The Living Planet Report 2022, prepared by the WWF (World Wildlife Fund) and the Zoological Society of London (ZSL), has been published. The 2022 issue of the biannual Living Planet series revealed that populations of vertebrate wild species decreased by 69 percent in a shorter than average human lifespan.
The Living Planet Index, which has been tracking the health of nature for nearly 50 years, acts as an early warning system that monitors mammal, amphibian, fish, reptile and bird populations around the world. The 2022 report, the most comprehensive finding to date, shows that there was a sharp 69 percent decline in the populations of monitored species worldwide between 1970 and 2018. On a regional basis, Latin America experienced the greatest decline with 94 percent, while the largest decline on a global scale was seen in species in freshwater habitats with 83%.
With 838 new species and 11,011 new populations added to the dataset since 2020, the Living Planet Index 2022 used the largest dataset to date. Data collected from approximately 32,000 populations of 5,230 species show that we are way behind in meeting the goals of the UN Decade on Biodiversity, in which broad-based action is planned to transform society’s relationship with nature.
Highlights from the report:
- We are experiencing both the climate crisis and the biodiversity crisis at the same time. These crises are two sides of the same coin, resulting from the unsustainable use of our planet’s resources. What is clear is that as long as we continue to treat these threats as two separate issues, we will not find an effective solution for any of them.
- Everything that makes us live comes from nature. Biodiversity is the totality of interactions between living things of all kinds, on land, in water, in the sea, and in the air, the diversity of life formed by genes, populations, species, and ecosystems. Land, freshwater and marine ecosystems, such as forests, grasslands, wetlands, mangrove swamps and oceans, provide services essential to human well-being such as food and feed, medicine, energy and fiber. These ecosystems include climate, natural hazards and extremes, air quality, quantity and quality of fresh water, pollination and seed dispersal, pests and diseases, soil, ocean
They regulate acidification and the formation and maintenance of habitats. These ecosystems also provide people with physical and psychological experiences, enable learning and inspiration, and support a sense of belonging and place.
- Deforestation threatens the world. Forests, which store more carbon than any of the world’s exploitable oil, gas and coal resources, absorb 7.6 Gigatons of CO₂ from the atmosphere each year between 2001 and 2019. This corresponds to about 18% of all anthropogenic carbon emissions. But every year we lose about 10 million hectares of forest, corresponding to an area the size of Portugal. Forests lost, especially in tropical regions, cause carbon emissions; resulting in hotter, drier local climates; It increases the duration and severity of droughts and fires, resulting in reduced precipitation and changing global precipitation patterns due to the size of the forest lost. For example, complete destruction of tropical forests in Central Africa or South America can increase average daytime temperatures by 7-8ºC and reduce precipitation in these regions by about 15%.
- Mangroves are the unique forests of the seas. Mangroves, which are important reservoirs of biodiversity, have an important place in the livelihood of coastal communities with the nutritional and heating opportunities they provide for people and cultural services such as economic, educational and spiritual values such as fishing and ecotourism. Mangroves are also an important source of “nature-based solutions” to climate change.
- Ocean sharks and rays are on the verge of extinction. Over the last 50 years, the global abundance of ocean-dwelling sharks and rays has decreased by 71% due to fishing pressure, which has increased 18 times since 1970.
Commenting on the report’s findings, WWF Global Director Marco Lambertini said: “We face two interconnected emergencies that threaten the well-being of present and future generations: climate change and biodiversity loss. World leaders who will meet at the long-awaited 15th Conference of the Parties (COP15) of the UN Convention on Biodiversity to be held in December 2022 have an opportunity to affect the future of the planet and humanity. WWF demands binding agreement from world leaders committing to reversing biodiversity losses and creating a “Nature Positive World” by 2030.”
Dr. Lambertini emphasized that this agreement should include steps to be taken quickly, including the rapid transformation of sectors that cause nature loss and financial support to developing countries: “Just as the global target of ‘net zero emissions by 2050’ led the energy sector to renewable energy sources, ‘2030 The goal of ‘positive nature up to now’ will change the agriculture, fisheries, forestry, infrastructure and mining sectors that cause nature loss and accelerate their transformation towards sustainable production and consumption.”
Aslı Pasinli: “The global economy and the livelihood of billions of people depend on nature”
Aslı Pasinli, General Manager of WWF-Turkey (World Wildlife Fund), underlined that the invalidity of the assumptions that we can use natural resources in a wasteful and unsustainable way without paying any price is now obvious. “The costs started to appear as loss of life and property due to extreme weather conditions, poverty and food security problems exacerbated by drought and floods, social disturbances, increasing waves of migration and zoonotic (animal origin) diseases. The loss of nature has ceased to be perceived as an ethical or ecological issue; it is interpreted in a broader sense and seen as a matter of justice, taking into account its vital importance for our economy, social stability, individual well-being and health. The world’s most vulnerable communities are most affected by environmental losses. The global economy and the livelihoods of billions of people depend on nature. In order to prevent climate, environmental and public health crises, preventing biodiversity losses and restoring vital ecosystems should become the most important items on the global agenda.
You can find the full report here.