© Jonathan Caramanus / Green Renaissance / WWF-UK Nancy Rono, Farmer, on her farm with cameleonon on her arm. Bomet County, Mara River Upper Catchment, Kenya.

LIVING PLANET REPORT 2020

The findings of The Living Planet Report 2020 are clear. Our relationship with nature is broken.

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The State of Biodiversity

Biodiversity – the rich diversity of life on Earth – is being lost at an alarming rate. The impacts of this loss on our well-being are mounting. And catastrophic impacts for people and planet loom closer than ever.

Time is running out. We must take action now if nature is going to recover.

© naturepl.com / Andy Rouse / WWF Black-browed albatross with a chick in nest

About the Living Planet Report

The Living Planet Report, WWF’s flagship publication released every two years, is a comprehensive study of trends in global biodiversity and the health of the planet.

The Living Planet Report 2020 is the 13th edition of the report and provides the scientific evidence to back what nature has been demonstrating repeatedly: unsustainable human activity is pushing the planet’s natural systems that support life on Earth to the edge.

Through multiple indicators including the Living Planet Index (LPI), provided by the Zoological Society of London (ZSL), it shows an average 68% fall in almost 21,000 wildlife populations between 1970 and 2016.

The report calls on world leaders to come together to build a more sustainable, resilient and healthy post COVID-19 world for people and nature.

Quick Facts from the Living Planet Report

Serious declines in species population trends are a measure of overall ecosystem health, and our planet is flashing red warning signs. The 2020 Planet Index shows an average 68 per cent decline in global vertebrate species populations — mammals, birds, amphibians, reptiles and fish — in less than half a century (from 1970 to 2016).

On average, population trends for monitored freshwater species appear to be falling steeply, with megafauna particularly at risk. Wildlife populations found in freshwater habitats have suffered the starkest average population decline in any biome, declining by an average of 84 per cent, equivalent to 4 per cent per year since 1970.

Average decline in freshwater population size since 1970
average decrease in population sizes of mammals, birds, amphibians, reptiles and fish
© WWF / Vincent Kneefel Close up of the head of a West Indian manatee under water, Florida.

The State of Wildlife in Canada

WWF-Canada’s Living Planet Report Canada (LPRC) 2020 analyzed wildlife population trends and found that efforts to protect and recover vulnerable wildlife at local, provincial and national scales are not nearly enough. Populations of Canadian species assessed as at risk nationally by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) have declined by 59 per cent, on average, from 1970–2016. Species of global conservation concern — assessed as threatened on the IUCN Red List — also have declined in Canada by 42 per cent, on average, from 1970–2016. At-risk species in Canada face an average of five threats, including the accelerating threat of climate change.

Average decline of Canadian species assessed as at risk
Average decline of species of global conservation concern
© WWF / James Morgan Aerial view of the Atlantic coast forest, Gabon

Why the Decline Matters

Almost all aspects of human health and well-being depend on nature: we rely on it for food, fibre, water, energy, medicines and other genetic materials; and it is key to the regulation of our climate, water quality, pollution, pollination services, flood control and storm surges.

The drivers of wildlife population decline are also direct threats to humans, potentially putting our health in peril. In addition to driving biodiversity loss, deforestation and the expansion of agricultural land, the intensification of livestock production, and the increased harvesting of wildlife are also key drivers for the emergence of infectious diseases of animal origin, including COVID-19.

Can Biodiversity Loss be Reversed?

Cutting-edge modelling shows that the world could start to stabilize and reverse the loss of nature.

This Bending the Curve initiative shows how this could be achieved by embracing bolder, more ambitious conservation efforts as well as making transformational changes in the way we produce and consume food, such as making food production and trade more efficient, reducing waste, and favouring healthier and more sustainable diets.

But, none of these actions, alone, will be enough.

© Adriano Gambarini / WWF-US Hands plant a seedline on Bela Vista Farm, Sao Paulo, Brazil

Solutions that Address Multiple Threats

Conservation strategies need to embrace systematic and multifaceted approaches that tackle both biodiversity loss and climate change at the same time. One way to do this is through nature-based climate solutions — like protected areas and restoration — which help stop wildlife loss by addressing multiple threats to biodiversity while also mitigating climate change by sequestering carbon in natural ecosystems.

WWF-Canada’s Living Planet Report Canada 2020 findings demonstrate the need for immediate action and heightened ambition. The next decade will be critical in reversing catastrophic wildlife loss and climate breakdown. Canada can — and must — provide global leadership by strengthening its goals and commitments at home and showing the world the way forward for nature and people.

Kids play in the ocean on Pasir Panjang beach, Kei Kecil, Maluku Islands, Indonesia © James Morgan / WWF-US