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Animals

Humans exploiting and destroying nature on unprecedented scale – report

Animal populations have plunged an average of 68% since 1970, as humanity pushes the planet’s life support systems to the edge

Wildlife populations are in freefall around the world, driven by human overconsumption, population growth and intensive agriculture, according to a major new assessment of the abundance of life on Earth.

On average, global populations of mammals, birds, fish, amphibians and reptiles plunged by 68% between 1970 and 2016, according to the WWF and Zoological Society of London (ZSL)’s biennial Living Planet Report 2020. Two years ago, the figure stood at 60%.

Biodiversity is the variety of life on Earth, in all its forms and all its interactions.  “Without biodiversity, there is no future for humanity,” says Prof David Macdonald, at Oxford University. It is comprised of several levels, starting with genes, then individual species, then communities of creatures and finally entire ecosystems, such as forests or coral reefs, where life interplays with the physical environment. 

Related: Up to 48 species saved from extinction by conservation efforts, study finds

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