Sir David Attenborough joins global call to save nature

Nature is being destroyed by humans at a rate never seen before, according to a new report which shows wildlife populations across the world have crashed by more than two thirds in the past 50 years.

Thursday, 10th September 2020, 7:30 am
Updated Thursday, 10th September 2020, 9:33 am

Experts are warning that plants and animals are in “freefall”, with “catastrophic” declines showing no signs of slowing.

They blame the spread of farming into previously wild landscapes and over-fishing among the main causes.

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The latest Living Planet report, from international conservation charity WWF, has revealed that the numbers of mammals, birds, fish, plants and insects have fallen by an average of 68 per cent globally since 1970.

African elephants have been almost wiped out in some places due to poaching

Scottish seabirds are among the species disappearing at an alarming speed, with Arctic skua populations dropping by 62 per cent over just three decades.

Found in the Orkney islands, the skua has been experiencing the most dramatic declines of any of the UK’s seabirds - thought to be a result of increased competition for food, driven by climate change.

Meanwhile, grey partridge numbers in the UK fell by 85 per cent between 1970 and 2004, mainly due to changing land management practices.

Other species at serious risk of extinction across the globe include African elephants, leatherback turtles and gorillas, which have all been impacted by human activities.

Scotland's Arctic Skuas, found in the Orkney islands, have suffered dramatic losses over the past 30 years

Analysis shows almost one in three freshwater species are threatened with extinction, with an average decrease of 84 per cent since 1970.

The findings have sparked urgent calls for action to be taken before countless species vanish from the planet forever.

Conservationists say the situation could be turned around by combining ambitious conservation efforts with swiftaction to stop habitat-loss and deforestation.

Lang Banks, director at WWF Scotland, said: “We’re on track to wipe wildlife from the face of the planet, but nature is sending us a desperate SOS.

The UK's grey partridges are not faring well, with declines in the species among the steepest of any birds in Europe

“This report makes clear that recovery can happen, but we need to place the environment at the heart of our decision-making, end harmful practices and catalyse nature’s recovery if we are to have any hope of building a safe and resilient future for nature, people and our planet.

“Here in Scotland that means restoring and expanding our native habitats; building farming and fishing in a way that enhances nature and reduces climate emissions, and protecting our oceans.”

Naturalist and broadcaster Sir David Attenborough has added his support, issuing a plea for international co-operation to restore the natural world.

He said: “The time for pure national interests has passed, internationalism has to be our approach and in doing so bring about a greater equality between what nations take from the world and what they give back.

Nepal's tiger population increased by 64 per cent between 2008 and 2014, due to conservation efforts, including protection from poaching, habitat management and community engagement

"The wealthier nations have taken a lot and the time has now come to give.”

WWF’s Living Planet Report includes work by more than 125 international researchers and draws on the latest findings in the Zoological Society of London’s Living Planet Index, tracking 4,392 species.

The report comes after the Mammal Society included Scottish wildcats, red squirrels, beavers and mountain hares in its red list of species at risk of extinction, and following the Scottish Government’s latest biodiversity figures showing wildlife populations have dropped by a quarter since 1994.

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