Image via iStock.com/Damocean
The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) just released their Living Planet Report for 2018, and it documents the sobering decrease of wild animal populations across the globe.
According to Forbes, the report shows that “populations of vertebrates—animals with backbones, including fish and mammals—fell 60 percent on average between 1970 and 2014.”
The WWF collaborated with the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) to devise a way to conduct the census of wild animal populations and biodiversity over the years. ZSL explains, “Using a method developed by ZSL and WWF, species population trends are aggregated and weighted to produce the different Living Planet Indices between 1970 and 2014. We have developed this approach to make the indicator more representative of vertebrate biodiversity.”
While getting perfect accuracy is impossible, the strategy used by WWF and ZSL was able to create an aggregate approximations similar to the way the GDP of a country is used as a proxy to measure a country’s wealth.
And the results are far from desirable. ZSL explains, “The Living Planet Report 2018 results indicate that species are faring much worse in freshwater systems and in tropical realms. Freshwater populations declined by an average of 83%, while realms—large regions separated by major barriers to plant and animal migration and therefore characterized by distinct assemblages of species—declined by between 23% and 89%, with the Neotropical and Indo-Pacific realms showing the steepest declines (89% and 64%, respectively).”
It is not all bad news, though. ZSL explains, “Amid the alarming statistics, however, there are examples of success stories where conservation intervention has resulted in the recovery of specific species populations such as the Loggerhead turtle in South Africa’s Simangaliso Wetland Park, the Eurasian lynx in France and the Eurasian beaver in Poland. Global population numbers for tigers and pandas have increased, and so has the extent of marine protected areas that now cover over 7% of the ocean.”
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