A report by the WWF published on October 30 reveals how our actions are degrading the natural world – the very basis on which our livelihood depends. The Living Planet Report 2018 shows that between 1970 and 2014, vertebrate – mammal, fish, bird, amphibian and reptile – population sizes have been reduced by 60%. South and Central America have been hit particularly hard, suffering population declines of 89%.
The report is one of the most comprehensive global analyses of biodiversity, yet it does have its limitations. It only tracks vertebrates, sampling is not standardised across different biomes, and it ignores genetic diversity.
It’s also worth noting that other global studies have reported different figures for biomass decline. A study in Nature looking at plant and insect species, estimates declines in species abundance of around 11%, and a study from Germany found a 75% decline in flying insect biomass in the 27 years up to 2016.
These are large discrepancies and clearly this topic needs further exploration. However, all these studies support the conclusion that we are losing biodiversity at an alarming rate.