About the index
The Living Planet Index (LPI) is a measure of the state of global biological diversity based on population trends of vertebrate species from around the world. It does this in much the same way that a stock market index tracks the value of a set of shares or a retail price index tracks the cost of a basket of consumer goods.
The Living Planet Database (LPD) currently holds time-series data for over 18,000 populations of more than 3,600 mammal, bird, fish, reptile and amphibian species from around the world, which are gathered from a variety of sources such as journals, online databases and government reports.
Using a method developed by ZSL and WWF, these species population trends are aggregated to produce indices of the state of biodiversity for communication and informing policy.
The rest of our work focusses on expanding the coverage of LPI data to more broadly represent vertebrate biodiversity from all around the globe and disaggregating the index to measure trends in different thematic areas.
This includes assessing the changes in different taxonomic groups, looking at species trends at a national or regional level, identifying how different threats affect populations and providing an insight into how conservation intervention can promote species recoveries.
Living Planet Report
The results of the global Living Panet Index (LPI) are published biennially in WWF's Living Planet Report (LPR), a leading science-based publication on the state of the planet and associated challenges and solutions.
WWF’s LPR is produced in collaboration with ZSL and a number of other organisations including the Global Footprint Network who develop the Ecological Footprint, measuring human pressures and impacts on the planet.
Each chapter in the LPR presents a different topic, from the state of the natural world to human impacts on the planet and root causes; finally, each report outlines solutions for reducing the impact of human activity and new approaches for a sustainable planet.
ZSL contributes to the chapter on the state of the natural planet and it is here that we publish the latest results from the LPI. Firstly we present the global LPI to indicate the current state of biodiversity on the planet and then we disaggregate this index into a terrestrial, freshwater and marine LPI to show how trends vary according to the system in which a species lives.
In depth analysis on different habitats, species groups and individual species examples are also produced to illustrate the prevalent issues currently affecting biodiversity and how these are affecting species.
Living Planet Report 2016
The Living Panet Index data tells us how species are faring, by measuring trends in 14,152 monitored populations of 3,706 vertebrate species. It is not a census of all wildlife, but reports the average percentage change in size of over 14,000 wildlife populations monitored throughout the world.
Key findings in the Living Planet Report 2016 show that:
- From 1970 to 2012, there was a 58 per cent overall decline in vertebrate population sizes.
- In other words, the population abundance of mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and fish have, on average, dropped by more than half in little more than 40 years.
- This is an average annual decline of 2 per cent – and there is no sign yet that this rate will decrease.
- If this downward trend persists, species populations could decline on average by 67 per cent by 2020, within only half a century.