Humans are transforming Earth’s natural landscapes so dramatically that as many as one million plant and animal species are now at risk of extinction. This poses a dire threat to ecosystems that people all over the world depend on for their survival, a sweeping new United Nations assessment has concluded.
The 1,500-page report, compiled by hundreds of international experts and based on thousands of scientific studies, is the most exhaustive look yet at the decline in biodiversity across the globe and the dangers that creates for human civilization.
A summary of its findings, which was approved by representatives from the United States and 131 other countries, was released 6 May. The full report is set to be published this year.
Its conclusions are stark. In most major land habitats, from the savannas of Africa to the rain forests of South America, the average abundance of native plant and animal life has fallen by 20 percent or more, mainly over the past century.
With the human population passing 7 billion, activities like farming, logging, poaching, fishing and mining are altering the natural world at a rate “unprecedented in human history.”
At the same time, a new threat has emerged: Global warming has become a major driver of wildlife decline, the assessment found, by shifting or shrinking the local climates that many mammals, birds, insects, fish and plants evolved to survive in.
When combined with the other ways humans are damaging the environment, climate change is now pushing a growing number of species closer to extinction.
Thames Estuary Partnership (TEP) has been working to help combat these threats for many years and much of our work is designed to improve habitats and enhance biodiversity, including:
Estuary Edges: Replacing concrete riverbanks with natural habitats to encourage wildlife on the Thames and restore fish stocks.
Fish Migration Map: Bringing together, for the first time, all the data needed to improve fish migration routes and habitat in the greater Thames estuary.
Greater Thames Marshes Improvement: Protecting and enhancing the biodiversity of the area and creating awareness of the importance of establishing nature improvement areas.
TEP is also an active member of the PLA’s Biodiversity Group.