WWF’s Living Planet Report reveals a devastating 69% drop in wildlife populations on average in less than a lifetime
● Freshwater species populations have suffered an 83% fall
● The report’s Living Planet Index shows that there is no time to lose in securing a nature-positive society
Suva, Fiji (14 October 2022) - Monitored wildlife populations* - mammals, birds, amphibians, reptiles and fish - have seen a devastating 69% drop on average since 1970, according to WWF’s Living Planet Report (LPR) 2022. The report highlights the stark outlook of the state of nature and urgently warns governments, businesses and the public to take transformative action to reverse the destruction of biodiversity.
With its biggest dataset yet, featuring almost 32,000 populations of 5,230 species, the Living Planet Index (LPI), provided within the report by ZSL (Zoological Society of London), shows it is within tropical regions that monitored vertebrate wildlife populations are plummeting at a particularly staggering rate. WWF is extremely concerned about this trend given that these geographical areas are some of the most biodiverse in the world. In particular the LPI data reveals that between 1970 and 2018, monitored wildlife populations in Latin America and the Caribbean region have dropped by 94% on average.
In less than a lifetime, monitored freshwater populations have fallen by an average of 83%, the largest decline of any species group. Habitat loss and barriers to migration routes are responsible for about half of the threats to monitored migratory fish species.
Commenting on the findings, Marco Lambertini, Director General of WWF International, said: “We face the double emergencies of human-induced climate change and biodiversity loss, threatening the well-being of current and future generations. WWF is extremely worried by this new data showing a devastating fall in wildlife populations, in particular in tropical regions that are home to some of the most biodiverse landscapes in the world.”
World leaders are due to meet at the 15th Conference of Parties to the Convention of Biological Diversity (CBD COP15) this December for a once-in-a-decade opportunity to course-correct for the sake of people and the planet. WWF is advocating for leaders to commit to a ‘Paris-style’ agreement capable of reversing biodiversity loss to secure a nature-positive world by 2030.
“At the COP15 biodiversity conference this December, leaders have an opportunity to reset our broken relationship with the natural world and deliver a healthier, more sustainable future for all with an ambitious nature-positive global biodiversity agreement,” said Dr Lambertini. “In the face of our escalating nature crisis, it’s essential this agreement delivers immediate action on the ground, including through a transformation of the sectors driving nature loss, and financial support to developing countries.”
Some of the species’ populations captured in the LPI include the Amazon pink river dolphin population, which saw populations plummet by 65% between 1994 and 2016 in the Mamirauá Sustainable Development Reserve in the Brazilian state of Amazonas; the eastern lowland gorilla, whose numbers saw an estimated 80% decline in DRC’s Kahuzi-Biega National Park between 1994 and 2019; and South and Western Australian sea lion pups, which plunged by two-thirds between 1977 and 2019.
Dr Andrew Terry, Director of Conservation and Policy at ZSL, said: “The Living Planet Index highlights how we have cut away the very foundation of life and the situation continues to worsen. Half of the global economy and billions of people are directly reliant on nature. Preventing further biodiversity loss and restoring vital ecosystems has to be at the top of global agendas to tackle the mounting climate, environmental and public health crises.”
Around the world, the report indicates that the main drivers of wildlife population decline are habitat degradation and loss, exploitation, the introduction of invasive species, pollution, climate change and disease. Several of these factors played a part in Africa’s 66% fall in its wildlife populations over the period, as well as Asia Pacific’s overall 55% drop.
The LPR report makes clear that delivering a nature-positive future will not be possible without recognising and respecting the rights, governance, and conservation leadership of Indigenous Peoples and local communities around the world.
Flor Delicia Ramos Barba said she has felt the loss of nature in the Indigenous community of Santo Corazon in Santa Cruz, Bolivia, where she lives. “The roar of the jaguar could be heard near the community three years ago, but not anymore. Compared with my childhood, I’ve witnessed a big difference. The animals in the community are now gone. We also feel this lack in the rivers. The people used to go fishing to support their families, but now there are no fish. Tree species have also been disappearing.
“As a community we have become aware of the difficulties that come our way year after year. The conservation of our territory is important to us.”
The report argues that increasing conservation and restoration efforts, producing and consuming food in particular more sustainably, and rapidly and deeply decarbonising all sectors can mitigate the twin crises. The authors call on policymakers to transform economies so that natural resources are properly valued.
“The Living Planet Report contains shocking figures directly related to our interlinked climate and biodiversity crises and in response we must see transformative systems change if we’re to halt and reverse nature loss and secure a flourishing future for people and nature,” said Dr Lambertini. “Government leaders must step up at COP15. The world is watching.”
For further information and interview requests, please contact:
Regional Head of Communications - WWF Pacific, Jone Tuiipelehaki Raqauqau, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org or WhatsApp: +679 9936 744.
- *The 2022 global Living Planet Index (LPI) shows an average 69% decline in monitored vertebrate wildlife populations. The percentage change in the index reflects the average proportional change in animal population sizes tracked over 48 years - not the number of individual animals lost nor the number of populations lost.
- The LPR 2022 is the 14th edition of WWF's biennial flagship publication.
- The full Living Planet Report 2022 and summary versions of the report are available here. At this link, you will also find B-roll footage and images.
- Please note that successive iterations of the LPI are not directly comparable as they contain different sets of species. It is also important to note that the 1970 baseline holds different significance for the various regions monitored. In Europe and North America, pressures had been impacting species and habitats for many decades prior to 1970 so while the declines in these regions are ostensibly not as steep, it does not mean biodiversity is more intact in these regions. In fact, the report’s Biodiversity Intactness Index shows that Europe is one of the regions that scores lowest for biodiversity intactness. Conversely, tropical regions would have started at a more intact baseline in 1970 but have since experienced more rapid changes to their ecosystems.
- The LPI is an early warning indicator on the health of nature. This year’s edition analyses almost 32,000 species populations - with more than 838 new species and just over 11,000 new populations added since the previous report came out in 2020. It provides the most comprehensive measure of how species are responding to pressures in their environment driven by biodiversity loss and climate change, also allowing us to understand the impact of people on biodiversity.
- The Fifteenth Conference of Parties to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (COP15) is scheduled to take place in Montreal, Canada, 7-19 December, under the Presidency of China.
WWF is an independent conservation organization, with over 30 million followers and a global network active in nearly 100 countries. Our mission is to stop the degradation of the planet's natural environment and to build a future in which people live in harmony with nature, by conserving the world's biological diversity, ensuring that the use of renewable natural resources is sustainable, and promoting the reduction of pollution and wasteful consumption. Visit panda.org/news for the latest news and media resources; follow us on Twitter @WWF_media
ZSL (Zoological Society of London) is an international conservation charity working to create a world where wildlife thrives. From investigating the health threats facing animals to helping people and wildlife live alongside each other, ZSL is committed to bringing wildlife back from the brink of extinction. Our work is realised through our ground-breaking science, our field conservation around the world and engaging millions of people through our two zoos, ZSL London Zoo and ZSL Whipsnade Zoo. For more information, visit www.zsl.org.