In 50 years, the world’s wildlife population has declined by two-thirds


World animal, bird and fish populations have drastically declined by more than two-thirds in less than 50 years due to rampant overconsumption. Experts are sounding the alarm and warning that you need to save nature in order to save yourself.

wildlife population

Human activity has led to serious degradation of three-quarters of all land and 40 percent of the world’s oceans. The accelerating destruction of nature is likely to have untold consequences for our health and livelihoods.

contraction of nature

The Living Planet Index, which tracks more than 4,000 species of vertebrates, warns that increasing deforestation and agricultural expansion were key factors leading to an average 68 percent decline in populations between 1970 and 2016.

It signals that continued natural habitat loss increases the risk of future pandemics as humans expand their presence and come into greater contact with wildlife. The Living Planet Report 2020, produced in collaboration between WWF International and the Zoological Society of London, is the 13th edition of a biennial publication that tracks wildlife populations around the world. In it, WWF Director General Marco Lambertini spoke to AFP about the rapid loss of the Earth’s biodiversity since the 1970s.

“We have been seeing this accelerating decline for 30 years, and it continues to go in the wrong direction,” he said. “In 2016, we recorded a 60% decline, now we have a 70% decline. All this happens in the blink of an eye compared to the millions of years that many species have lived on the planet,” added Lambertini.

Significant reduction in wildlife

The past half decade has seen unprecedented economic growth, underpinned by a sharp increase in global consumption of natural resources. Whereas prior to 1970 humanity’s Ecological Footprint was less than the Earth’s ability to regenerate resources, the World Wide Fund for Nature has now calculated that we have exhausted the planet’s capacity by more than half.


Although driven by factors such as invasive species and pollution, the main cause of species extinction is land use change, with industry converting forests or grasslands into farms. This causes enormous damage to wild species that lose their homes.

Enormous levels of resources are required to sustain this lifestyle: one-third of all land and three-quarters of all fresh water is now used for food production. The picture is no less dire in the ocean, where 75 percent of fish stocks are overexploited. The development of animal husbandry also brings problems due to methane emissions. As you know, cows pollute the atmosphere just like cars, releasing ozone-destroying gas.

And while wildlife is rapidly declining, species are disappearing faster in some places than in others. The index showed that since 1970 the number of species in the tropical regions of Central and South America has decreased by 94%.

From sadness to worry

Living Planet publishes a study co-authored by over 40 NGOs and academic institutions. It lays out ways to stop and reverse the losses caused by human consumption. A study published in the journal Nature suggests that reducing food waste and opting for healthier and more environmentally friendly diets could help “bend the curve” of degradation.


The authors suggested that, combined with radical conservation efforts, these measures could prevent more than two-thirds of future biodiversity loss. “We must act now. The pace of biodiversity recovery is generally much slower than the recent loss of biodiversity,” said study lead author David Leclerc, a research fellow at the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis.

“This means that any delay in action will result in further loss of biodiversity, which could take decades to recover.” Leclerc also warned about «irreversible» losses to nature in the process of extinction of species. In the public debate about climate change, societies are increasingly concerned about the link between the health of the planet and the well-being of people.

“People are sad because they have lost nature, they really start to worry,” he said. We still have a moral duty to coexist with life on the planet.»