Animal, plant and marine biodiversity comprise the "natural capital" that keeps our ecosystems functional and economies productive. But the world is experiencing a dramatic loss of biodiversity. Although the pace of deforestation has slowed globally since the 1990s, it remains high with annual deforestation of about 13 million hectares, affecting critical animal and plant habitats. The world has also lost about 40% of warm water coral reefs since the 1980s. The Living Planet Index (LPI), which measures trends in selected species populations, shows an overall decline of 52% over the last 40 years, with particularly dramatic losses in tropical developing countries, mainly as a result of habitat loss, degradation, and overexploitation.
The loss of biodiversity has negative effects on livelihoods, water supply, food security and resilience to extreme events. It has consequences for 78% of the world’s extreme poor who live in rural areas and rely on ecosystems and the goods they produce to make a living. The World Bank estimates that crimes affecting natural resources and the environment inflict damage on developing countries worth more than $70 billion a year. The loss of coral reefs has significant physical and economic consequences for 350 million people living in coastal areas by reducing coastal protection and habitat for fish. Deforestation and land conversion contribute about 30% of global greenhouse emissions, and the loss of diversity reduces the resilience of ecosystems to climate change and other disturbances. Environmental degradation and disasters—manifested by floods, droughts, erosion and sedimentation—threaten large-scale infrastructure investments in hydropower, irrigation or coastal defenses.
Last Updated: Sep 09,2015