Every year the population of wild animals is shrinking by 2 percent. Since 1970 the number of animals in the world has decreased by more than half, according to a new report from WWF and the Zoological Society of London.
In their joint report, Living Planet, researchers warn that two-thirds of the global population of fish, birds, amphibians, reptiles and mammals will be gone by 2020. The report discusses the number of animals, not the number of species.
– But such a trend will lead to an increasing number of species being pushed to the brink of extinction. We will probably see that more species will disappear in our lifetime, says Secretary General Nina Jensen, WWF Norway to news agency NTB.
The researchers behind the report have followed the development of more than 14,000 stocks of nearly 4,000 species. The trend is clear, the number of animals is shrinking. This is largely due to human influence.
– It is due to land alteration and destruction of habitats, for example when you cut down forests or destroy coral reefs.
It is a matter of harvesting, hunting and illegal fishing, pollution and introduction of alien species.
Climate change as the fastest growing threat also reinforces all the other underlying trends, says Jensen.
Fresh water systems drained
The loss of diversity is greatest in lakes, rivers and wetlands according to the report. The stocks of fish and other animals in freshwater systems is reduced by 81 percent.
– This has to do with how water is used and taken out of freshwater systems. This is also becoming more fragmented by building dams, says research director Mike Barret, WWF.
The report estimates that the decline in the ocean has been 36 percent, while there are 38 percent fewer wild animals, birds and insects on land than in 1970.
Source: NTB scanpix / Norway Today