Research Highlight

Models show how the world can reverse biodiversity losses by 2050

doi:10.1038/nindia.2020.140 Published online 11 September 2020

© Matthew Henry/Burst

The World Wildlife Fund’s Living Planet Report 2020 reveals that two-thirds of wildlife populations have declined since 1970. Habitat conversion due to human activities such as hunting, fishing, agriculture, urban development, pollution and climate change has caused 68 per cent decline in global vertebrate species between 1970 and 2016.

Such declines in terrestrial biodiversity from habitat conversion could be reversed by adopting a combination of bold conservation methods and increases in the sustainability of the food system, a modelling study reveals1.

An international research team, including a scientist from the Indian Institute of Technology in Kanpur, India, has devised land-use and biodiversity models that show how humans can reverse the losses in terrestrial biodiversity.

With the help of models, the researchers show that a bold conservation plan is important to halt biodiversity declines and to place ecosystems on a recovery path.

It is possible to avoid more than two-thirds of future biodiversity losses by 2050 if humans resort to sustainable trade, reduce food waste and switch to more plant-based diets, they report. The research shows that implementing these measures together, rather than in isolation, will allow the world to alleviate pressures on wildlife habitats more rapidly.

However, the models indicate that if the world carries on with “business as usual”, rates of biodiversity loss seen since 1970 will continue over the coming years.


References

1. Leclere, D. et al. Bending the curve of terrestrial biodiversity needs an integrated strategy. Nature.(2020) doi: 10.1038/s41586-020-2705-y