Billions of wild species at risk, the report warns

Billions of wild species at risk, the report warns
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RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) – Every day, billions of people depend on wild flora and fauna for food, medicine and energy. But a new United Nations-backed report says overexploitation, climate change, pollution and deforestation are pushing a million species to extinction.

The Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (or IPBES) said on Friday that unless humanity improves sustainable use of nature, the Earth is about to lose 12% of its wild tree species and more than 1,000 species of wild mammals. and about 450 species of sharks and rays, among other irreparable harm.

According to the report, humans regularly consume about 50,000 wild species, and 1 in 5 of the world’s 7.9 billion people depend on these species for food and income. 1 in 3 people use firewood for cooking, and this number is higher in Africa.

“It’s important that these uses are sustainable because you need them to be there for your children and grandchildren. So when the use of wild species becomes unsustainable, it’s bad for the species, it’s bad for the ecosystem and it’s bad for people,” co-chair Marla R. Emery of the United States told The Associated Press.

Apart from the bleak picture, the report also provides recommendations for policy makers and examples for sustainable use of wild fauna and flora. The report notes that securing the property rights of local and indigenous peoples who have historically used wild species continuously should be a focal point.

According to the study, indigenous peoples occupy about 38,000,000 square kilometers (14,600,000 square miles) in 87 countries, which is about 40% of land protected areas.

“Their soils perform better in terms of sustainability than other soils. And the common thread is the ability to continue to engage in routine practices,” said Emery, who is also a U.S. Forest Service researcher.

Emery argued that it is important to provide national and international systems, such as education, that promote the preservation of indigenous languages, as this preserves the ability of older members to transmit traditional knowledge of sustainable practices to new generations.

Frenchman Jean-Marc Fromentin, co-chair of the report, told AP that an example of good practice is the arapaima fishery, one of the world’s largest freshwater fish, in the Brazilian Amazon.

“It was a transition from an unsustainable state to a sustainable state,” Fromentin said. “Some communities in Brazil created community-based management and then called on some scientists to learn more about the biology of the fish and put in place an effective monitoring system. It worked so well that the model went to other communities and countries like Peru.

Gregorio Mirabal, head of the Coordinator of Indigenous Organizations of the Amazon Basin, who was not involved in the report, told the AP that there have already been several UN studies that highlight the importance of biodiversity and the dangers posed by climate change, but they do not bring solutions.

The local leader noted the growing problems in the region, such as water pollution from mercury used in illegal mining and oil spills. Moreover, those who oppose these practices face violence, such as the recent killing of a local fighter in a mining area in Venezuela.

“In the Amazon, there is inefficient exploitation of natural resources, but no social investment to improve the health, education, cultural and nutritional status of indigenous peoples,” Mirabal said.

The report was endorsed by representatives of 139 member states meeting this week in Bonn, Germany. Dozens of experts participated, from scientists to local knowledge holders. IPBES is an independent intergovernmental body and is not part of the UN system, but is supported by the United Nations Environment Program and other agencies.


Associated Press climate and environmental coverage receives support from several private foundations. Find out more about the EP’s climate initiative here. AP is responsible for all content.

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