Every two years, WWF publishes The Living Planet Report, a science backed publication highlighting the state of the environment, with a particular focus on the impacts of human activity. As part of this, WWF have created the Living Planet Index (LPI), which over the last 50 years has analysed populations of mammals, birds, fish, reptiles and amphibians.
This year, the report focussed on the loss of wildlife populations in the last 50 years. Devastatingly, the report, which studied almost 32,000 species populations to determine this year's LPI, highlighted a 69% decrease in wildlife globally since 1970. The increased pressures of a growing human population on the environment have taken a huge toll on the wildlife and wild places. The report calls for drastic action to reverse this.
Planting new trees and protecting existing forests are two key strategies towards a healthier living planet. In Guinea, West Africa, a project is underway doing just this - engaging local communities in conservation and restoration, which is having positive impacts for people and nature alike.
A staggering 96% of Guinea’s original forest had been cleared by the 1990s and deforestation is still occurring today. However, there are still remnant patches of Tropical Important Plant Areas (TIPAs) present in Guinea and restoration efforts are underway to bring these forests back to life. A range of popular edible forest fruit and nut species popular in the diet of Guineans are being planted in the buffer zones of these forest patches, mixed in with other critically endangered forest plant seedlings. Together, these new seedlings are expanding forest areas and incentivising conservation, through the potential to increase incomes and provide nutrients to community members.
Working with communities to gain an understanding of cultures, priorities and local environmental knowledge is crucial in the fight against both climate change and biodiversity loss.
“The evidence is unequivocal – we are living through the dual crises of biodiversity loss and climate change driven by the unsustainable use of our planet’s resources. Scientists are clear, unless we stop treating these emergencies as two separate issues neither problem will be addressed effectively” – The Living Planet Report
While the Living Planet Report highlights the plight of a range of ecosystems and the negative consequences human activity has had on the world, it also lays out a path forward. The power of trees, as seen in the example in Guinea, among others, is central in the fight against these dual crises.
Read the full report here.