In 2002, world leaders agreed to reduce the global rate of biodiversity loss by 2010. Sadly, a recent study found that "biodiversity is still being lost as fast as ever, and we have made little headway in reducing the pressures on species, habitats and ecosystems."
Researchers looked at 31 indicators of how species and ecosystems are changing. With global data covering the period 1970 to 2005. Covering plants and animals from land and sea.
Very few of the indicators gave any hint that biodiversity loss was decreasing at all.
Instead, the study found that "since 1970, we have reduced animal populations by 30%, the area of mangroves and sea grasses by 20% and the coverage of living corals by 40%".
It also found that the risk of a species going extinct has accelerated, and pressures on biodiversity have increased over recent decades.
Pressures on biodiversity include human consumption; alien species invasions; over-fishing, and impacts from climate change.
Although nations have put in place some significant policies to slow biodiversity declines, these have been woefully inadequate, and the gap between the pressures on biodiversity and the responses is getting ever wider. While about 12% of land is now under some kind of protection, not all of it is effectively managed. Less than 1% of the world's oceans is protected.
"These losses are clearly unsustainable, since biodiversity makes a key contribution to human well-being and sustainable development".
"We can no longer use the excuse that we don't know enough about the loss of diversity of life on our planet," says the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
"The role of governments is paramount; but the magnitude and rate of loss of biodiversity means that everyone, from individuals to businesses, must act now to save all life on Earth before we reach breaking point."
Governments will review their failure to meet the 2010 target, and probably set new ones, at the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) summit in Nagoya, Japan, in October.
New targets are likely to be directed at stemming the threats to biodiversity, such as unsustainable agriculture, pollution and the growing scale of cities and transport networks.
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See also World needs 'bailout plan' for species loss: IUCN Yahoo News 6 May 10;
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