The Living Planet Report 2016: threats, pressures and addressing the challenges

New data released by WWF and ZSL showed that overall global vertebrate wildlife populations have fallen by 58% since 1970. 

The landmark report revealed that global populations of fish, birds, mammals, amphibians and reptiles are on course to decline by an average of 67 per cent from 1970 levels by 2020, unless urgent action is taken to reduce humanity’s impact on species and ecosystems.

The Living Planet Report 2016 is the world’s most comprehensive survey to date of the health of our planet, based on the The Living Planet Index (LPI) which measures thousands of populations to assess the rate of change of global wildlife abundance. 

It highlights how human activities including deforestation, pollution, overfishing and the illegal wildlife trade, coupled with climate change, are pushing species populations to the edge as people overpower the planet for the first time in Earth’s history.

This meeting explored these different threats in detail, including habitat degradation resulting from the pressures of food production and population growth, exploitation through hunting and illegal wildlife trade, the contribution of transport and energy-use to climate change, invasive species, wildlife disease and the impacts industry has on the management of finite resources. 

Despite the scale of the challenge, a shift towards sustainable development is vital for human well-being, which depends on natural resources and ecosystem services. 

This symposium brought together leading experts and report contributors to examine the primary drivers of decline with the aim of exploring how individuals, communities and governments can make better choices in order to preserve biodiversity. 

Speakers and chairs

Dr Mike Barrett, Director of Science and Policy, WWF-UK
Dr Stephen Cornelius, Climate Change Chief Advisor, Science and Policy Team, WWF
Dr Robin Freeman, Head of Indicators and Assessments, ZSL
Dr Trenton Garner, Reader, Institute of Zoology, ZSL
Patrick Holden CBE, Founding Director of the Sustainable Food Trust
Professor Heather Koldewey, Head of Marine and Freshwater Programmes, ZSL
Dr Emma Keller, Agricultural Commodities Manager, WWF-UK
Karin Kuhlemann, Population Matters
Toby Park, The Behavioural Insights Team
Professor Andy Purvis, Natural History Museum and Imperial College London
Ben Tapley, Curator of Herpetology, ZSL
Professor Rosie Woodroffe, Senior Research Fellow, Institute of Zoology, ZSL



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