Living Planet Report says India an ecological 'black spot'
World Wildlife Fund's Living Planet (LP) Report 2016 states that wildlife is disappearing at an "unprecedented pace" all across the world. The report specifically singles out India as an "ecological black spot" where nearly half of wildlife is increasingly vulnerable and in danger of being wiped-out. The biennial report uses the 'Living Planet Index' to track populations of 14,000 vertebrates across 3,700 species worldwide.
Living Planet Index
The LP report uses the Living Planet Index that's provided by the 'Zoological Society of London'. The index is used to monitor trends in wildlife abundance; the index reports changes in size of wildlife populations rather than specific increase or decrease in number of animals.
Highlights of the report
Between 1970 - 2012, the LP Index showed an overall decline of 58% in vertebrate population. The LP Report goes on to state that there could be an expected decline of an average of 67% until 2020, attributed specifically to human activities. The decline that's already occurred has impacted fish, mammals, reptiles and amphibians. The data-analysis shows average annual decline to be 2%.
What's causing extinction of wildlife?
According to the LP report, increasing food production for human-population is destroying animal habitat as agriculture occupies one-third of the Earth's land and accounts for 70% of water use. Pollution of water resources is also a key contributing factor; 70% of surface water is already polluted and experts believe 60% of ground water will reach a 'critical stage' where replenishment won't be possible.
Marco Lambertini, Director general of WWF
"The richness and diversity of life on Earth is fundamental to the complex life-systems that underpin it. Life supports life itself and we're part of the same equation. Lose biodiversity and the natural world and life support systems, as we know them today, will collapse."
India's wildlife especially vulnerable
25% of Indian land faces prospects of desertification, while one-third has been gradually degrading due to depleting forest cover. The LP report observed that on an individual level Indians have a low carbon-footprint, cumulatively it was significant due to population size. This will continually increase as wealth grows and consumption increases. Currently, "India's carbon footprint makes up 53% of its overall Ecological Footprint."
Ecological footprint is the measure of human impact on environment. The WWF measures a country's ecological footprint by summing up cropland, grazing-land, forests, fishing grounds that are required to produce food, fibre, timber, absorption of wastes emitted and to provide space for infrastructure.