A major study co-authored by researchers at more than 40 institutes and NGOs around the world has identified key combined actions needed to reverse biodiversity loss.
Terrestrial biodiversity is declining rapidly, mainly through habitat destruction from conversion of natural habitats to land for agriculture.
By using multiple models and comparing different scenarios, the researchers suggest that reversing biodiversity loss by 2050 will only be possible through bold and better managed conservation and restoration efforts.
This must also be combined with a transformation in the food system by making food production and trade more efficient and sustainable, reducing waste and promoting environmentally friendly diets.
“It's important to remember that the environmental and biodiversity impact of our consumption is often manifested thousands of kilometres away, in developing countries that produce the resources we consume daily,” says co-author Moreno Di Marco at Sapienza University of Rome, Italy.
The study is part of the World Wildlife Fund’s Living Planet Report 2020, which found that population sizes of global vertebrate species fell by 68% between 1970 and 2016. The models suggest that if nations do not take action now, the rates of biodiversity loss that have occurred since 1970 will continue.
“What we can all do right now is to minimise the waste of resources and embrace a more sustainable lifestyle which includes, for example, the reduction of our meat consumption by 50%,” adds Di Marco. “Policymakers should promote the development of more efficient agricultural techniques, which allow us to reduce the amount of land needed to produce food, saving space for natural habitats.”
Leclère, D. et al. Nature 585, 551–556 (2020)