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A million plant, animal species facing extinction­—study

One million plant and animal species are facing extinction due to human activities with agriculture as one of the biggest threats to biodiversity and ecosystems, according to the findings of the Global Assessment Report on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services.

About 75 percent of land and 66 percent of oceans have been “significantly altered” by people, driven in large part by the production of food, the report said.

Crop and livestock operations currently co-opt more than 33 percent of the land surface and 75 percent of its freshwater resources, the report said.

Agricultural activities are some of the largest contributors to human emissions of greenhouse gases, it added.

Based on the report, the next biggest threats to nature are the exploitation of plants and animals through harvesting, logging, hunting and fishing; climate change; pollution and the spread of invasive species.

The average abundance of native plants, animals and insects has fallen in most major ecosystems by at least 20 percent since 1900 because of invasive species.

According to Anne Larigauderie, IPBES executive secretary, biodiversity must at the top of the global agenda, alongside climate change as the two biggest threats to human and species survival.

“Without transformative changes to the world’s economic, social, and political systems to address this crisis, the IPBES panel predicts that major biodiversity losses will continue to 2050 and beyond. We are eroding the very foundations of our economies, livelihoods, food security, health and quality of life worldwide,” said Robert Watson, IPBES chairperson.

Theresa Mundita Lim, a high-ranking official of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Centre for Biodiversity, said “the global assessment provides useful figures and case illustrations that will allow policy makers all over the world, including in the ASEAN member states, to better visualise the state of the world’s and ASEAN’s biodiversity and natural resources, and their impacts to human survival. The report also provides good rationale, as well as suggestions for developing national, regional, and global policies and actions that can address gaps and guide future work that may possibly improve or reverse current situations.”

“Though capacity-building measures and policy support continue to be vital for various national agencies and implementing entities involved in biodiversity conservation, there remains a need to generate and present the science and scientific assessments necessary for policy development and corresponding actions. Law makers and leaders will respond to data and information that can directly link biodiversity loss to human well-being and survival,” she added.

She said the report would help guide the ASEAN member-states in developing recommendations for the Post 2020 Global Biodiversity Framework.

To enable any country to continue to progress, but at the same time protect its rich and unique biological resources, consolidated information serving as sound basis for making decisions on trade-offs, and striking the balance between conservation and development, would be a most useful contribution that a body like IPBES could provide.

Topics: Global Assessment Report on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services

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