The Earth’s ongoing nature losses
may soon begin to hit national economies, a major UN report has warned.
The third Global Biodiversity
Outlook (GBO-3) says that some ecosystems may soon reach “tipping points”
where they rapidly become less useful to humanity.
Such tipping points could include
rapid dieback of forest, algal takeover of watercourses and mass coral reef
Last month, scientists confirmed
that governments would not meet their target of curbing biodiversity loss by
The news is not good,” said
Ahmed Djoglaf, executive secretary of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity
“We continue to lose
biodiversity at a rate never before seen in history – extinction rates may be
up to 1,000 times higher than the historical background rate.”
The global abundance of vertebrates
– the group that includes mammals, reptiles, birds, amphibians and fish – fell
by about one-third between 1970 and 2006, the UN says.
The 2010 target of significantly
curbing the global rate of biodiversity loss was agreed at the Johannesburg
summit in 2002.
It has been clear for a while that
it would not be met.
But GBO-3 concludes that none of
the 21 subsidiary targets set at the same time are being met either, at least
not on a global basis.
These include measures such as
curbing the rate of habitat loss and degradation, protecting at least 10 per
cent of the Earth’s ecological regions, controlling the spread of invasive species
and making sure that international trade does not take any species towards
“Twenty-one per cent of all
known mammals, 30 per cent of all known amphibians, 12 per cent of all known
birds (and)… 27 per cent of reef-building corals assessed… are threatened
with extinction,” said Bill Jackson, deputy director general of the
International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), which maintains the