RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Every day, billions of people depend on wild flora and fauna for food, medicine and energy. But a new United Nations-backed report says overexploitation, climate change, pollution and deforestation are driving a million species to extinction.
The report by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services — or IPBES — said Friday that the earth is on track to lose 12% of its wild tree species, over a thousand wild mammal species, if humanity encourages sustainable use of the Nature does not improve and almost 450 species of sharks and rays, among other irreparable damage.
Humans routinely use about 50,000 wild species, and one in five of the world’s 7.9 billion people depend on these species for food and income, the report said. 1 in 3 people rely on firewood for cooking, and the number is even higher in Africa.
“It’s important that these uses are sustainable because you need them to be there for your children and grandchildren. So when wild species use becomes unsustainable, it’s bad for the species, the ecosystem and people,” Marla R. Emery, the report’s vice chair, told The Associated Press.
Beyond the bleak picture, the report also provides recommendations for policymakers and examples for the sustainable use of wildlife. A key issue should be securing property rights for indigenous and local peoples who have historically used wild species sustainably, the report says.
According to the study, indigenous peoples occupy around 38,000,000 square kilometers (14,600,000 sq mi) of land in 87 countries, which is about 40% of terrestrial protected areas.
“Their lands tend to do better than other lands in terms of sustainability. And the common thread is the ability to continue to engage in common practices,” said Emery, who is also a researcher with the US Forest Service.
Emery argued that it is important to secure national and international systems, such as education, that encourage the preservation of indigenous languages, as it gives older members the opportunity to transmit traditional knowledge about sustainable practices to new generations.
One example of good practice is fishing for arapaima, one of the world’s largest freshwater fish, in the Brazilian Amazon, Jean-Marc Fromentin, the report’s co-chair, told AP.
“It was a step from an unsustainable to a sustainable situation,” Fromentin said. “Some communities in Brazil created community-based management and then called some scientists to learn more about the biology of the fish and set up an efficient monitoring system. It worked so well that the model spread to other communities and countries like Peru.”
Gregorio Mirabal, the head of the coordinator of the Amazon Basin’s indigenous organizations, who did not take part in the report, told the AP that there have already been several UN studies that emphasized the importance of biodiversity and the threats of climate change, but they did not bring about solutions.
The indigenous leader mentioned growing problems in the region, such as water pollution from mercury used in illegal mining and oil spills. In addition, those who oppose these practices face violence, such as B. the recent killing of an indigenous warrior in a mining area in Venezuela.
“There is an irrational exploitation of natural resources in the Amazon, but there is no social investment to improve the health, education, culture and nutrition of indigenous peoples,” Mirabal said.
The report was approved by representatives of the 139 member countries who met this week in Bonn, Germany. It involved dozens of experts, from scientists to holders of indigenous knowledge. IPBES is an independent intergovernmental body and is not part of the UN system, but is supported by the United Nations Environment Program and other bodies.
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