Levels of global biodiversity loss may negatively impact on ecosystem function and the sustainability of human societies, according to UCL-led research.
“This is the first time we’ve quantified the effect of habitat loss on biodiversity globally in such detail and we’ve found that across most of the world biodiversity loss is no longer within the safe limit suggested by ecologists” explained lead researcher, Dr Tim Newbold from UCL and previously at UNEP-WCMC.
“We know biodiversity loss affects ecosystem function but how it does this is not entirely clear. What we do know is that in many parts of the world, we are approaching a situation where human intervention might be needed to sustain ecosystem function.”
The team found that grasslands, savannas and shrublands were most affected by biodiversity loss, followed closely by many of the world’s forests and woodlands. They say the ability of biodiversity in these areas to support key ecosystem functions such as growth of living organisms and nutrient cycling has become increasingly uncertain.
The study, published today in Science, led by researchers from UCL, the Natural History Museum and UNEP-WCMC, found that levels of biodiversity loss are so high that if left unchecked, they could undermine efforts towards long-term sustainable development.
For 58.1% of the world’s land surface, which is home to 71.4% of the global population, the level of biodiversity loss is substantial enough to question the ability of ecosystems to support human societies. The loss is due to changes in land use and puts levels of biodiversity beyond the ‘safe limit’ recently proposed by the planetary boundaries – an international framework that defines a safe operating space for humanity.
“It’s worrying that land use has already pushed biodiversity below the level proposed as a safe limit,” said Professor Andy Purvis of the Natural History Museum, London, who also worked on the study. “Decision-makers worry a lot about economic recessions, but an ecological recession could have even worse consequences – and the biodiversity damage we’ve had means we’re at risk of that happening. Until and unless we can bring biodiversity back up, we’re playing ecological roulette.”
The team used data from hundreds of scientists across the globe to analyse 2.38 million records for 39,123 species at 18,659 sites where are captured in the database of the PREDICTS project. The analyses were then applied to estimate how biodiversity in every square kilometre land has changed since before humans modified the habitat.
They found that biodiversity hotspots – those that have seen habitat loss in the past but have a lot of species only found in that area – are threatened, showing high levels of biodiversity decline. Other high biodiversity areas, such as Amazonia, which have seen no land use change have higher levels of biodiversity and more scope for proactive conservation.
“The greatest changes have happened in those places where most people live, which might affect physical and psychological wellbeing. To address this, we would have to preserve the remaining areas of natural vegetation and restore human-used lands,” added Dr Newbold.
The team hope the results will be used to inform conservation policy, nationally and internationally, and to facilitate this, have made the maps from this paper and all of the underlying data publicly available.
Learn more: Biodiversity falls below ‘safe levels’ globally
The Latest on: Global biodiversity loss
via Google News
The Latest on: Global biodiversity loss
- Mapping biodiversity hotspots of fish communities in subtropical streams through environmental DNAon May 14, 2021 at 1:47 pm
Large tropical and subtropical rivers are among the most biodiverse ecosystems worldwide, but also suffer from high anthropogenic pressures. These rivers are hitherto subject to little or no routine ...
- Fighting the nature crisis from space: Measuring biodiversity with satelliteson May 14, 2021 at 5:35 am
As humans, we're currently facing two big environmental crises: climate change and biodiversity loss. The first managed to gain a lot of public attention and funding, whereas the latter goes on more ...
- Boris Johnson joins businesses in urging G7 for climate and biodiversity focuson May 12, 2021 at 12:30 pm
CBI chief says it is 'not acceptable' for businesses to sit on the sidelines amid 'seismic' challenges from climate change, biodiversity loss and Covid-19 ...
- Lancaster University: Study examining biodiversity loss calls for urgent global economy ‘rethink’on May 11, 2021 at 11:12 pm
Conservation efforts in Kenya, and around the world, have been hindered by structural economic processes such as debt and austerity, further contributing to the decline of species such as rhinosNew re ...
- Nature: Throwing money at biodiversity schemes is ineffectiveon May 11, 2021 at 7:00 pm
Rich countries "throwing money" at schemes designed to enhance biodiversity is ineffective, a report by charity Third World Network says. The report calls for "a profound re-organisation of the global ...
- Renewed IKEA and WWF partnership to accelerate action to enhance biodiversityon May 11, 2021 at 5:00 pm
WWF and Inter IKEA Group have partnered to drive positive environmental impact within different industries, and today a renewed term of partnership until 2025 is announced. The partnership reaffirms ...
- Global land use changes are four times greater than previously estimatedon May 11, 2021 at 8:55 am
Quantifying land use change is critical in tackling global challenges related to food, climate and biodiversity. Here the authors show that land use change has affected 32 % of the global land area in ...
- Climate risks demand a global economy that’s nature-positiveon May 11, 2021 at 12:38 am
We must rewire our economic system and reward sustainable long-term performance that goes beyond financial returns ...
- Study examining biodiversity loss calls for urgent global economy 'rethink'on May 10, 2021 at 9:00 pm
New research examining the major causes of the world's biodiversity loss calls for an urgent and profound re-organisation of the global post-pandemic economy to prevent further planetary harm.
- Global warming causes depletion in biodiversity: Studyon May 7, 2021 at 6:22 am
We all know that global warming is harmful to the earth as it increases the water level in the sea but now it is also endangering the biodiversity present on the planet. Studies suggest that an ...
via Bing News