Recent studies suggest that ambitious global targets aimed at halting nature’s decline may not be achievable, as the impacts of climate change and habitat loss on animal populations have been underestimated.
Avoiding extinctions may take longer than previously thought, emphasizing the urgent need for immediate action to prevent global biodiversity targets from becoming unattainable.
In December, some 200 countries pledged to end nature’s decline by the end of the decade. They set ambitious targets to halt biodiversity loss and conserve 30% of land and oceans by 2030.
Urgent action needed to preserve biodiversity
Recent research suggests that global targets set to halt nature’s decline may be even more difficult to achieve than previously thought.
Dr Robert Freeman of the London Institute of Zoology said that the analysis highlights the need for more urgent and comprehensive action to achieve these goals.
Published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B, the study looked at trends in the populations of more than 600 different species of birds and mammals.
The findings indicate that previous modelling efforts did not fully account for delays of several decades before the impacts of factors such as climate change and habitat loss take effect. This implies that the world may be closer to a biodiversity loss precipice than initially believed.
Dr. Freeman explained that delayed effects of up to 40 years have been observed in large mammals and birds, suggesting that delaying action would only prolong the time it takes to see any type of response. However, the research also suggests that immediate action on issues such as unsustainable hunting and over-exploitation of natural resources can bring immediate and far-reaching benefits.
Extinction crisis demands urgent action
More plant and animal populations are facing extinction today than at any other time in human history. To address this crisis, 188 governments, including the UK, signed a landmark agreement in December to commit to global targets by 2030. These targets include halving global food waste and phasing out subsidies that negatively impact biodiversity.
The study underlines the urgency of the situation and the need for rapid and comprehensive action to preserve the planet’s biodiversity and ensure the health of our ecosystems for future generations.
Climate change threatens wildlife populations
Another study, published in the journal Nature, analyzed the distribution and habitat of 31,000 land-based species and modeled the potential effects of different levels of climate change on their survival.
The findngs revealed that, without significant action to mitigate climate change, many species could lose large portions of their suitable habitat, with some facing extinction.
According to the study, the impact of climate change on wildlife is particularly severe in areas that are already experiencing high levels of biodiversity, such as the tropics.
The researchers found that up to 40% of species in these regions could face a heightened risk of extinction due to the loss of their habitat, with amphibians and reptiles being particularly vulnerable.
The study’s lead author, Rachel Warren, a professor at the University of East Anglia in the UK, stated, “The research clearly shows that without urgent action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, ecosystems around the world will collapse, with species disappearing from regions where they have been prevalent for millions of years.”
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