According to a report by IPBES, an independent intergovernmental scientific and policy body supported by the UN, about one million species are threatened with extinction.
It may be surprising to learn that even giraffes, parrots and oak trees are on the endangered species list, along with cacti and seaweed.
Seaweeds are among the greatest survivors on the planet, and relatives of some modern seaweeds can be traced back some 1.6 billion years. Seaweeds play an important role in marine ecosystems, providing habitat and food for marine life, while larger species such as kelp act as underwater nurseries for fish. However, mechanical dredging, rising sea temperatures and the construction of coastal infrastructure contribute to the decline of the species.
The world’s trees are threatened by a variety of sources, including deforestation, deforestation for industry and agriculture, wood for heating and cooking, and climate-related threats such as forest fires.
According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species, 31 percent of the world’s 430 oak species are threatened with extinction. And 41 percent are of “concern concern,” mostly due to deforestation for agriculture and cooking fuel.
Giraffes are poached for their meat and suffer from habitat degradation due to unsustainable timber harvesting and increased demand for agricultural land; it is estimated that there are only about 600 West African giraffes left in the wild.
Catastrophic results for humanity
According to UN experts, the current biodiversity crisis will worsen with catastrophic results for humanity unless people interact with nature in a more sustainable way.
“The IPBES report makes it abundantly clear that wildlife is an essential source of food, shelter and income for hundreds of millions of people around the world,” says Susan Gardner, Director of the Ecosystems Division of the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP).
“Sustainable use is when biodiversity and ecosystem functioning are maintained while promoting human well-being. By continuing to use these resources irrationally, we not only risk losing and damaging populations of these species; we affect our own health and well-being, as well as the next generation.
The report illustrates the importance of indigenous peoples being able to secure tenure rights over their land, as they have long understood the value of wildlife and learned to use it sustainably.
Examples of the kinds of transformative changes needed to reduce biodiversity loss include equitable distribution of costs and benefits, changes in social values, and effective governance systems.
Governments around the world currently spend over $500 billion annually to damage biodiversity in order to support industries such as fossil fuels, agriculture and fisheries. Experts say these funds should be redirected to encourage regenerative agriculture, sustainable food systems and innovations that benefit nature.
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of UN News.
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