Numerous studies have indicated that the world is experiencing the sixth mass extinction event. The top threats to animal and plant species are linked to human activities and overexploitation of wildlife and plants, which are driven by ever-rising demand for food and energy. With the growth of human population and industrialization, human activities are destroying nature and wiping out animal and plant species at an astonishing rate, threatening our human life and well-being.
On 6 May 2019, a landmark United Nations report entitled “Global Assessment Report on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services” was released. The summary of which was approved at the 7th session of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) Plenary. Based on a review of about 15,000 scientific and government sources, the global report takes a comprehensive look in 15 years at the state of the planet’s biodiversity.
Six months earlier (October 30, 2018), the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) also released its latest report on the current state and trends of global vertebrate biodiversity. The report was entitled “Living Planet Report 2018”. For better understanding of whole profile of biodiversity loss on Earth, key facts and statistics about biodiversity loss, extracted from both reports, are compiled at the following:
- Currently, the world is experiencing the 6th mass extinction event. More than 1 million animal and plant species are threatened with extinction.
- In total, there are approximately 8 million animal and plant species on Earth (including 5.5 million insect species).
- On average, 25% species are threatened with extinction across terrestrial, freshwater and marine vertebrate, invertebrate and plant groups that have been studied in sufficient detail.
- The current rate of global species extinction is hundreds of times higher than the average over the last 10 million years, and the rate is still accelerating.
- It is estimated that there is a total of 5.9 million terrestrial species over the world; more than 500,000 terrestrial species are living with insufficient habitat for long term survival.
- More than 40% of amphibian species, almost 33% of reef-forming corals and more than 33% of all marine mammals are now threatened with extinction.
- At least 680 vertebrate species had been driven to extinction by human actions since the 16th century.
- More than 9% (around 560) of all domesticated breeds of mammals used for food and agriculture had become extinct by 2016, with at least 1,000 more breeds threatened.
- Around 10% of insect species are now threatened with extinction.
- Since 1900, average abundance of native species in most major terrestrial biomes has declined by at least 20%.
- More than 3.5% of domesticated breed of birds were extinct by 2016.
- The distributions of almost half (47%) of terrestrial flightless mammals and almost a quarter (23%) of threatened birds have been negatively impacted by climate change.
- At least 6 species of ungulate (hoofed mammals) would likely be extinct or surviving only in captivity today.
- Overall, around 40 percent of all known animal species are facing extinction, including beetles, flies, moths, butterflies and bees.
- On average global wildlife populations declined by 60% between 1970 and 2014.
- Wildlife populations are declining at a rate of 1% per year.
- The population size of freshwater species – living in lakes, rivers and wetlands – has declined by 83% since 1970.
- The most dramatic decline in species population was observed in the Neotropical realm, covering South America, Central America and the Caribbean, with an 89% loss compared to that in 1970.
- Since 1970, species population in the Indo-Pacific and the Afrotropics has declined by 64% and 56%, respectively.
- Since 1992, the biomass of flying insects in protected zones have reduced by more than 75%; the numbers of mammals, reptiles, amphibians, birds and fish reduced by 29%; and the amount of fresh water available per capita reduced by 26%.
- The extinction risk of birds, mammals and amphibians would have been at least 20% greater without conservation action in recent decade.
- The numbers of invasive alien species per country have risen by about 70% since 1970, across the 21 countries with detailed records.
- Aichi biodiversity targets for 2020 are most likely to be missed.
Biodiversity loss will significantly affect our human life and well-being, since food and energy are key to our health and survival. Both the IPBES report and the Living Planet Report 2018 warn that the window for safeguarding biodiversity and a healthy planet is closing rapidly. At present, our planet is at a crossroad. The next 10 years will be a key chance for action. The future will be bad for us if we don’t act now. In addition to various measures, it is important to control the rate of population growth.