RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Every day, billions of people depend on wildlife for food, medicine and energy. But a new United Nations-backed report says overharvesting, climate change, pollution and deforestation are pushing a million species toward extinction.
The report by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, or IPBES, said on Friday that unless humanity improves the sustainable use of nature, the Earth is on track to lose 12% of its its species of wild trees, more than a thousand species of wild mammals. and almost 450 species of sharks and rays, among other irreparable damage.
Humans use about 50,000 wild species routinely and 1 in 5 people of the world’s population of 7.9 billion depend on those species for food and income, according to the report. 1 in 3 people depend on firewood for cooking, the number is even higher in Africa.
“It is essential that those uses are sustainable because you need them to be there for your children and grandchildren. So when uses of wildlife become unsustainable, it’s bad for the species, it’s bad for the ecosystem, and it’s bad for people,” report co-chair Marla R. Emery of the United States told The Associated Press. .
Beyond the grim picture, the report also provides recommendations for policymakers and examples for the sustainable use of wildlife. A central point should be to secure the tenure rights of indigenous and local peoples, who have historically made sustainable use of wild species, according to the report.
According to the study, indigenous peoples occupy about 38,000,000 square kilometers (14,600,000 square miles) of land in 87 countries, which is equivalent to about 40% of the terrestrial conserved areas.
“Their lands tend to be better in sustainability than other lands. And the common thread is the ability to continue to engage in traditional practices,” said Emery, who is also a researcher with the US Forest Service.
Emery argued that it is essential to ensure national and international systems, such as education, that promote the preservation of indigenous languages, as it maintains the ability of older members to transfer traditional knowledge on sustainable practices to new generations.
An example of good practice is fishing for arapaima, one of the world’s largest freshwater fish, in the Brazilian Amazon, report co-chair Jean-Marc Fromentin of France told the AP.
“It was a change from an unsustainable situation to a sustainable one,” Fromentin said. “Some communities in Brazil created community-based management and then called in some scientists to learn more about the biology of the fish and put in place an efficient monitoring system. It worked so well that the model reached other communities and countries like Peru.“
Gregorio Mirabal, head of the Coordinator of Indigenous Organizations of the Amazon Basin, who was not involved in the report, told the AP that several UN studies had already been carried out that emphasize the importance of biodiversity and the threats posed by the climate change, but that does not bring solutions.
The indigenous leader mentioned growing problems in the region, such as water contamination from mercury used in illegal mining and oil spills. In addition, those who oppose these practices face violence, such as the recent murder of an indigenous warrior in a mining area in Venezuela.
“There is irrational exploitation of natural resources in the Amazon, but there is no social investment to improve the health, educational, cultural and food situation of indigenous peoples,” said Mirabal.
The report was approved by representatives of the 139 member countries meeting this week in Bonn, Germany. It involved dozens of experts, from scientists to indigenous knowledge holders. IPBES is an independent intergovernmental body and is not part of the UN system, but is supported by the United Nations Environment Program and other agencies.
Associated Press climate and environment coverage is supported by several private foundations. See more about the AP climate initiative here. The AP is solely responsible for all content.
JOIN THE CONVERSATION