Overexploitation threatens the wildlife on which billions of people around the world depend.

Overexploitation threatens the wildlife on which billions of people around the world depend.

A large group of leading international biodiversity experts issued a warning on Friday about the need for humans to make sustainable use of wildlife. This type of management is as convenient for these species, which would see the risk of extinction reduced, as it is for humans. Because billions of people around the world, both in developed and developing countries, daily benefit from these animals, plants, fungi and algae to obtain food, energy, materials and medicines. A few examples: one in five people depends on it for food or income, and for one in three, wood is essential for cooking. Both data are collected in the report prepared by the Intergovernmental Science and Regulatory Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (Ipbes, its acronym in English).

This organization, of which 139 countries are members, was created in 2012 and is inspired by the work carried out by the IPCC (the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) since 1990, but in its case the work focuses on the biodiversity. The IPBES report presented this Friday is the result of four years of work by 85 international experts and focuses on the sustainable use of wild species, those that have not been domesticated and can survive independently of intervention. human. The final summary, where this large radiograph is condensed, was approved by the representatives of these 139 countries during a meeting in Bonn (Germany).

This observation cannot be abstracted from the general context of extinction in which the planet is entering, largely due to the action of man: one million of the eight animal and plant species on Earth are endangered in this moment. It is also a serious problem for humans, as evidenced by this latest IPBES study. Because around 50,000 wild species are used worldwide for food, energy, medicine, materials or other purposes. Of this total, in at least 34% of cases a “sustainable” use is made.

The problem is when that doesn’t happen, which puts those animals and plants at risk. “Overexploitation has been identified as the number one threat to wildlife in marine ecosystems and the second biggest threat to terrestrial and freshwater ecosystems,” the report said. Thus, “addressing the causes of unsustainable use and reversing the trend will result in better outcomes for these wildlife species,” he adds.

nuisance fishing

“The use of wild species takes place in the context of significant declines in populations and ranges,” he warns. 34% of wild marine fish populations are overexploited, concludes IPBES. There are some really bloody cases, like sharks and rays, that were pushed to the limit. Of the 1,199 species of these animals that have been analyzed, 449—37.5%—are threatened by unsustainable fishing. To understand its “drastic” decline, you have to know that 99% of the catches of sharks and rays have been officially declared accidental, although they are then used as food due to their high value. This excludes it from management plans.

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Uncontrolled and unsustainable hunting is also a problem: “It has been identified as a threat to 1,341 species of wild mammals.” The same goes for plants: “It is estimated that 12% of wild tree species are threatened by unsustainable logging. Additionally, over the past 40 years, “the global wildlife trade has increased dramatically.” It has also led to an increase in illicit trade, which amounts to between $69,000 and $199,000 million annually. The largest volume of this illicit traffic is concentrated in timber and fish.

“Overexploitation is one of the main threats to the survival of many terrestrial and aquatic wildlife species,” said John Donaldson, one of the report’s coordinators, on Friday. “Tackling the causes of unsustainable use and, where possible, reversing these trends, will yield positive results for wildlife and the people who depend on them,” he added.

Although this is a global problem, again, those who have the least suffer the most. “Rural populations in developing countries are most at risk due to unsustainable use, as the lack of complementary alternatives usually forces them to continue exploiting already threatened wildlife,” Jean-Marc explained in a statement. Mark. . “70% of the world’s poor depend on wild species”, explains this expert. This does not mean that they are essential only in developing countries. “From the fish we eat to medicines, cosmetics, decorative items and recreational activities, the use of wildlife is more common than most realize,” concludes Fromentin.

The authors of the report attempt to project what will happen in the future. And they warn of certain factors that can increase stress and aggravate the reduction in the abundance of species and the changes in their spatial distributions that are already observed. These factors include changes in the landscape, climate change, pollution and invasive alien species. To avoid the most pessimistic scenarios, specific policies are indicated. In the case of fishing, for example, it is proposed to reduce pernicious subsidies, to support artisanal fishing or to adapt to changes in ocean productivity due to global warming. With regard to logging, forest certification or technological innovations are advocated to reduce waste in the manufacture of wood products. The authors point out that if sustainable management measures are applied, good results can be obtained. As has happened with the recovery of the Atlantic bluefin tuna population, which is now being fished “at sustainable levels”.

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