Global wildlife populations have halved in 40 years

September 30, 2014

According the World Wild Fund for Nature (WWF) Living Planet Report 2014 – released today – global wildlife populations have halved in less than half a century. The biennial report highlights the pressing need to develop solutions to the intense pressure humanity is placing on natural resources.

This, the tenth edition of the Living Planet Report, is based on a database held by the Zoological Society of London, called the Living Planet Index. This database follows trends in over 10,000 populations of 3038 species, and has done so for over 40 years. It also studies how human consumption levels have changed, showing that the largest recorded threat to biodiversity arising from the combination of habitat loss and degradation – driven by untenable human consumption levels.

The report found that populations of mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and fish have declined by an average of 52 per cent since the 1970s. The findings for the rivers, lakes and wetlands were even more shocking, showing that freshwater species populations have declined by almost 76 per cent – almost double that of land and marine species, emphasising the need for more sustainable fishing practices. Furthermore, marine species populations declined by 39 per cent, with senescent species including marine turtles, sharks and large migratory sea birds.

While revealing the dangerous levels of biodiversity loss, the Report also makes suggestions to overcome this trend and ensure a sustainable and healthy planet. In particular, it suggests we find better ways of managing, utilising and sharing natural resources, to ensure food, water and energy for all of Earth’s inhabitants.

To read the full report and find out more about the threats to marine life, click here.