cent, mostly since 1900.
More than 40 per cent of amphibian species, almost 33 per cent of reef-forming corals and more than a third of all marine mammals are threatened.
Other notable findings of the report include:
- Three-quarters of the land-based environment and about 66 per cent of the marine environment have been significantly altered by human actions. On average these trends have been less severe or avoided in areas held or managed by Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities
- More than a third of the world’s land surface and nearly 75 per cent of freshwater resources are now devoted to crop or livestock production
- The value of agricultural crop production has increased by about 300 per cent since 1970, raw timber harvest has risen by 45 per cent and approximately 60 billion tons of renewable and non-renewable resources are now extracted globally every year – having nearly doubled since 1980
- Land degradation has reduced the productivity of 23 per cent of the global land surface, up to US$577 billion in annual global crops are at risk from pollinator loss and 100-300 million people are at increased risk of floods and hurricanes because of loss of coastal habitats and protection
- In 2015, 33 per cent of marine fish stocks were being harvested at unsustainable levels; 60 per cent were maximally sustainably fished, with just 7 per cent harvested at levels lower than what can be sustainably fished
- Urban areas have more than doubled since 1992
- Plastic pollution has increased tenfold since 1980, 300-400 million tons of heavy metals, solvents, toxic sludge and other wastes from industrial facilities are dumped annually into the world’s waters, and fertilizers entering coastal ecosystems have produced more than 400 ocean ‘dead zones’, totalling more than 245,000 km2 (591-595) - a combined area greater than that of the United Kingdom
- Negative trends in nature will continue to 2050 and beyond in all of the policy scenarios explored in the Report, except those that include transformative change – due to the projected impacts of increasing land-use change, exploitation of organisms and climate change, although with significant differences between regions