The latest Living Planet Report produced by WWF International in collaboration with the Zoological Society of London, the Water Footprint Network and the Global Footprint Network makes sobering reading. The number of wild mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and fish on our planet has fallen by half over the last 40 years. This means that the state of the world’s biodiversity is worse than ever.
There is simply less space for wild animals to live as habitat loss and degradation continue. In addition to this, animals are killed at a rate faster than they can reproduce as exploitation through hunting and fishing increases. Climate change is the third most common threat to biodiversity and this threat is likely to increase pressure on populations in the future. The Report states that the biomass of marine species declined by 39% between 1970 and 2010. The animals most affected are turtles, many shark species, and large migratory birds such as the albatross, as well as large fish species such as the tunas.
While biodiversity loss is a visible indication of human impact on the planet, it is the invisible effects which we also need to understand. Our Ecological Footprint is the impact that humanity has on all the goods and services which the planet provides us with – freshwater to drink, fresh air to breathe, soil to grow food, productive fishing grounds, forests to absorb carbon dioxide and so much more. Basically – the planet provides us with all we need to live on earth – but we are using up natural resources faster than they can be regenerated – we are currently using more that the earth can provide.
Finding hope in this report is difficult – but humanity’s very existence depends on healthy ecosystems to provide us with a liveable climate, water, air, food, fuel and fibre. Without this life on earth as we know it would simply not be possible – the survival of humans depends on our ability to care for the planet now. Conservation is now about human survival – it’s about the decisions that each of us make to ensure that our children inherit a planet which can sustain them.
There is hope and the staff of SAAMBR see hope daily. Each staff member is committed to helping people to care for our oceans – through our research, our community outreach, our inspiring animals and our education programme. From assisting in the proclamation of Marine Protected Areas to teaching a rural mussel collector about sustainable harvesting, from teaching educators about life in the oceans to inspiring visitors to change their behaviour through our Penguin Promises campaign, each day we see hope. The report leaves us with the thought “We know where we want to be, We know how to get there, Now we need to get moving”. SAAMBR is moving, united for conservation and we look forward to sharing our journey with you.