Living Planet Report 2020

The world is steadily losing its vertebrate population due to enormous changes in land use patterns, according to the Living Planet Report 2020 published on September 10. The Asia Pacific region lost 45 per cent of its vertebrate population in four-and-half decades, while the global average is 68 per cent.

  • The biennial report, prepared jointly by World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and Zoological Society of London, is based on the global dataset analysed between 1970 and 2016.
  • India has lost 12 per cent of its wild mammals, 19 per cent amphibians and 3 per cent birds over last five decades.
  • Out of about 1.02 lakh animal species, as found in India till December 2019, about 6,800 are vertebrates. Among these, nearly 550 fall in critically endangered, endangered and vulnerable categories.
  • The vertebrate population has been declining at a rate of about 60 per cent in India, a figure close to global benchmark.
  • India has 2.4 per cent global land share, about eight per cent global biodiversity and around 16 per cent global population; there is little doubt that there is enormous human footprint, which in turn is affecting the biodiversity.
  • India’s ecological footprint per person to be less than 1.6 global hectares (gha) / person (smaller than that of many large countries), its high population size have made the gross footprint significantly high.
  • According to the National Footprints Accounts (2014), India has a bio-capacity of approximately 0.45 gha per person, which means it is a ‘bio-capacity debtor’ or an ‘ecologically deficit country’ with a 148 per cent more demand than supply on its natural resources,” explained the factsheet.
  • In Asia Pacific region including India, habitat loss was the biggest trigger followed by species overexploitation and invasive species and disease. At the same time, the role of pollution and climate change was proportionately higher at 16 per cent.
  • The WWF India factsheet also put up data to highlight how forest land has been diverted and has been affecting biodiversity. It pointed that “in the first six months of 2019, of the 240 proposals seeking diversion of forest land, 98.99 per cent of forest land considered for diversion was allowed to be put to non-forestry uses”.

The report pointed out five major reasons behind the biodiversity loss across the planet, including changes in land and sea use (habitat loss and degradation), overexploitation of species, invasive species and disease, pollution and climate change.