Global populations of fish, birds, mammals, amphibians and reptiles have declined on average by 60% over the last 45 years.

Cape Town -The way we feed, fuel and finance our societies and economies is pushing nature, according to the World Wildlife Fund’s latest Living Planet Report.

The report, which comes out every two years, presents a sobering picture of the impact of human activity on the world’s wildlife, forests, oceans, rivers and climate. It underscores the rapidly closing window for action and the urgent need for the global community to rethink and redefine how we value, protect and restore nature.

The Living Planet Index, which tracks trends in global wildlife abundance, indicates that global populations of fish, birds, mammals, amphibians and reptiles declined on average, by 60% between 1970 and 2014, the most recent year with available data.

The top threats to species identified in the report are directly linked to human activities including habitat loss and degradation and overexploitation of wildlife.

Over recent decades, human activity has severely impacted the habitats and natural resources we depend on such as oceans, forests, coral reefs, wetlands and mangroves. An example is that 20% of the Amazon has disappeared in just 50 years while the earth is estimated to have lost about half of its shallow water corals in the past 30 years.

Dr Morné du Plessis, chief executive of WWF South Africa said the organisation was “pushing hard for a new global deal for nature and people to address the crucial questions, including how we feed a growing global population, how we limit global warming below two degrees Celsius and how we restore nature.”

The Living Planet Report highlights the opportunity the global community has to protect and restore nature leading up to 2020, a critical year when leaders are expected to review the progress made on the Sustainable Development Goals, the Paris Agreement and the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD).

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