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Declining Biodiversity Will Potentially Affect Billions of People

By: Lillian Duan

Biodiversity, or the variety of life in our habitats and ecosystems, is an essential process that supports all life on earth, including humans. Billions of individuals in developed and developing countries depend on wildlife for vital assets such as medicine, food, energy, recreation, and income. Without biodiversity keeping our environment healthy, the repercussions would jeopardize the health of many.

Unfortunately, this is currently the case. Unsustainable methods and overexploitation of wildlife have accelerated the global biodiversity crisis, with millions of plants and animals facing extinction.

A report by the IPBES has provided an analysis on the issue, offering insights and tools to establish more sustainable use of the plants, animals, fungi, and algae from around the world. This new report results from four years of work by 85 leading experts in the natural and social sciences, 200 contributing authors, and holders of indigenous and local knowledge.

The report identifies five leading ‘practices’ in wildlife use: Fishing, gathering, logging, terrestrial animal harvesting, and non-extractive use. Examination of the specific benefits and trends for each practice shows that in most cases, wildlife species use has increased while sustainability has not.

For example, poor enforcement and patchy regulation in the fishing industry have allowed fishers to evade the law and pursue higher catches. Unsustainable logging threatens the survival of an estimated 12% of wild trees and several plant groups, while unsustainable hunting has been identified as a threat to 1,341 wild mammal species.

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