WWF’s Living Planet Report reveals a devastating 69% drop globally in wildlife populations on average in less than a lifetime

Posted on 13 October 2022

The report’s Living Planet Index shows that there is no time to lose in securing a nature-positive society

Bangkok, Thailand (13 October, 2022) - Monitored wildlife populations* - mammals, birds, amphibians, reptiles and fish - have seen a devastating 69% drop globally on average since 1970, according to WWF’s Living Planet Report (LPR) 2022. The report highlights the stark outlook of the state of nature and urgently warns governments, businesses and the public to take transformative action to reverse the destruction of biodiversity.

With its biggest dataset yet, featuring almost 32,000 populations of 5,230 species, the Living Planet Index (LPI), provided within the report by ZSL (Zoological Society of London), shows it is within tropical regions that monitored vertebrate wildlife populations are plummeting at a particularly staggering rate. WWF is extremely concerned about this trend given that these geographical areas are some of the most biodiverse in the world. In particular the LPI data reveals that between 1970 and 2018, monitored wildlife populations in Asia Pacific dropped by 55% on average. A 66% drop occurred in Africa, and Latin America and the Caribbean dropped by 94%, over the same period.

Around the world, the report indicates that the main drivers of wildlife population decline are habitat degradation and loss, exploitation, the introduction of invasive species, pollution, climate change and disease. The LPR report makes clear that delivering a nature-positive future will not be possible without recognising and respecting the rights, governance, and conservation leadership of Indigenous Peoples and local communities around the world.

Commenting on the findings, Marco Lambertini, Director General of WWF International, said: “We face the double emergencies of human-induced climate change and biodiversity loss, threatening the well-being of current and future generations. WWF is extremely worried by this new data showing a devastating fall in wildlife populations, in particular in tropical regions that are home to some of the most biodiverse landscapes in the world.”

Lan Mercado, Regional Director, WWF-Asia Pacific said: “Asia-Pacific holds many of the world's most biodiverse ecosystems, while also being home to many of the most climate-vulnerable communities who are critical in safeguarding this biodiversity. To urgently mitigate and adapt to future climate risks, world leaders must ensure the participation, inclusion and full ownership of the climate agenda by women, Indigenous Peoples, local communities, youth and other underrepresented groups. At the same time, addressing global climate inequality and channeling much-needed climate financing across the region must form a core part of any future biodiversity loss or climate crisis related agenda. Delayed action is not an option.”

 

In less than a lifetime, monitored freshwater populations have fallen by an average of xx%, the largest decline of any species group. Habitat loss and barriers to migration routes are responsible for about half of the threats to monitored migratory fish species.

World leaders are due to meet at the 15th Conference of Parties to the Convention of Biological Diversity (CBD COP15) this December for a once-in-a-decade opportunity to course-correct for the sake of people and the planet. WWF is advocating for leaders to commit to a ‘Paris-style’ agreement capable of reversing biodiversity loss to secure a nature-positive world by 2030.

“At the COP15 biodiversity conference this December, leaders have an opportunity to reset our broken relationship with the natural world and deliver a healthier, more sustainable future for all with an ambitious nature-positive global biodiversity agreement,” said Dr Lambertini. “In the face of our escalating nature crisis, it’s essential this agreement delivers immediate action on the ground, including through a transformation of the sectors driving nature loss, and financial support to developing countries.

Some of the species populations captured in the LPI include the Amazon pink river dolphin population, which saw populations plummet by 65% between 1994 and 2016 in the Mamirauá Sustainable Development Reserve in the Brazilian state of Amazonas; the eastern lowland gorilla, whose numbers saw an estimated 80% decline in DRC’s Kahuzi-Biega National Park between 1994 and 2019; and populations of the Australian sea lion, which declined by 64% between 1977 and 2019. 

Dr Andrew Terry, Director of Conservation and Policy at ZSL, said: “The Living Planet Index highlights how we have cut away the very foundation of life and the situation continues to worsen. Half of the global economy and billions of people are directly reliant on nature. Preventing further biodiversity loss and restoring vital ecosystems has to be at the top of global agendas to tackle the mounting climate, environmental and public health crises.”

The report argues that increasing conservation and restoration efforts, producing and consuming food in particular more sustainably, and rapidly and deeply decarbonising all sectors can mitigate the twin crises. The authors call on policymakers to transform economies so that natural resources are properly valued.

“The Living Planet Report contains shocking figures directly related to our interlinked climate and biodiversity crises and in response we must see transformative systems change if we’re to halt and reverse nature loss and secure a flourishing future for people and nature,” said Dr Lambertini. “Government leaders must step up at COP15. The world is watching.”
 

For further information and interview requests, please contact:
WWF International media team | news@wwfint.org

Charlotte Raynsford | ZSL Press Officer (Science, Conservation & Policy) | charlotte.raynsford@zsl.org
 

WWF
WWF is an independent conservation organization, with over 30 million followers and a global network active in nearly 100 countries. Our mission is to stop the degradation of the planet's natural environment and to build a future in which people live in harmony with nature, by conserving the world's biological diversity, ensuring that the use of renewable natural resources is sustainable, and promoting the reduction of pollution and wasteful consumption. Visit panda.org/news for the latest news and media resources; follow us on Twitter @WWF_media

 

ZSL

ZSL (Zoological Society of London) is an international conservation charity working to create a world where wildlife thrives. From investigating the health threats facing animals to helping people and wildlife live alongside each other, ZSL is committed to bringing wildlife back from the brink of extinction. Our work is realised through our ground-breaking science, our field conservation around the world and engaging millions of people through our two zoos, ZSL London Zoo and ZSL Whipsnade Zoo. For more information, visit www.zsl.org.