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Over-exploitation and agriculture threaten biodiversity

The main drivers of biodiversity decline continue to be the over-exploitation of species, agriculture and land conversion – all driven by uncontrollable human consumption, the recently released Living Planet report 2018 states.

The report, published every two years, presents a comprehensive overview of the state of the natural world. Through various indicators, the report shows how human activity is pushing the planet’s natural systems that support life on earth to the edge.

Over-exploitation or agricultural activity or both were responsible for harming 75 percent of all the plant, amphibian, reptile, bird and mammal species that have gone extinct since AD 1500.

While climate change was found playing a growing role and is already beginning to have an effect on the ecosystem, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List data, over-exploitation and agriculture are the ‘big killers’ with the greatest current impact on biodiversity.

Over the past 50 years, the Ecological Footprint – a measure of the consumption of natural resources – has increased by about 190 percent.

The global population of vertebrate species has, on average, declined in size by 60 percent in just over 40 years.

While highlighting the extent and impact of human activity on nature, the report also focuses on the importance and value of nature to people’s health and wellbeing and that of societies and economies. The report estimates that globally nature provides services for humanity worth around USD 125 trillion a year.

Beyond over-exploitation and agriculture, invasive species are another frequent threat, their spread relying heavily on trade-related activities such as shipping.

Director General of WWF International Marco Lambertini said science is showing people the harsh reality that forests, oceans and rivers are enduring at their hands.

“Inch by inch and species by species, shrinking wildlife numbers and wild places are an indicator of the tremendous impact and pressure we are exerting on the planet, undermining the very living fabric that sustains us all: nature and biodiversity,” he said.

He said that nature has been silently sustaining and powering societies and economies for centuries and in return, the world has continued to take nature and its services for granted, failing to act against the accelerating loss of nature.

“It is time we realised that a healthy, sustainable future for all is only possible on a planet where nature thrives and forests, oceans and rivers are teeming with biodiversity and life,” said Lambertini.

He said there is an urgent need to rethink how humans use and value nature – culturally, economically and on our political agendas.

Agriculture minister Yeshey Penjor released the report Bhutan at the International Mahseer Conference in Paro on December 3.

Tshering Palden 

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