Tropics in decline - WWF 2010 Living Planet report
New analysis shows populations of tropical species are plummeting and humanity's demands on natural resources are sky-rocketing to 50 per cent more than the earth can sustain, reveals the 2010 edition of WWF’s Living Planet Report — the leading survey of the planet’s health.
The biennial report, produced in collaboration with the Zoological Society of London and the Global Footprint Network, uses the global Living Planet Index as a measure of the health of almost 8,000 populations of more than 2,500 species. The global Index shows a decrease by 30 per cent since 1970, with the tropics hardest hit showing a 60 per cent decline in less than 40 years.
"There is an alarming rate of biodiversity loss in low-income, often tropical countries while the developed world is living in a false paradise, fuelled by excessive consumption and high carbon emissions," said Jim Leape, Director General of WWF International.
While the report shows some promising recovery by species’ populations in temperate areas, thanks in part to greater conservation efforts and improvements in pollution and waste control, tracked populations of freshwater tropical species have fallen by nearly 70 per cent — greater than any species’ decline measured on land or in our oceans.
"Species are the foundation of ecosystems," said Jonathan Baillie, Conservation Programme Director with the Zoological Society of London. "Healthy ecosystems form the basis of all we have — lose them and we destroy our life support system."
The Ecological Footprint, one of the indicators used in the report, shows that our demand on natural resources has doubled since 1966 and we’re using the equivalent of 1.5 planets to support our activities. If we continue living beyond the Earth’s limits, by 2030 we'll need the equivalent of two planets' productive capacity to meet our annual demands.
"The report shows that continuing of the current consumption trends would lead us to the point of no return," added Leape. "4.5 Earths would be required to support a global population living like an average resident of the of the US."
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