According to the first IPBES report on biodiversity, one million animal and plant species could disappear within a few decades
Biodiversity is decreasing on our planet with a rate unprecedented in history. One million animal and plant species (one in eight) are at risk of extinction. The alarm comes from the intergovernmental group for biodiversity and ecosystem services (IPBES) which met in Paris, from 29 April to 4 May, to approve the first UN report on these issues.
The meeting in the French capital was only the culmination of the immense three-year work in which 145 experts from 50 nations examined 15,000 studies. The evaluation comes 15 years after the previous Millenium Ecosystem Assessment published in 2005.
The figures included in the report are impressive: 75% of terrestrial ecosystems and 66% of marine environments have already been significantly modified by human actions; more than 40% of amphibian species, 33% of corals and more than a third of all marine mammals are at risk of extinction. "The health of the ecosystems on which we and all other species depend on is deteriorating at a faster rate than ever," commented Robert Watson, IPBES president, "we are eroding the very foundations of our economies, our livelihoods, the food safety, health and quality of life throughout the world ".
For the first time the experts have also traced the ranking of the factors that most affect the global loss of biodiversity; At the top we find the changes in the use of land and sea due to human activities, then to follow the overexploitation of the animal or plant resources, climate change, pollution and invasive alien species.
In addition to mapping the global biodiversity conservation status, the IPBES report contains a list of integrated actions to be implemented to ensure more sustainable environmental policies and initiatives.
According to the authors, as regards agriculture, the proposed actions should provide incentives for good agricultural practices that ensure the conservation of the soil and species, such as organic farming or the agroecological approach. Regarding the aquatic environments, the experts recommend the reduction of water pollution, the recovery of the over-exploited fish stocks, the fight against harmful and illegal fishing practices. In urban areas, the report underlines the importance of maintaining ecological connectivity by building infrastructures and transport systems with low landscape impact, as well as increasing urban green spaces.
Oikos is aware of the need to protect biodiversity, for the future of both the planet and humans. This is why we have been taking care of terrestrial and aquatic habitats, plant and animal species that inhabit them for more than twenty years and promote the responsible use of natural resources. Fully sharing Robert Watson's wish:
«It is not too late to make a difference, but only if we start to act now at all levels, from the bottom level to the global scale. With radical changes, nature can still be preserved, recovered and used sustainably».