Wildlife & Biodiversity

Humans are behind the dip in population of fishes, plants: Report

A study on biodiversity says 42 per cent of terrestrial animal and plant species have vanished in the last decade

By Meenakshi Sushma
Published: Monday 26 March 2018

Pollution, natural resource extraction and land use are the major reasons for declining biodiversity. Credit: Peter Leth/FlickrHuman activities like pollution, natural resource extraction and land use, are behind the declining population of fishes, terrestrial animal and plant species, says Mark Raounsevell in Europe and central Asia, a co-chair at the sixth plenary session of Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES).

This event, which was held in Medellin, Colombia, saw the launch of four major regional biodiversity assessment reports on America, Asia-Pacific, Africa, Europe and Central Asia. Raounsevell, who was representing Europe and central Asia, says, “The fish population has although seen a 26 per cent dip, it recently also saw 2 per cent rise owing to policy changes by governments.”

Over the years, Europe and central Asia has seen massive decline in biodiversity. As much as 42 per cent of terrestrial animal and plant species have vanished in the last decade. Another sector that is under threat is freshwater ecosystem. The co-chair says human activities, including land use, natural resource extraction and pollution, are major reasons for this decline, apart from climate change.

Other reason for habitat degradation is the current usage of natural resources, which is unsustainable and does not follow indigenous knowledge and other biodiversity-friendly practices, according to Raounsevell.

He adds that Europe and central Asia consume more than it produces, leaving a large ecological footprint on the rest of the world.

Changes needed

Biodiversity experts have come up with few solutions:

  • Decoupling economic growth and degradation of nature; for example, if a natural resource is extracted for its economic value, more policy and taxation changes should occur
  • Measuring national welfare beyond current economic indicators, which means there should be other ways to measure sustainable usage of the resource
  • Changing objectives and designs of national policies
  • Integrating policy: Instead of making policy changes for each ecosystem, they should integrate them as all ecosystems are linked.

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