What are the major reasons why we are losing so much biodiversity?

So what's the problem?

Why are we losing so many species and swathes of land every single second?

Biodiversity has declined by more than a quarter in the last 35 years.

The Living Planet Index (LPI), which tracks nearly 4,000 populations of wildlife, shows an overall fall in population trends of 27% between 1970 and 2005.

That's not good news.

In general terms, population growth and our consumption are the reasons for this enormous loss. Specifically, habitat destruction and wildlife trade are the major causes of population decline in species.

We have...

  • picked,
  • logged,
  • plucked and
  • hunted 
the 
  • animals,
  • trees,
  • flowers and
  • fish 
for
  • medicine,
  • souvenirs,
  • status symbols,
  • building materials and
  • food.
And this over-exploitation (hunting, fishing, bycatch) is currently totally unsustainable.
 / ©: Vladimir Shumkin
Confiscated Siberian tiger skins.
© Vladimir Shumkin
 / ©: WWF-Canon / A. Christy WILLIAMS
Logging elephant habitat in Sabah
© WWF-Canon / A. Christy WILLIAMS
 / ©: WWF-Canon / Michel Gunther
Mediterranean bluefin tuna — highly prized around the world, especially in Japan for sushi and sashimi — has been under increasing pressure from overfishing. Display of frozen tunas to be auctioned at the Tsukiji fish market, Tokyo, Japan.
© WWF-Canon / Michel Gunther
Globally, we now require the equivalent of 1.4 planets to support our lifestyles. This is humanity’s current Ecological Footprint - the demand people place upon the natural world.
In 2009, humanity used 40% more resources than nature can regenerate in a year.

This problem - using resources faster than they can regenerate and creating waste such as CO2 faster than it can be absorbed - is called ecological overshoot.

We currently maintain this overshoot by liquidating the planet’s natural resources. We can cut trees faster than they re-grow, and catch fish at a rate faster than they repopulate. While this can be done for a short while, overshoot ultimately leads to the depletion of resources on which our economy depends.

Adding to the pressure is Climate Change - the full effects and impacts on Biodiversity and how life may (or may not) adapt is still very much an unknown quantity.

What we do know, however, is that the next 30 years are critical.

We also know that humans, and our behaviour, have changed the Earth's ecosystems more rapidly and extensively in the past 50 years than in any other period of human history.

All in all, the loss of biodiversity is, arguably, the greatest threat to world stability and security today.
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This shows trends in populations of terrestrial, marine, and freshwater vertebrate species. It declined by 29% from 1970 to 2003.
© WWF

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