We're facing a biodiversity crisis, according to landmark UN study

What is the IPBES report?

IPBES stands for Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services. This UN organisation is tasked with taking our planet's pulse by assessing the global state of biodiversity. The 2019 study was prepared by 145 international experts and is the first comprehensive biodiversity study of its kind for 15 years. The message is clear: we're in trouble.

What’s the summary of the IPBES report?

The report concludes that we are facing a global biodiversity crisis, with up to one million species facing extinction. Human action is both the cause and the potential solution to the problem.

What’s the state of the world’s biodiversity in 2019?

According to the IPBES report, humans have impacted over 75% of Earth’s land areas and 66% of the oceans. Species extinction is “tens to hundreds of times higher than it has been, on average, over the last 10 million years,” according to the report. Plastic pollution is 10 times as bad as it was in 1980.

In other words: parts of the ocean have become almost completely lifeless. Grasslands have turned into deserts. Some tropical forests have fallen silent.

What are the causes of biodiversity loss?

All of the major causes of biodiversity loss are linked to human activity: land conversion, deforestation, overfishing, poaching, pollution and climate change all make it harder for diverse ecosystems to thrive.

Extractive industries and agriculture are putting particular pressure on our planet. “100 million hectares of tropical forest were lost from 1980 to 2000, resulting mainly from cattle ranching in Latin America (about 42 million hectares) and plantations in South-East Asia (about 7.5 million hectares, of which 80% is for palm oil),” the IPBES notes. Ecosia helps Indonesian communities move away from palm oil.

Why does biodiversity loss matter to humans?

Clean water, air, food security, energy, livelihoods, and human health all depend on healthy ecosystems.

This is because of so-called “ecosystem services”. Ecosystems absorb 60% of global fossil fuel emissions every year, and over 75% of global food crop types rely on animal pollination.

What are the solutions?

The IPBES report concludes that, in order to avoid further ecological damage, it is time to turn our focus away from blind economic growth. Instead, we need to understand that if nature collapses, the economy will soon follow suit.

Practically, the IPBES suggests that countries direct their subsidies away from environmentally destructive industries (such as parts of the energy, fishing and agricultural sectors) and towards funding nature reserves and reforestation projects in collaboration with indigenous people.

Ecosia’s 20 reforestation projects are located in biodiversity hotspots, defined as Earth’s biologically richest and most endangered terrestrial regions. This way, we can be sure that our trees have a significant impact on biodiversity.

Reforestation is vital for all of us: trees provide clean air and water, as well as energy, medicines and livelihoods to some of the world’s poorest communities.

Thank you for protecting biodiversity by planting trees with the Ecosia extension and the Ecosia app. Together, we can make a crucial difference.

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