Scientists have estimated that the variety of animals and plants has fallen to dangerous levels across 58.1% of the world’s landmass, and that biodiversity loss is no longer within the safe limit suggested by ecologists.
The study, which was published this week in Science, was led by researchers from UCL, the Natural History Museum and UNEP-WCMC (United Nations Environment Programme World Conservation Monitoring Centre), and was the most comprehensive study yet undertaken of biodiversity loss.
“It’s worrying that land use has already pushed biodiversity below the level proposed as a safe limit,” said Prof Andy Purvis of the Natural History Museum and one of the authors. “Until and unless we can bring biodiversity back up, we’re playing ecological roulette.”
The report revealed that grasslands, savannas and shrublands were most affected by biodiversity loss, followed closely by many of the world’s forests and woodlands.
Dr Tim Newbold, research associate at University College London, and lead author of the study said, “We are entering the zone of uncertainty”.
The team behind the report hopes that the results will be used to inform conservation policy, and have made the maps and data from the paper publicly available.
The report can be found here.