Report shows wildlife crisis looming
Monday 6 July 2009
The release of “Wildlife in a Changing World”, an analysis of the 2008 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, highlights the plight of the world’s biodiversity despite the commitments of governments worldwide to try and reverse the trend.
With the deadline for evaluation of the 2010 Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) target to reduce biodiversity loss fast approaching, the report shows that around 17,000 species which had their conservation status assessed are threatened with extinction.
Dr Ben Collen, Indicator and Assessments Unit , hopes that world leaders will use the information given in today’s report to take action:
"Within our lifetime, hundreds of species of birds, mammals, amphibians – but also numerous invertebrates -could be lost as a result of human actions," he said.
"We must set clear goals to reverse these trends and ensure that our enduring legacy is not to wipe out the small things provide us with great benefits such as pollination, nutrient cycling, and climate regulation."
To take on the challenge to assess some of the most speciose groups which represent a large proportion of the world’s biodiversity, a different approach is required since for these large groups a comprehensive survey of all species is not feasible.
As a result of the Sampled Approach to Red Listing project , invertebrates have now also entered the biodiversity debate: 14% of dragonflies were classed as threatened compared to around 32% of tropical freshwater crabs.
These early results already show that the status of invertebrate groups can be extremely variable; therefore generalising across invertebrates is perhaps not particularly meaningful in terms of prioritising conservation efforts, rather system level analysis might be important.
Initial results of a representative sample of reptiles show that one-fifth of reptiles are threatened with extinction, with habitat degradation being the main threat facing reptiles worldwide.
The Indo-Malayan realm is a hotspot for threatened reptiles as are the Neotropics, where the highest number of critically endangered species can be found – particularly on Caribbean islands.