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31 Jan, 2023
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1 Million+ Species At Risk of Extinction, Suggests IPBES Reports

Recently, the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) revealed its studies. The reports suggests that the accelerating global biodiversity crisis will soon result in the extinction of over a million species of plants and animals both on terrestrial and aquatic life. 

According to reports, humans depend on 50,000 wild species for their survival. These include food, energy, medicine, material, and other necessities. Among these species, around 10,000 species directly fulfil the food needs of humans and over-exploitation of these species is disrupting the balance of life on earth.

Also Read: Clean Your Closet By Opting For Sustainable Fashion 

How Experts Prepare IPBES Assessment Report?

Experts prepare the IPBES Assessment Report on the Sustainable Use of Wildlife Species in around four years. During this tenure, 85 leading experts from the natural and social sciences, who are holders of indigenous and local knowledge, and over 200 contributing authors work on more than 6,200 sources to find traces of biodiversity loss over recent times. The summarized version of their efforts was recently approved by representatives of the 139 member states of IPBES in Bonn, Germany.

What Is IPBES?

The Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) is an independent intergovernmental body. States have established this body to strengthen the science-policy interface for biodiversity and ecosystem services to conserve and sustain the use of biodiversity for long-term humans well-being and sustainable development. 

IPBES was established in Panama City, on April 21, 2012, by 94 countries across the world. India is also a member of this body from the time of its inception. Even though this body does not relate directly to the United Nations, it got its authorization from the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) in 2013, as UNEP allowed its secretariat services to IPBES in that year.

How Does Wildlife Fulfill Human Needs?

Since the inception of life on this planet, humans have interacted both directly and indirectly to their surroundings for their survival. It is because surrounding region constitutes wild plants, algae, and fungi, which are the main sources of food for humans. These nutritional diversities fulfil the energy requirements and provide a source of income to one in five people worldwide. 

According to statistics, around 2.4 billion people (one-third population) of the globe directly rely on fuel wood for cooking and an estimated 880 million population log firewood or produce charcoal, especially in developing nations. Wild trees also fulfil the two-thirds requirement of industrial round wood and half of the wood requirement for energy generation.

Sections of society that depend upon wildlife for survival involve women, children, and landless farmers. These particular sections trade in things which are necessary for food and aromatics industries. These involve wild plants, algae and fungi for food, medicine, hygiene, energy, and ornaments. Due to the rising population on earth, the demand for these items has increased exponentially. The surge in demand has became the sole cause behind wildlife extinction.

The report says: “People in vulnerable situations are often most reliant on wild species and are most likely to benefit from more sustainable forms of use of wild species to secure their livelihoods. An estimated 70% of the world’s poor depend directly on wild species and on businesses fostered by them”. 

Humans’ Relation With Aquatic Habitat

According to the study reflecting the global biodiversity crisis, people directly use about 7,500 species of wild fish and aquatic invertebrates. The population of invertebrates involve 31,100 wild plants, including 7,400 species of trees, 1,500 species of fungi, 1,700 species of wild terrestrial invertebrates, and 7,500 species of wild amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals.

Fisheries constitute a major source of food from wild species. The annual harvest of the fishery industry in recent decades has exceeded 90 million tonnes. Out of the total harvest, about 60 million tonnes directly goes to human consumption and the rest as feed for aquaculture and livestock. 

Small-scale fisheries provide a livelihood to over 90% of the 120 million population relying on the agriculture sector. The amazing fact about this population is the sex ratio of engaged workers. 50% of the working population in the fisheries industry involve female workers. According to published reports, countries where sustainable fishing is in active practice have shown a gradual increase in their fishing stocks over the past few decades. 

Which Threats are Highlighted in the IPBES Reports?

According to published reports, over-exploitation of natural resources has been identified as the main threat to species adapted to both terrestrial and aquatic life. 

What is the meaning of over-exploitation? It is a practice of unsustainable fishing in the aquatic life and unsustainable hunting in the terrestrial life.

Due to the over-exploitation of aquatic life, the population of sharks and rays have decreased greatly over the past half-century. Similarly, the exploitation of terrestrial resources has been identified as a threat to 1,341 wild mammal species, including 669 species which are near to extinction.

The Global biodiversity crisireport also highlighted that an estimated 12% of wild tree species are threatened due to unsustainable logging and gathering poses a significant threat to several plant groups, notably cacti, cycads, orchids, along with other plants and fungi harvested for medicinal purposes. 

The report added: “The overall, unsustainable harvest contributes towards elevated extinction risk for 28-29% of near-threatened and threatened species from 10 taxonomic groups assessed on the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List of Threatened Species,” 

Significance of IPBES Reports For India

India is a developing nation whose economy is mainly dependent on its agriculture sector. Recently published reports suggests that developing nations are exploiting species more than  developed nations. If governments from different parts of the world come out with policies to restrict the consumption of agricultural resources, it can open up new opportunities for the agriculture sector of the country. 

It is true that agriculture scientists are regularly working to find possible alternatives to regulate agricultural practices, but their implementation will take time to reflect their effects at the ground level. Readers can better relate to India’s recent decisions to minimize the country’s dependence on fossil fuels. The positive effects of which will surface in the upcoming times. Until then, there is no alternative other than waiting for positive changes.

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