Mass extinction imminent if action is not taken, warns study

An unprecedented and irrevocable collapse in global biodiversity is imminent without concerted action to reverse species loss in the tropics, a first-of-its-kind study has found.

Coral iStock

Led by researchers at Lancaster University, the study found that tropical forests, savannas, lakes and coral reefs are home to more than three-quarters of all species, despite covering just 40% of the planet.

However, a mass extinction is likely to take place in the tropics as a result of local human pressures – such as overfishing – and droughts or heatwaves linked to climate change.

This is also forecast to significantly impact humans, with 200 million people depending on coral reefs for fish resources and coastal protection, and agricultural regions relying on tropical forests for rainfall. 

The researchers have called for a step-change in efforts to support sustainable development, and effective conservation interventions to preserve and restore tropical habitats.

The study’s lead author, professor Jos Barlow, said: “50 years ago biologists expected to be the first to find a species, now they hope not to be the last.”

 

Image Credit | iStock

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