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IPBES Report | Biodiversity loss is a social and ecological emergency

The biodiversity crisis is rapidly becoming as big an issue as climate change. And without biodiversity, there is no future for humanity.

We are at risk of losing species before they have even been discovered. We are, it’s estimated, losing around 135 plant, animal and insect species every day. That’s 50,000 species a year, due to deforestation.

Scientists and government officials meet this week in Paris to finalise a key assessment of humanity’s relationship with nature. The Intergovernmental Panel for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) will then issue its first global assessment since 2005.

Dubbed the ‘IPCC for biodiversity’, it’s another call to arms on behalf of Earth’s fauna and flora.

We need to take effective and urgent action to halt the continued loss of wildlife to have resilient ecosystems that continue to provide natural ecosystem services. Securing Earth’s variety of life is vital not only for human well-being and poverty reduction but also for healthy, functioning ecosystems around the world.

Key takeaways from the report:

 

Healthy Soils

Close up of brown soilSoils rich in nutrients and bacteria are the hidden foundations of all life. The degradation of soils and subsequent soil microbes will compromise food production and the availability of clean water.

Climate and Biodiversity

Aerial view of rainforest topped with clouds stretching out to the horizonDegrading nature isn’t just detrimental for wildlife. It also affects the regulation of climate. The loss of primary (old-growth) forest is particularly concerning as they are essential stores of carbon.

Mass Extinction

Two scarlet macaws flying over forestThe IPBES report warns that we are moving toward a sixth mass extinction. It states that consumption rates are at critical levels and are now driving this loss.

Continuing Deforestation

looking down on the top of the green rainforest canopyDeforestation rates have increased with growing demand for crops like palm oil. 3.6 million hectares of primary rainforest were destroyed in 2018. If this continues, we won’t see rainforest past the end of this century.

Food Security

Bee collecting nectar from yellow flowersAn increasing lack of biodiversity is leaving food production much more vulnerable to climate shocks, such as outbreaks of disease, pests and extreme weather. The pollination of crops globally by bees and other animals alone is worth up to $577 billion.

Deforestation Drivers

“I WOULD SAY THAT THIS IS THE MOST COMPREHENSIVE ASSESSMENT ON THE STATE OF NATURE AND HUMANITY’S PLACE IN IT. WE NEED TO USE BIODIVERSITY IN A SUSTAINABLE WAY, SO THAT WE CAN BETTER RESPOND TO RISING CLIMATE CHANGE CHALLENGES AND PRODUCE FOOD IN A WAY THAT DOESN’T HARM OUR ENVIRONMENT.”

– PROF SIR ROBERT WATSON, IPBES CHAIR.

What can we do?

The report advises ways in which we can effectively address rapid biodiversity loss. From avoiding pesticides to protecting wildlife habitat, it’s important to protect ecosystems today if we are to slow this rate of extinction.

Protecting and preserving rainforest is one of the most essential actions we can take for the climate and Earth’s species, of all kinds.

Ecological breakdown is a global emergency, and we must respond accordingly. Nature is not ‘nice to have’ – it’s our life support system. We need to treat it as so, and protect habitat around the tropics.