Negative record for wild species populations surveyed: The global barometer of species diversity has reached a new low. According to the new Living Planet Report from the conservation organization WWF, the populations of mammals, birds, amphibians, reptiles and fish studied worldwide have decreased by more than two-thirds on average since 1970.
For example, the population of the eastern lowland gorilla in Congo has plummeted by more than 80 percent since 1994. The number of dolphins in the Ionian Sea decreased by 90 percent between 1995 and 2007 due to overfishing. Koalas are also suffering from habitat destruction: devastating wildfires have decimated their habitat by 50 percent since 2001.
The Living Planet Index is based on data from 32,000 vertebrate populations of 5,230 species, whose populations have declined by an average of 69 percent. Latin America and the Caribbean have been hit particularly hard, with a devastating 94 percent drop.
Poaching, Deforestation and Habitat Destruction
According to the WWF report, the main drivers of the negative trend are habitat destruction and overexploitation, deforestation, illegal wildlife trade and poaching. In addition, there is the fatal ping-pong effect between species extinction and the climate crisis, which is central to the report for the first time.
More tigers and seals
But the report also gives hope. Tigers in Nepal have seen their population increase by 91 percent. This year there were even 355 tigers counted. Gray seals are also seen more often: the population in the Baltic Sea increased by 139 percent between 2013 and 2019.
Austria: extinction of species in rivers and lakes
But the extinction of species is also progressing in Austria. More than 60 percent of native fish species are currently under threat and only 14 percent of rivers are ecologically intact. Yet new monster projects are always planned in previously untouched nature: The planned expansion of the Kaunertal power station in Tyrol would remove up to 80 percent of the water from the Ötztal and destroy a large moor area in the nearby Platzertal – with dramatic consequences for the environment.
Europe is also responsible for massive destruction of nature in other parts of the world. Above all, tropical forests in Latin America are ruthlessly cut down to produce animal feed for export to Europe.