The state of the world’s biodiversity appears worse than ever.
The Living Planet Index (LPI), which measures trends in thousands of vertebrate species populations, shows a decline of 52 per cent between 1970 and 2010 (Figure 2). In other words, the number of mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and fish across the globe is, on average, about half the size it was 40 years ago. This is a much bigger decrease than has been reported previously, as a result of a new methodology which aims to be more representative of global biodiversity.
Biodiversity is declining in both temperate and tropical regions, but the decline is greater in the tropics. The 6,569 populations of 1,606 species in the temperate LPI declined by 36 per cent from 1970 to 2010. The tropical LPI shows a 56 per cent reduction in 3,811 populations of 1,638 species over the same period. Latin America shows the most dramatic decline – a fall of 83 per cent. Habitat loss and degradation, and exploitation through hunting and fishing, are the primary causes of decline. Climate change is the next most common primary threat, and is likely to put more pressure on populations in the future.
Links to full report and Summary from the World Wildlife Fund.