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The 2020 WWF Living Planet Index showed an average 68% decline in global vertebrate species populations in less than half a century
DURBAN – Biodiversity loss, possibly being the next wave, will come under the spotlight at next week’s World Wide Fund For Nature (WWF) Living Planet Conference.
The virtual conference will take place from August 24 to August 26, under the theme “#NatureCounts – Is biodiversity loss the next wave?”
SA media manager Andrea Weiss said biodiversity created significant economic value in the form of ecosystem services such as food provisioning, carbon storage, and water and air filtration.
She said ecosystem services alone – are worth more than $150 trillion annually, about twice the world’s GDP – according to academic research and Boston Consulting Group analysis.
“During the three-day conference, there will be several in-depth sessions with executive insights into how to secure biodiversity, the role of financing and the business community, issues around climate and water security and the importance of indigenous knowledge in our efforts to secure biodiversity,” said Weiss.
She said that a closing highlight will be the annual Living Planet Award to an individual, and for the first time, an organisation.
The 2020 WWF Living Planet Index showed an average 68% decline in global vertebrate species populations (mammals, birds, amphibians, reptiles and fish), in less than half a century.
Species population trends are a measure of overall ecosystem health.
According to the WWF, serious declines are an indicator that our planet is flashing red warning signs of systems failure, impacting not only on wildlife populations but also on human health and all aspects of our lives.
The main cause of the dramatic decline in species populations observed in the Living Planet Index is habitat loss and degradation, including deforestation, driven mainly by food production.
South Africa is one of the world’s 17 mega diverse nations (these are countries which exhibit great biodiversity, have at least 5 000 species of endemic plants and border marine ecosystems).
This was according to SANBI National Biodiversity Assessment 2018.
“With the support of knowledgeable local and global voices, the Living Planet Conference 2021 will explore trends and opportunities in biodiversity conservation, blending experience with the latest science,” said Weiss.