A rapport from the World Wildlife Fund for Nature (WWF) on Thursday announced wildlife populations had declined at an unprecedented pace, plummeting 68% from 1970 to 2016. WWF said deforestation intended at making space for farming was the main contributor to wildlife population collapse. The organization came to this conclusion after tracking over 4000 species of vertebrates.
In WWF´s living planet index of two years ago, the organization had found wildlife had declined 60%. Today’s numbers show an even more worrying deterioration in wildlife populations. “It is staggering,” said WWF International Director General Marco Lambertini. “It is ultimately an indicator of our impact on the natural world.”
The organization stated that in some regions, like Central and South America, the decline in population was over 90% in the last 50 years.
“It’s an accelerating decrease that we’ve been monitoring for 30 years and it continues to go in the wrong direction,” Lambertini told AFP news agency.
Badly affected wildlife included Eastern lowland gorillas in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the African grey parrot in Ghana.
Deforestation has also lead to a higher chance of humans contracting zoonotic diseases like Covid-19 and Ebola. “Forests really act as buffers to keep those diseases away from humans – and the more we destroy them, the more chances there are that we are going to unleash something that can have dire impacts on humanity.” Fran Price, leader of the global forest practice at WWF, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.