Graphics: Why should we protect our planet’s species now?
According to data from the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), more than 500 recorded species have been permanently abandoned over the past decade, causing a massive decline in global biodiversity.
Mammals and birds suffered the worst consequences. About 161 species of birds and 92 mammals have gone extinct. Fish, both marine and freshwater, are the third largest category with 63 species extinct on the planet.
About 28 arthropods – invertebrate animals with an exoskeleton, segmented body, and paired articulated appendages (known to pollinate crops, manage pest populations, and an important source of food for birds) have lost their chances of existence on the planet.
Additionally, there are 28 amphibians and 26 reptiles on the extinction list.
Surprisingly, over 100 plants have gone extinct, with 63 species of flowering plants and 14 lily families on the IUCN Red List.
About 80 percent of these lost species once lived in terrestrial habitats, including forests, savannas, grasslands, wetlands and deserts.
The cause behind the extinction of these animals and plants ranges from habitat loss, pollution, invasive species, climate change, genetic loss and infrastructure development.
The loss of global biodiversity is more serious. And the threat of extinction of 500 species over the past decade is just the tip of the iceberg. A landmark report by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) in 2020 estimated that more than one million animal and plant species will become extinct over the next few years due to human activities.
“The health of the ecosystems on which we depend, as well as all other species, is deteriorating faster than ever. We are eroding the very foundations of our economies, our livelihoods, our food security, our health and our quality of life around the world, ”said Sir Robert Watson, IPBES President, in a press release.
Experts have also linked the epidemic of viral diseases, food scarcity and poverty to loss of biodiversity. The United Nations, alarmed by the extent of damage to global biodiversity, launched global negotiations and also finalized targets for the revitalization of nature.
From nature-based solutions to climate, health issues, food and water security, and sustainable livelihoods, biodiversity is the foundation on which we can rebuild a better environment.
World leaders would meet in Kunming, southwest China, for the two-phase Conference of the Parties (COP 15), in October and again in April next year, to finalize new goals to revive the biodiversity. Participants are expected to develop concrete plans for the protection of global biodiversity post-2020.
Graphics: Key figures from the white paper on biodiversity conservation in China