Living Planet Report 2008

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Living Planet Report 2008

  1. 1. LIVING PLANET REPORT 2008
  2. 2. CONTENTS Foreword 1 WWF EDITOR IN CHIEF WWF INTERNATIONAL (also known as World Wildlife Chris Hails Avenue du Mont-Blanc Fund in the USA and Canada) is CH-1196 Gland INTRODUCTION 2 one of the world’s largest and EDITORS Switzerland Biodiversity, ecosystem services, humanity’s most experienced independent Sarah Humphrey www.panda.org conservation organizations, with Jonathan Loh footprint 4 almost 5 million supporters and Steven Goldfinger INSTITUTE OF ZOOLOGY a global network active in over Zoological Society of London 100 countries. WWF’s mission is CONTRIBUTORS Regent’s Park EVIDENCE 6 to stop the degradation of the WWF London NW1 4RY, UK Global Living Planet Index 6 planet’s natural environment and Sarah Humphrey www.zoo.cam.ac.uk/ioz/projects/ Systems and biomes 8 to build a future in which humans Ashok Chapagain indicators_livingplanet.htm live in harmony with nature. Greg Bourne Biogeographic realms 10 GLOBAL FOOTPRINT NETWORK Richard Mott Taxa 12 Judy Oglethorpe 312 Clay Street, Suite 300 Ecological Footprint of nations 14 ZOOLOGICAL SOCIETY Aimee Gonzales Oakland, California 94607 OF LONDON Martin Atkin USA Biocapacity 16 Founded in 1826, the Zoological www.footprintnetwork.org Water footprint of consumption 18 Society of London (ZSL) is ZSL an international scientific, Jonathan Loh TWENTE WATER CENTRE Water footprint of production 20 Ben Collen conservation and educational University of Twente organization. Its mission is to Louise McRae 7500 AE Enschede achieve and promote the Tharsila T. Carranza The Netherlands TURNING THE TIDE 22 worldwide conservation of Fiona A. Pamplin www.water.utwente.nl Towards sustainability 22 animals and their habitats. Rajan Amin The energy challenge 24 ZSL runs ZSL London Zoo Jonathan E.M. Baillie and ZSL Whipsnade Zoo, Population and consumption 26 GFN carries out scientific research Global trade 28 in the Institute of Zoology and Steven Goldfinger is actively involved in field Mathis Wackernagel Managing biocapacity: An ecosystem approach 30 Meredith Stechbart conservation worldwide. Sarah Rizk Anders Reed DATA AND TABLES 32 Justin Kitzes GLOBAL FOOTPRINT The Ecological Footprint, biocapacity and Audrey Peller NETWORK water footprint 32 Shiva Niazi promotes a sustainable economy Brad Ewing The Living Planet Index, Ecological Footprint, by advancing the Ecological Alessandro Galli Footprint, a tool that makes biocapacity and water footprint through time 40 Yoshihiko Wada sustainability measurable. Dan Moran The Living Planet Index: Numbers of species 40 Together with its partners, the Robert Williams network coordinates research, Living Planet Index: Technical notes 41 Willy De Backer develops methodological Ecological Footprint: Frequently asked questions 42 standards, and provides decision TWENTE makers with robust resource Arjen Y. Hoekstra accounts to help the human Mesfin Mekonnen References and further reading 44 economy operate within the Acknowledgements 45 Earth’s ecological limits.
  3. 3. FOREWORD he recent downturn in the global economy is a stark T surging demand for food, feed and biofuels, and, in some demand for global energy services in 2050 while achieving reminder of the consequences of living beyond our places, dwindling water supplies. For the first time in recorded significant reductions in global greenhouse gas emissions. means. But the possibility of financial recession pales in history, this past summer the Arctic ice cap was surrounded by Crucially, this model highlights the need to take immediate comparison to the looming ecological credit crunch. open water – literally disappearing under the impact of our action to curb dangerous climate change. carbon footprint. Whether we live on the edge of the forest or in the heart of the As we act to reduce our footprint – our impact on the Earth’s city, our livelihoods and indeed our lives depend on the services The ecological credit crunch is a global challenge. The Living services – we must also get better at managing the ecosystems provided by the Earth’s natural systems. The Living Planet Planet Report 2008 tells us that more than three quarters of that provide those services. Success requires that we manage Report 2008 tells us that we are consuming the resources that the world’s people live in nations that are ecological debtors resources on nature’s terms and at nature’s scale. This means underpin those services much too fast – faster than they can be – their national consumption has outstripped their country’s that decisions in each sector, such as agriculture or fisheries, replenished. Just as reckless spending is causing recession, so biocapacity. Thus, most of us are propping up our current must be taken with an eye to broader ecological consequences. reckless consumption is depleting the world’s natural capital to lifestyles, and our economic growth, by drawing (and It also means that we must find ways to manage across our own a point where we are endangering our future prosperity. The increasingly overdrawing) upon the ecological capital of other boundaries – across property lines and political borders – to Living Planet Index shows that over the past 35 years alone the parts of the world. take care of the ecosystem as a whole. Earth’s wildlife populations have declined by a third. The good news is that we have the means to reverse the It is nearly four decades since the Apollo 8 astronauts Yet our demands continue to escalate, driven by the relentless ecological credit crunch – it is not too late to prevent an photographed the famous “Earth Rise”, providing the first ever growth in human population and in individual consumption. irreversible ecological recession setting in. This report identifies view of Planet Earth. In the two generations since, the world Our global footprint now exceeds the world’s capacity to the key areas where we need to transform our lifestyles and has moved from ecological credit to ecological deficit. The regenerate by about 30 per cent. If our demands on the planet economies to put us on a more sustainable trajectory. human species has a remarkable track record of ingenuity and continue at the same rate, by the mid-2030s we will need the problem solving. The same spirit that took man to the moon equivalent of two planets to maintain our lifestyles. And The scale of the challenge at times seems overwhelming, which must now be harnessed to free future generations from crippling this year’s report captures, for the first time, the impact of is why we have introduced the concept of “sustainability ecological debt. our consumption on the Earth’s water resources and our wedges” to tackle ecological overshoot across different sectors vulnerability to water scarcity in many areas. and drivers. This wedge analysis enables us to break down the various contributing factors of overshoot and propose different These overall trends have very concrete consequences, and solutions for each. For the single most important challenge, the we have seen them this year in daily headlines. Global prices WWF Climate Solutions Model uses a wedge analysis to James P. Leape for many crops have hit record highs, in large part due to illustrate how it is possible to meet the projected growth in Director-General, WWF International LIVING PLANET REPORT 2008 1
  4. 4. INTRODUCTION We have only one planet. Its capacity biodiversity, as measured by populations of exceeds the planet’s regenerative capacity both geographically and through time. to support a thriving diversity of species, 1,686 vertebrate species across all regions by about 30 per cent (Figure 2). This global Around 50 countries are currently facing humans included, is large but fundamentally of the world, has declined by nearly 30 per overshoot is growing and, as a consequence, moderate or severe water stress and the limited. When human demand on this cent over just the past 35 years (Figure 1). ecosystems are being run down and waste number of people suffering from year-round capacity exceeds what is available – For the first time in this report, the volume of is accumulating in the air, land and water. or seasonal water shortages is expected to when we surpass ecological limits – we data in the Living Planet Index has allowed The resulting deforestation, water shortages, increase as a result of climate change. This erode the health of the Earth’s living species population trends to be analysed by declining biodiversity and climate change are has profound implications for ecosystem systems. Ultimately, this loss threatens biogeographic realm and taxonomic group putting the well-being and development of health, food production and human human well-being. as well as by biome. While biodiversity loss all nations at increasing risk. well-being. This report uses complementary has levelled off in some temperate areas, the Water shortages are of growing concern Humanity’s demand on the planet has measures to explore the changing state overall Living Planet Index continues to show in many countries and regions. Therefore, more than doubled over the past 45 years as of global biodiversity and of human a decline. It appears increasingly unlikely this report includes a third measure, the a result of population growth and increasing consumption. The Living Planet Index that even the modest goal of the Convention water footprint, which captures the demand individual consumption. In 1961, almost all reflects the state of the planet’s ecosystems on Biological Diversity, to reduce by 2010 placed on national, regional or global water countries in the world had more than enough while the Ecological Footprint shows the the rate at which global biodiversity is being resources as a result of consumption of capacity to meet their own demand; by 2005, extent and type of human demand being lost, will be met. goods and services. Although water is not the situation had changed radically, with placed on these systems. Humanity’s demand on the planet’s living considered a scarce resource globally, its many countries able to meet their needs only The Living Planet Index of global resources, its Ecological Footprint, now distribution and availability are very uneven, by importing resources from other nations Fig. 1: LIVING PLANET INDEX, 1970–2005 Fig. 2: HUMANITY’S ECOLOGICAL FOOTPRINT, 1961-2005 1.8 1.8 1.6 1.6 1.4 1.4 Number of planet Earths 1.2 1.2 Index (1970=1.0) World biocapacity 1.0 1.0 0.8 0.8 0.6 0.6 0.4 0.4 0.2 0.2 0 0 1960 1970 1980 1990 2000 05 1960 1970 1980 1990 2000 05 2 LIVING PLANET REPORT 2008
  5. 5. and by using the global atmosphere as a report uses a “wedge” approach to illustrate The Ecological Footprint – representing Figure 1: Living Planet Index. The global INTRODUCTION dumping ground for carbon dioxide and how moving to clean energy generation and human demand on nature – and the Living index shows that vertebrate species other greenhouse gases (Figure 3). In an efficiency based on current technologies Planet Index – measuring nature’s overall populations declined by nearly 30 per cent overexploited world, ecological debtor could allow us to meet the projected 2050 health – serve as clear and robust guideposts during the period 1970 to 2005. nations are particularly at risk from local and demand for energy services with major to what needs to be done. If humanity has global overshoot, and from the associated reductions in associated carbon emissions. the will, it has the way to live within the Figure 2: Humanity’s Ecological Footprint. decline in ecosystem services, the life Technology transfer and support for means of the planet, while securing human Human demand on the biosphere more than support system on which humanity depends. local innovation can help emerging well-being and the ecosystems on which doubled during the period 1961 to 2005. If we continue with business as usual, by economies maximize their well-being while this depends. the early 2030s we will need two planets leapfrogging resource-intensive phases of Figure 3: Ecological debtor and creditor to keep up with humanity’s demand for industrialization. Cities, which now house countries. Debtor countries have an goods and services. But there are many more than half the human population, can Ecological Footprint greater than their effective ways to change course. While be designed to support desirable lifestyles own biocapacity; creditor countries have technological developments will continue to while simultaneously minimizing demand an Ecological Footprint smaller than their play an important role in addressing the on both local and global ecosystems. own biocapacity. sustainability challenge, much of what needs Empowerment of women, education and to be done is already known, and solutions access to voluntary family planning can are available today. As an example, this slow or even reverse population growth. Fig. 3: ECOLOGICAL DEBTOR AND Eco-debt: Footprint relative to biocapacity more than 150% greater 100-150% greater 50-100% greater 0-50%greater Insufficient data CREDITOR COUNTRIES, 1961 and 2005 Eco-credit: Biocapacity relative to footprint 0-50%greater 50-100% greater 100-150% greater more than 150% greater 1961 2005 (2005 country boundaries) LIVING PLANET REPORT 2008 3
  6. 6. B I O D I V E R S I T Y, E C O S Y S T E M S E R V I C E S , H U M A N I T Y ’ S F O O T P R I N T The Living Planet Index shows that wild capacity of the population. It has been the impacts are difficult to predict at local scales, production of food, freshwater, materials species and natural ecosystems are under dominant threat to marine biodiversity, and but any ecosystem may be susceptible to or fuel pressure across all biomes and regions of overfishing has devastated many commercial changing temperature or weather patterns. ■ regulating services including climate and the world. The direct, anthropogenic threats fish stocks. However, overexploitation is also Clearly, all of these threats or pressures flood regulation, water purification, to biodiversity are often grouped under five a serious threat to many terrestrial species, are the effect of more distant, indirect drivers. pollination and pest control headings: particularly tropical forest mammals hunted These drivers of biodiversity loss stem from ■ cultural (including aesthetic, spiritual, ■ habitat loss, fragmentation or change, for meat. Overharvesting of timber and the human demands for food, water, energy educational and recreational) services. especially due to agriculture fuelwood has also led to loss of forests and and materials. They can be considered in ■ overexploitation of species, especially their associated plant and animal populations. terms of the production and consumption of Each of these services derives ultimately due to fishing and hunting Invasive species, introduced either agricultural crops, meat and dairy products, from living organisms. However, it is not ■ pollution deliberately or inadvertently to one part fish and seafood, timber and paper, water, biodiversity per se that underpins ecosystem ■ the spread of invasive species or genes of the world from another, and which energy, transport and land for towns, cities services, but the abundance of particular ■ climate change. become competitors, predators or and infrastructure. As the world population species that are critical in maintaining habitat parasites of indigenous species, are and economy grow, so do the pressures on stability and providing those services. Decline All five of these threats stem ultimately responsible for declines in many native biodiversity. As technology and resource in a critical species at a local scale will have from human demands on the biosphere – species populations. This is especially efficiency improve, so the pressure could an adverse impact on ecosystem services, the production and consumption of natural important on islands and in freshwater be alleviated. The Ecological Footprint is even if that species is not threatened globally. resources for food and drink, energy or ecosystems, where they are thought to be an aggregate measure of the demands that The MA reported that biodiversity loss materials, and the disposal of associated the main threat to endemic species. resource consumption places on ecosystems contributes to food and energy insecurity, waste products – or the displacement of Pollution is another important cause and species. Understanding the interactions increased vulnerability to natural disasters natural ecosystems by towns, cities and of biodiversity loss, particularly in aquatic between biodiversity, the drivers of such as floods or tropical storms, poorer infrastructure (see Figure 4). Further, the ecosystems. Excess nutrient loading as a biodiversity loss and humanity’s footprint health, reduced availability and quality of massive flows of goods and people around result of the increasing use of nitrogen is fundamental to slowing, halting and water, and the erosion of cultural heritage. the world have become a vector for the and phosphorous fertilizers in agriculture reversing the ongoing declines in natural Most supporting, regulating and cultural spread of alien species and diseases. causes eutrophication and oxygen depletion. ecosystems and populations of wild species. ecosystem services are not bought and Natural habitat is lost, altered or Toxic chemical pollution often arises from sold commercially, so have no market value. fragmented through its conversion for pesticide use in farming or aquaculture, ECOSYSTEM SERVICES Their decline sends no warning signal to the cultivation, grazing, aquaculture, and from industry and from mining wastes. The Humanity depends on healthy ecosystems: local or global economy. Markets lead to industrial or urban use. River systems increasing carbon dioxide concentration in they support or improve our quality of life, decisions about resource use that maximize are dammed and altered for irrigation, the atmosphere is causing acidification of the and without them, the Earth would be benefits to individual producers and hydropower or flow regulation. Even oceans, which is likely to have widespread uninhabitable. The Millennium Ecosystem consumers, but often undermine the marine ecosystems, particularly the seabed, effects, particularly on shell- and reef- Assessment (MA) describes four categories biodiversity and ecosystem services on are physically degraded by trawling, building organisms. of ecosystem services, starting with the which the production and consumption construction and extractive industries. Potentially the greatest threat to most fundamental: ultimately depend. The value of biodiversity Overexploitation of wild species biodiversity over the coming decades is ■ supporting services such as nutrient to human well-being, while not readily populations is the result of harvesting or climate change. Early impacts have been felt cycling, soil formation and primary quantifiable in monetary terms, could be the killing animals or plants for food, materials in polar and montane as well as coastal and production difference between a planet that can support or medicine, at a rate above the reproductive marine ecosystems, such as coral reefs. Future ■ provisioning services such as the its human population and one which cannot. 4 LIVING PLANET REPORT 2008
  7. 7. Fig. 4: BIODIVERSITY LOSS, HUMAN PRESSURE AND THE ECOLOGICAL FOOTPRINT, cause-and-effect relationships INTRODUCTION ECOLOGICAL FOOTPRINT/ INDIRECT DRIVERS OF BIODIVERSITY THREATS CONSUMPTION SECTORS LOSS/HUMAN ACTIVITIES DIRECT PRESSURES ON BIODIVERSITY or PRESSURES Timber, paper and fibre Timber, pulp and paper production Forest, woodland and mangrove loss and Fuelwood Fuelwood collection fragmentation Food crops, oil crops, Conversion to cropland Grassland and savannah loss and degradation fibre crops Conversion to grazing land Conversion to aquaculture HABITAT LOSS Meat, dairy, eggs, skins River fragmentation and regulation Farmed fish and seafood Conversion to urban land and Coral reef and coastal habitat destruction Construction, cement road building Dam building Benthic habitat destruction Mining and metals Net fishing (including trawling) Overfishing Wild meat, fish and Line fishing Bycatch OVEREXPLOITATION seafood Bushmeat hunting Overharvesting terrestrial and aquatic species Wildlife trade Nutrient loading/eutrophication and toxic blooms Nitrogen and sulphur emissions Acid rain Domestic water Organic waste POLLUTION Industrial processing Agrochemical use Pesticides and toxic chemicals Mining waste and contamination Oil spills Ocean acidification Marine invasive species Shipping Transport INVASIVE ALIEN Trade Freshwater invasive species SPECIES Deliberate or inadvertent Tourism introduction of alien species Terrestrial invasive species, esp. on small islands Degradation of arctic and alpine environments Loss of polar sea ice Energy use Carbon dioxide, methane and Coral reef bleaching and die-off CLIMATE Fossil fuel combustion other greenhouse gas emissions CHANGE Alteration of seasonal cycles Drought-induced forest die-off and desertification Loss of seasonal wetlands LIVING PLANET REPORT 2008 5
  8. 8. LIVING PLANET INDEX: GLOBAL The Living Planet Index is an indicator temperate indices, the overall trends in little overall change over the same period from 1970 to 2005 in 4,642 populations of designed to monitor the state of the world’s terrestrial, freshwater and marine species (Figures 6 and 7). 1,686 species*. Temperate and tropical biodiversity. Specifically, it tracks trends in a are also each given equal weight. This marked contrast in trends between average trends were given equal weight. large number of populations of species in The tropical index consists of terrestrial temperate and tropical populations is much the same way that a stock market index and freshwater species populations found in apparent in terrestrial, freshwater and marine Figure 6: Temperate Living Planet Index. tracks the value of a set of shares or a retail the Afrotropical, Indo-Pacific and Neotropical species. It does not necessarily imply, The index shows a +6 per cent average trend price index tracks the cost of a basket of realms as well as marine species populations however, that tropical biodiversity is in a far between 1970 and 2005 in 3,309 populations consumer goods. The Living Planet Index is from the zone between the Tropics of Cancer worse state than temperate biodiversity. If of 1,235 species*. Terrestrial, freshwater and based on trends in nearly 5,000 populations and Capricorn. the index were to extend back centuries marine species’ average trends were given of 1,686 species of mammal, bird, reptile, The temperate index includes terrestrial rather than decades, it might well show a equal weight. amphibian and fish from around the globe. and freshwater species populations from the decline of equal or greater magnitude among The changes in the population of each species Palearctic and Nearctic realms as well as temperate species populations. Whether or Figure 7: Tropical Living Planet Index. are then averaged and shown relative to 1970, marine species populations north or south of not this is the case, the index shows that The index shows a -51 per cent overall trend which is given a value of 1.0. the tropics (see Figure 8). there is a severe and ongoing loss of from 1970 to 2005 in 1,333 populations of The global Living Planet Index is the The global index shows an overall decline biodiversity in tropical ecosystems. 585 species*. Terrestrial, freshwater and aggregate of two indices – temperate (which from 1970 to 2005 of nearly 30 per cent marine species’ average trends were given includes polar) and tropical – each of which (Figure 5). The tropical index fell by about Figure 5: Global Living Planet Index. equal weight. is given equal weight. In the tropical and 50 per cent while the temperate index showed This shows an average trend of -28 per cent * Note: Some species occur in temperate and tropical regions. Fig. 5: GLOBAL LIVING PLANET INDEX, Fig. 6: TEMPERATE LIVING PLANET INDEX, Fig. 7: TROPICAL LIVING PLANET INDEX, 1970–2005 1970–2005 1970–2005 1.8 1.8 1.8 1.6 1.6 1.6 1.4 1.4 1.4 1.2 1.2 1.2 Index (1970=1.0) Index (1970=1.0) Index (1970=1.0) 1.0 1.0 1.0 0.8 0.8 0.8 0.6 0.6 0.6 Global index Temperate index Tropical index 0.4 0.4 0.4 Confidence limits Confidence limits Confidence limits 0.2 0.2 0.2 0 0 0 1970 1980 1990 2000 05 1970 1980 1990 2000 05 1970 1980 1990 2000 05 6 LIVING PLANET REPORT 2008
  9. 9. Palearctic Nearctic Tropic of Cancer Oceanic EVIDENCE Oceanic Indomalayan Tropic of Capricorn Neotropical Afrotropical Australasian Antarctic Fig. 8: TERRESTRIAL BIOGEOGRAPHIC REALMS AND BIOMES Tropical and subtropical moist broadleaf forests Flooded grasslands and savannahs Tropical and subtropical dry broadleaf forests Montane grasslands and shrublands Tropical and subtropical coniferous forests Tundra Temperate broadleaf and mixed forests Mediterranean forests, woodlands and scrub Temperate coniferous forests Deserts and xeric shrublands Boreal forests/taiga Mangroves Tropical and subtropical grasslands, savannahs and shrublands Water bodies Temperate grasslands, savannahs and shrublands Rock and ice LIVING PLANET REPORT 2008 7
  10. 10. LIVING PLANET INDEX: SYSTEMS AND BIOMES The terrestrial, freshwater and marine The marine index shows an average example, decline in coral abundance Figure 9: Terrestrial Living Planet Index. indices are each calculated as the average overall decline of 14 per cent between due to bleaching and disease, driven by This index shows an average -33 per cent of two indices which separately measure 1970 and 2005 (Figure 10). Rising sea increasing sea surface temperatures, is of trend between 1970 and 2005 in 2,007 trends in tropical and temperate vertebrate temperatures, destructive fishing methods growing concern. populations of 887 terrestrial species. populations. and pollution are responsible for some of the Inland waters are home to an enormous The terrestrial index has declined decline in marine life. A recent study shows diversity of species and also provide Figure 10: Marine Living Planet Index. consistently since the mid-1970s (Figure 9), that 40 per cent of the world’s oceans are resources and ecological services that are The marine species index shows an and shows an average 33 per cent decline in severely affected by human activities. essential to human well-being. The average -14 per cent trend over 35 years in terrestrial vertebrate populations between Overfishing is the major driver of freshwater index shows that populations 1,175 populations of 341 marine species. 1970 and 2005. Most of this change took this change, with most of the world’s of species in inland waters decreased on place in the tropics; there was little overall commercial marine fisheries believed to be average by 35 per cent from 1970 to 2005 Figure 11: Freshwater Living Planet Index. change in species populations in temperate fully exploited or overexploited. Oceans (Figure 11). It is estimated that wetland areas The freshwater index shows an average regions. In the tropics, a combination of provide vital resources and ecosystem decreased in extent by 50 per cent during the -35 per cent trend from 1970 to 2005 in deforestation and other habitat destruction, services upon which all life depends; 20th century as a result of a number of 1,463 populations of 458 species. driven by agricultural conversion and however, marine protected areas currently different threats. Loss and degradation of overexploitation from logging and hunting, cover less than 1 per cent of the world’s seas. wetlands is caused by overfishing, invasive are among the major causes of species Recent assessments show that population species, pollution, creation of dams and population declines. declines extend beyond vertebrates. For water diversion. Fig. 9: TERRESTRIAL LIVING PLANET INDEX, Fig. 10: MARINE LIVING PLANET INDEX, Fig. 11: FRESHWATER LIVING PLANET INDEX, 1970–2005 1970–2005 1970–2005 1.8 1.8 1.8 1.6 1.6 1.6 1.4 1.4 1.4 1.2 1.2 1.2 Index (1970=1.0) Index (1970=1.0) Index (1970=1.0) 1.0 1.0 1.0 0.8 0.8 0.8 0.6 0.6 0.6 Terrestrial index Marine index Freshwater index 0.4 0.4 0.4 Confidence limits Confidence limits Confidence limits 0.2 0.2 0.2 0 0 0 1970 1980 1990 2000 05 1970 1980 1990 2000 05 1970 1980 1990 2000 05 8 LIVING PLANET REPORT 2008
  11. 11. The indices below highlight species 2000 to 2005. This is reflected in the tropical of biodiversity. An estimated 20 per cent of balance of influences which can be easily population declines in three groups of biomes forest index, which reveals a decline of dryland areas now suffer soil degradation. disrupted, leading to the acceleration of that are subject to intense local and global more than 60 per cent in animal populations Grasslands, found on all continents other processes such as desertification. pressures. If degradation continues at current (Figure 12). than Antarctica, have declined in quality and rates, the loss of ecosystem services such as Species populations in dryland systems extent over past decades with high rates of Figure 12: Tropical Forest Living Planet water purification and climate regulation will have declined by about 44 per cent since 1970 conversion to agriculture. Humans are reliant Index. The index shows an average -62 per have serious repercussions for both human (Figure 13). Drylands make up more than on grasslands both directly for food and cent trend between 1970 and 2005 in 503 well-being and biodiversity. 40 per cent of the Earth’s terrestrial system, indirectly through ecosystem services such populations of 186 species. Tropical forests support a wide diversity including such diverse ecosystems as deserts, as nutrient cycling. Grasslands also support a of species and provide globally and locally savannah and tropical dry woodlands. wide range of natural diversity, from endemic Figure 13: Dryland Living Planet Index. important ecosystem services. This habitat Drylands are also home to over 2 billion plant species to grazing mammals such as This shows an average -44 per cent trend and its species are under threat from pressures people whose livelihoods often depend antelopes, populations of which are vital for between 1970 and 2005 in 476 populations such as deforestation, illegal logging, forest directly on local ecosystem goods and sustaining many top predator species. There of 149 species. EVIDENCE fire and climate change. Deforestation services. While the addition of water points has been a 36 per cent decline in grassland continues in the tropics, with primary forest to dryland systems has permitted increased vertebrate populations since 1970 (Figure 14). Figure 14: Grassland Living Planet Index. disappearing at the rate of almost 3.5 million numbers of livestock for the short-term Grasslands are maintained by processes This shows an average -36 per cent trend hectares per year in Brazil and 1.5 million benefit of humans, this has had a negative such as artificial and natural fires, grazing, between 1970 and 2005 in 703 populations hectares per year in Indonesia over the period impact on fragile systems, to the detriment droughts and rainfall. This creates a delicate of 309 species. Fig. 12: TROPICAL FOREST LIVING PLANET INDEX, Fig. 13: DRYLAND LIVING PLANET INDEX, Fig. 14: GRASSLAND LIVING PLANET INDEX, 1970–2005 1970–2005 1970–2005 1.8 1.8 1.8 1.6 1.6 1.6 1.4 1.4 1.4 1.2 1.2 1.2 Index (1970=1.0) Index (1970=1.0) Index (1970=1.0) 1.0 1.0 1.0 0.8 0.8 0.8 0.6 0.6 0.6 Tropical forest index Dryland index Grassland index 0.4 0.4 0.4 Confidence limits Confidence limits Confidence limits 0.2 0.2 0.2 0 0 0 1970 1980 1990 2000 05 1970 1980 1990 2000 05 1970 1980 1990 2000 05 LIVING PLANET REPORT 2008 9
  12. 12. LIVING PLANET INDEX: BIOGEOGRAPHIC REALMS The Earth’s land surface can be divided into small relative to the other realms. As a in abundance from 1970 to 2005 increased plummeted due to hunting pressure over the regions or realms characterized by distinct consequence, the magnitude of the trend is (Figure 17). Most of the population data last 40 years (see opposite). assemblages of animals and plants (Figure 8). largely driven by catastrophic declines in a available are from Western Europe, the part The Afrotropical index shows an average Trends in species populations are different number of amphibian species such as the of the world most affected by human activities decline of 19 per cent over the 35-year period in each realm according to the intensity and golden toad (Bufo periglenes) from Costa over the past 300 years. More than 50 per cent (Figure 18). Recent positive trends in the history of the threats to their biodiversity. The Rica, which is now thought to be extinct. of the land has been converted for agricultural index could reflect some of the conservation following figures show trends in terrestrial and Decreases in abundance are also apparent in use, so many species declines are likely to efforts on species such as the white rhino freshwater species populations in each realm. other Neotropical species, but not at such a have occurred before 1970. The positive trend (Ceratotherium simum). However, the Species in the Nearctic realm have been rapid rate. for the Palearctic realm since 1970 may, in northern subspecies has been extirpated extensively monitored, providing a large The Neotropics contain 40 per cent of all part, reflect conservation successes resulting from most of its historical range and is now amount of population trend data. Species plant and animal species on the planet, the from habitat protection, reduction of pollution on the brink of extinction (see opposite). population abundance from 1970 to 2005 most biodiverse of all the biogeographic or other environmental improvements. This shows that although progress is being shows no overall change (Figure 15). realms. These species are under threat mainly However, with globalization, pressure on made towards recovery and protection of By contrast, the Neotropical index shows from habitat loss. For example, between 2000 the environment has shifted to the tropics and certain species in the Afrotropical realm, a large decline from 1970 to 2004 (Figure 16). and 2005 the net loss of forests in South other regions. Trends in the Eastern Palearctic conservation action in the region is still Whilst this index combines data from all America was about 4.3 million hectares per are less certain as fewer data are available. essential for reducing the rate of decline. vertebrate classes, the amount of population year, exceeding that of all other regions. One species of concern is the saiga antelope The Indo-Pacific index combines data available for the Neotropical index is In the Palearctic realm, the average trend (Saiga tatarica), populations of which have species population data from three realms: Fig. 15: NEARCTIC LIVING PLANET INDEX, Fig. 16: NEOTROPICAL LIVING PLANET INDEX, Fig. 17: PALEARCTIC LIVING PLANET INDEX, 1970–2005 1970–2004 1970–2005 1.8 1.8 1.8 1.6 1.6 1.6 1.4 1.4 1.4 1.2 1.2 1.2 Index (1970=1.0) Index (1970=1.0) Index (1970=1.0) 1.0 1.0 1.0 0.8 0.8 0.8 0.6 0.6 0.6 Nearctic index Neotropical index Palearctic index 0.4 0.4 0.4 Confidence limits Confidence limits Confidence limits 0.2 0.2 0.2 0 0 0 1970 1980 1990 2000 05 1970 1980 1990 2000 05 1970 1980 1990 2000 05 10 LIVING PLANET REPORT 2008
  13. 13. Indomalaya, Australasia and Oceania, as there trend over 34 years in 202 populations of are insufficient data to produce individual 144 Neotropical species. SAIGA ANTELOPE NORTHERN WHITE RHINO realm results. The index reveals an average The saiga (Saiga tatarica) is an antelope The northern white rhino (Ceratotherium decline of about 35 per cent from 1970 to Figure 17: Palearctic Living Planet Index. of the semi-arid grasslands of Central Asia simum cottoni) was once abundant across 2005, with a constant downward trend since This shows an overall +30 per cent trend that has been hunted for its meat, horn and North-Central Africa. Now the only known the late 1970s (Figure 19). Tropical forest loss over 35 years in 1,167 populations of 363 hide for many centuries. In recent times, its population is in the Democratic Republic has been most severe in the Indo-Pacific Palearctic species. decline has been compounded by the use of Congo, where numbers have dropped realm, where much of the original forest has of its horns in Chinese traditional medicine. from 500 to 4. Small numbers, restricted been cleared for agriculture or plantations, Figure 18: Afrotropical Living Planet Index. Although hunting is now regulated in saiga geographic distribution and poaching driven by the international demand for This shows an average -19 per cent trend range states (and no international trade is pressure make this subspecies Critically products such as palm oil. over 35 years in 552 populations of 201 allowed), lack of funding and management Endangered. Recent surveys have failed to Afrotropical species. infrastructure, combined with a weakened locate the last recorded individuals. Their Figure 15: Nearctic Living Planet Index. rural economy, has led to widespread closest relatives, the southern white rhinos EVIDENCE This shows no overall change in 1,117 Figure 19: Indo-Pacific Living Planet Index. poaching. This is the most likely explanation (Ceratotherium simum simum), are increas- populations of 588 Nearctic species. This includes the Indomalayan, Australasian for the severe and ongoing decline of recent ing, and there has been significant pro- and Oceanic realms, and shows an average years, as witnessed by the large quantities of gress towards conservation of the Critically Figure 16: Neotropical Living Planet Index. -35 per cent trend over 35 years in 441 saiga meat on sale in Kazakhstan markets. Endangered black rhino (Diceros bicornis). The index shows an average -76 per cent populations of 155 species. Fig. 18: AFROTROPICAL LIVING PLANET INDEX, Fig. 19: INDO-PACIFIC LIVING PLANET INDEX, 1 No. of individuals (million) 1970–2005 1970–2005 1.8 1.8 1.6 1.6 1.4 1.4 1.2 1.2 0 1965 2000 Index (1970=1.0) Index (1970=1.0) Saiga antelope (Saiga tatarica) 1.0 1.0 5 No. of individuals (hundred) 0.8 0.8 0.6 0.6 Afrotropical index Indo-Pacific index 0.4 0.4 Confidence limits Confidence limits 0.2 0.2 0 1970 2005 0 0 1970 1980 1990 2000 05 1970 1980 1990 2000 05 Northern white rhino (Ceratotherium simum cottoni) LIVING PLANET REPORT 2008 11
  14. 14. L I V I N G P L A N E T I N D E X : TA X A While broad trends across ecosystems provide been described, of which 20 per cent are representing a regrettable loss in terms an overview of changes in population classified as threatened by the IUCN Red of global biodiversity, this trend has TRENDS IN SAMPLE POPULATIONS numbers, they do not show the relative List of Threatened Species. The mammal implications for human well-being. Humans OF SELECTED SPECIES impacts of human pressures across different index has decreased by about 20 per cent depend on healthy ecosystems and thriving The opposite page reveals population species and taxonomic groups. over the last decade (Figure 21), with the species populations to ensure the continued trends for 12 terrestrial, marine and fresh- There are almost 10,000 species of bird most serious declines in the tropical realms. provision of ecological services. water species, illustrating the kinds of inhabiting a diverse range of habitats. Their Overexploitation is one of the principal data that are used to calculate the Living widespread distribution, plus the fact that threats to this group, extensively targeted Figure 20: Bird Living Planet Index. Planet Index. The examples shown give extensive information has been collected on by the bushmeat trade, notably in Africa This shows an average -20 per cent trend an insight into trends in animal popula- them, has enabled a robust indicator of bird and Southeast Asia. between 1970 and 2005 in 2,185 populations tions from different locations but do not trends to be produced. The decline of 20 per While populations of species are of 895 species. Temperate and tropical necessarily represent the picture for the cent in the bird index (Figure 20) masks increasing and decreasing in different species have equal weighting to compensate entire species. a more serious decline of 50 per cent areas of the globe (see opposite), and the for the much larger temperate data set. experienced by surveyed populations of threats resulting from humanity’s growing A positive sign is that some populations tropical and marine birds. Major threats footprint do not impact all species equally, Figure 21: Mammal Living Planet Index. are either stable or increasing and these include habitat loss, invasive alien species, the overwhelming picture that is seen from This shows an average -19 per cent trend represent conservation successes from overexploitation and pollution. averaging these trends is one of global from 1970 to 2005 in 1,161 populations of which we can learn, such as the reintro- More than 5,400 mammal species have decline in species abundance. Apart from 355 species. duction of the Mauritius kestrel. Unfortunately the number of declining trends among these populations highlights Fig. 20: BIRD LIVING PLANET INDEX, Fig. 21: MAMMAL LIVING PLANET INDEX, key issues that still need to be addressed. 1970–2005 1970–2005 One of the main threats impacting some of 1.8 1.8 the sample populations is habitat deg- radation, as illustrated by the decline in 1.6 1.6 the black-winged stilt. Another threat is the 1.4 1.4 overexploitation of species either directly – through current hunting as in the case 1.2 1.2 Index (1970=1.0) Index (1970=1.0) of the hippopotamus in the Democratic 1.0 1.0 Republic of Congo or historical hunting in the case of the diamondback terrapin – 0.8 0.8 or indirectly as the bycatch of certain 0.6 0.6 fishing practices. Examples of the latter Bird index Mammal index include the wandering albatross and the 0.4 0.4 Confidence limits Confidence limits loggerhead turtle. 0.2 0.2 Note: the baseline on all sample species graphs is zero. 0 0 1970 1980 1990 2000 05 1970 1980 1990 2000 05 12 LIVING PLANET REPORT 2008
  15. 15. 160 160 60,000 Min. population size Counts of birds Cow/calf pairs 1970 2005 1970 2005 1970 2005 Mauritius kestrel (Falco punctatus) Southern right whale (Eubalaena australis), Indian Ocean Black winged stilt (Himantopus himantopus), eastern Australia Mauritius (southern coast of South Africa) 350 2,000 5,000 No. of breeding pairs No. of individuals No. of fish EVIDENCE 1970 2005 1970 2005 1970 2005 Red howler monkey (Alouatta seniculus) Wandering albatross (Diomedea exulans), South Atlantic Ocean Coho salmon (Oncorhynchus kisutch), Yukon River, Hato Masaguaral, Guarico state, Venezuela (Bird Island, South Georgia) Alaska, United States of America 10 800 400 Population abundance No. of individuals 1970 2005 No. of nests 1970 2005 1970 2005 Elegant fat-tailed opossum (Thylamys elegans) Loggerhead turtle (Caretta caretta), South Pacific Ocean Diamondback terrapin (Malaclemys terrapin), Kiawa River, Las Chinchillas National Reserve, Auco, Chile (Wreck Island, Australia) South Carolina, United States of America 5 2 30,000 No. of individuals (unit efforts) Relative abundance index No.of individuals 1970 2005 1970 2005 1970 2005 Grey treefrog (Hyla versicolor), Wisconsin, United States of America Whale shark (Rhincodon typus), Indian Ocean (Andaman Sea, Thailand) Hippopotamus (Hippopotamus amphibius), Democratic Republic of Congo LIVING PLANET REPORT 2008 13

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