Report says disappearing life threatens biodiversity

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Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Golden Toad from Costa Rica, not seen since 1989, is declared extinct.

A global review of threatened species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) indicates drastic decline of animal and plant life. This includes a quarter of all mammals, one out of eight birds, one out of three amphibians and 70 percent of plants.

The report, Red List of Threatened Species, is published by IUCN every year. Additionally a global assessment of the health of the world's species is released once in four years. The data is compiled by 1,700 experts in 130 countries.

The key findings of the report were announced today at the World Conservation Congress being held in Barcelona, Spain. The congress, held every four years, will deliberate over the next 10 days actions required to slow the rate of species extinction.

The survey includes 44,838 species of wild fauna and flora, out of which 16,928 species are threatened with extinction. Among the threatened, 3,246 are tagged critically endangered, the highest category of threat. Another 4,770 species are endangered and 8,912 vulnerable to extinction.

Cquote1.svg Our results paint a bleak picture of the global status of mammals worldwide. We estimate that one in four species is threatened with extinction and that the population of one in two is declining. Cquote2.svg

—Jan Schipper and co-authors of the mammalian study.

The latest review includes a survey covering all 5,487 mammal species, out of which 1,141 are considered threatened with extinction. The study notes 79 percent of primate species in South and Southeast Asia are threatened with extinction. This companion study on mammals is being published this week in the journal Science.

"Our results paint a bleak picture of the global status of mammals worldwide," Jan Schipper, lead author and his co-authors said in the mammalian study. "We estimate that one in four species is threatened with extinction and that the population of one in two is declining."

However there is some cheer for the conservationists. It is revealed that 5% of the currently threatened species are recovering, including the European bison and black-footed ferret.

"We are now emerging from the Dark Ages of conservation knowledge, when we relied on data from a highly restricted subset of species," says Jonathan Baillie, director of conservation programmes at the Zoological Society of London. "We will expand the scope further to include a far broader range of groups, thus informing and assisting policy-makers in a hugely more objective and representative manner."


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