Rampant over-consumption and the degradation of land have been highlighted as the main contribution to the plight of wildlife on our planet, according the the new study. The report, called the Living Planet Index, stated that human activity has degraded three quarters of all land and 40 percent of the oceans in just half a century.
Overall, the report, which tracks more than 4,000 vertebrate species, found that deforestation and increased construction over land were the main contributors which led to a 68 percent drop in populations between 1970 and 2016.
The study warned that the more wildlife populations decline, the more harmful it will be for humanity’s future.
One such issue will be the increase in zoonotic diseases – viruses which can be passed on from animals to humans, like COVID-19 – as we continue to encroach on their territory.
WWF International director general Marco Lambertini told AFP: “It’s an accelerating decrease that we’ve been monitoring for 30 years and it continues to go in the wrong direction.
“In 2016 we documented a 60 percent decline, now we have a 70 percent decline.
“All this is in a blink of an eye compared to the millions of years that many species have been living on the planet.”
According to the report, the last decade has been particularly bad for wildlife on our planet.
Up until 1970, humanity’s ecological footprint was smaller than what Earth was able to reproduce and regenerate natural resources.
Mr Lambertini said: “It is staggering. It is ultimately an indicator of our impact on the natural world.”
However, the WWF chief said people are now beginning to sit up and take notice.
He said: “From being sad about losing nature, people are beginning to actually get worried.
“We still have a moral duty to co-exist with life on the planet, but there’s now this new element of impact on our society, our economy and, of course, our health.”
Mr Lambertini said in the report: Nature is declining globally at rates unprecedented in millions of years.
“The way we produce and consume food and energy, and the blatant disregard for the environment entrenched in our current economic model, has pushed the natural world to its limits.
“COVID-19 is a clear manifestation of our broken relationship with nature, and highlights the deep interconnection between the health of both people and the planet.”