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Global assessment of forest biodiversity by WWF

Topics covered:

  1. Conservation related issues.

 

Global assessment of forest biodiversity by WWF

 

What to study?

For prelims and mains: About WWF and key findings of the report.

 

Context: World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) has released the first-ever global assessment of forest biodiversity.

 

Background:

Until now, forest biodiversity had never been assessed, but forest area was often used as a proxy indicator.

The new findings were based on the Forest Specialist Index, developed following the Living Planet Index methodology — an index that tracks wildlife that lives only in forests.

 

Key findings:

There has been a 53% decline in the number of forest wildlife populations since 1970.

Of the 455 monitored populations of forest specialists, more than half declined at an annual rate of 1.7 per cent, on average between 1970 and 2014.

While the decline was consistent in these years among mammals, reptiles and amphibians (particularly from the tropical forests), it was less among birds (especially from temperate forests).  

 

Reasons responsible for the decline in wildlife populations:

  1. Deforestation
  2. Habitat loss and habitat.
  3. Degradation/change.
  4. Exploitation
  5. Climate change.

 

Threats:

  1. Loss of habitat due to logging, agricultural expansion, mining, hunting, conflicts and spread of diseases accounted for almost 60 per cent of threats.
  2. Nearly 20 per cent of threats were due to overexploitation. Of the 112 forest-dwelling primate populations, 40 were threatened by overexploitation (hunting).
  3. Climate change, on the other hand, threatened to 43 per cent of amphibian populations, 37 per cent of reptile populations, 21 per cent of bird populations but only 3 per cent of mammal populations.
  4. More than 60 per cent of threatened forest specialist populations faced more than one threat.

 

What’s the main concern now?

Wildlife is an essential component of natural and healthy forests. They play a major role in forest regeneration and carbon storage by engaging in pollination and seed dispersal. Thus, loss of fauna can have severe implications for forest health, the climate and humans who depend on forests for their livelihoods.

 

Need of the hour:

Protecting wildlife and reversing the decline of nature requires urgent global action. The need is to preserve harmonious land use in our region, including forest management and protect the most valuable surviving ecosystems.

 

Sources: Down to earth.

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