An intergovernmental ecological body said on Friday that the biodiversity, the essential variety of life forms on Earth, continued to decline in every region of the world, significantly reducing nature’s capacity to contribute to people’s well-being.
Those alarming trends are endangering economies, livelihoods, food security and the quality of life of people everywhere, according to four peer-reviewed regional reports released by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES).
Human-induced climate change, which affects temperature, precipitation and the nature of extreme events, is increasingly driving biodiversity loss and the reduction of nature’s contributions to people, said Jake Rice, a co-chair of the Americas assessment.
In the Americas, the populations of species are about 31 percent smaller than those was at the time of European colonization, according the report. With the growing effects of climate change added to the other drivers, this loss is projected to reach 40 percent by 2050, it says.
In Africa, by 2100, climate change could also result in the loss of more than half of African bird and mammal species, a 20 to 30 percent decline in the productivity of Africa’s lakes and significant loss of African plant species.
The most recent sad example went to the death of the world’s only remaining male northern white rhino in Kenya on Monday. Its death left only two female northern white rhinos on the planet.
There have been some good news in Asia, however. Over the past 25 years, marine protected areas in the region increased by almost 14 percent and terrestrial protected area by 0.3 percent. Its forest coverage increased by 2.5 percent, with the highest increases in North East Asia (22.9 percent) and by South Asia (5.8 percent).
But the report considered those efforts in Asia insufficient to halt the loss of biodiversity. Unsustainable aquaculture practices, overfishing and destructive harvesting, threaten coastal and marine ecosystems, with projections that, if current fishing practices continue, there will be no exploitable fish stocks in the region by 2048.
Also in Asia, intertidal zones are also rapidly deteriorating due to human activities as up to 90 percent of corals will suffer severe degradation by 2050, even under conservative climate change scenarios.
In the European Union, only 7 percent of marine species and 9 percent of marine habitat types have shown a “favorable conservation status.” Moreover 27 percent of species assessments and 66 percent of habitat types assessments show an “unfavorable conservation status.”
“One of the most important findings across the four IPBES regional assessments is that failure to prioritize policies and actions to stop and reverse biodiversity loss, and the continued degradation of nature’s contributions to people,” said Anne Larigauderie, the Executive Secretary of IPBES.
“Tools like these four regional assessments provide scientific evidence for better decision making and a path we can take forward to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals and harness nature’s power for our collective sustainable future,” said Achim Steiner, Administrator of United Nations Development Program.