Biodiversity declined 60% in tropics, WWF report says ahead of COP10

by Setsuko Kamiya

Wildlife populations, especially in the tropics, have declined drastically in the past four decades and the trend was especially marked in low-income countries, according to a report released Wednesday by the World Wide Fund for Nature.

The WWF on Thursday cited its report to lobby the governments participating in the 10th Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity, or COP10, that starts next week in Nagoya to reach agreements promoting the preservation and fair use of biodiversity.

“COP10 is an important and critical meeting. We cannot afford Nagoya to be a failure,” Gunter Mitlacher, one of the representatives of the international conservation group, said in Tokyo.

The Living Planet Report 2010 is a science-based analysis of the impact of human activity, published once every two years since 1998. According to the latest report’s Living Planet Index, which measures the overall health of biodiversity, the overall animal population was 30 percent less in 2007 than in 1970.

The report showed that the index declined by around 60 percent in less than 40 years in central Africa, Central and South America, Southeast Asia and Indo-Pacific regions. However, the population of temperate species showed signs of recovery and increased by 29 percent through conservation efforts, the report said.

The report warned that the amount of natural resources humans consume has doubled compared with 1966, and to continue at this pace of consumption and greenhouse gas emissions will require two Earths to sustain humanity by 2030.

Prior to the COP10 meetings that start Monday, the WWF urged the parties involved to adopt a new strategic plan to stop biodiversity loss by 2020 with ambitious targets that focus on reducing key threats. They also said Prime Minister Naoto Kan’s government is responsible for stewarding the discussions toward a successful outcome.

“What we don’t need is another Copenhagen,” Mitlacher said, referring to last December’s COP15 climate conference in Copenhagen, where the participating countries failed to agree on concrete targets for reducing carbon dioxide emissions.