This week, the UN released its first comprehensive report on global biodiversity. The findings are alarming, stating that species loss is accelerating at a rate unprecedented in human history — potentially hundreds of times faster than in the past. The 39-page report summarizes drivers of biodiversity loss such as habitat fragmentation, deforestation and pollution. But the rapid, negative effects of climate change are the most dire threat.
The report also notes that not all ecosystems are under the same level of pressure. Some, like rainforests, harbor great biodiversity and an abundance of life. Hence, rainforest deforestation results in immense wildlife loss, more so than some other, less diverse ecosystems. In addition, primary rainforests are the most critical ecosystem for carbon storage — keeping carbon out of the atmosphere — which mitigates the effects of climate change. If rainforest degradation continues at this speed, it will likely result in the extinction of a great number of species. Some of these species will go extinct within mere decades.
Scientists are calling for immediate action. “For a long time, people just thought of biodiversity as saving nature for its own sake,” said Robert Watson, chair of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, the consortium of scientists that lead the study. “But this report makes clear the links between biodiversity and nature and things like food security and clean water in both rich and poor countries.”
The UN Sustainable Development Goals promote merging both ecological and socioeconomic sustainability, a strategy that Rainforest Trust embraces. Our work preserves the world’s most threatened rainforests and species through collaboration with local partners. We recognize that protecting habitat in perpetuity requires the investment of communities whose livelihoods depends on the rainforest. To date, Rainforest Trust has protected over 20 million acres through these local partnerships.
Learn how you can contribute to global biodiversity protection with Rainforest Trust here.
Header image: Deforestation is a leading cause of global biodiversity loss. Photo by Rainforest Trust.