A Million Species Threatened with Extinction, Humanity in Peril, Says Report


Fadekemi Ajakaiye

The Nigerian Conservation Foundation (NCF) has called on the Federal Government and all Nigerians to rise up and tackle environmental challenges headlong to avoid the nation running into catastrophe.

According to a statement by the Director General, NCF, Dr. Muhtari Aminu-Kano, the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) recently released a statement titled “Nature’s Dangerous Decline ‘Unprecedented’
Species Extinction Rates ‘Accelerating’” revealed that Nature is declining globally at an unprecedented rate in human history and the scale of species extinctions has grave impacts on people around the world.

IPBES is an independent intergovernmental body comprising more than 130 member Governments. Established by Governments in 2012, it provides policy makers with objective scientific assessments about the state of knowledge regarding of the planet’s biodiversity, ecosystems and their contributions to people. It’s often described as the “IPCC for biodiversity”.

Some of the findings in the IPBES report are:

· Around one million animal and plant species are now threatened with extinction.

· The average abundance of native species in most major land-based habitats has fallen by at least 20%, mostly since 1900. More than 40% of amphibian species, almost 33% of reef forming corals and more than a third of all marine mammals are threatened. An estimated, 10% of insect species are being threatened. At least 680 vertebrate species had been driven to extinction. More than 9% of all domesticated breeds of mammals used for food and agriculture had become extinct by 2016, with at least 1,000 more breeds still threatened.

· “Ecosystems, species, wild populations, local varieties and breeds of domesticated plants and animals are shrinking, deteriorating or vanishing. The essential, interconnected web of life on Earth is getting smaller and increasingly frayed.

· Three-quarters of the land-based environment and about 66% of the marine environment have been significantly altered by human actions. On average these trends have been less severe or avoided in areas held or managed by Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities.

· More than a third of the world’s land surface and nearly 75% of freshwater resources are now devoted to crop or livestock production.

· The value of agricultural crop production has increased by about 300% since 1970, raw timber harvest has risen by 45% and approximately 60 billion tons of renewable and nonrenewable resources are now extracted globally every year – having nearly doubled since 1980.

· Land degradation has reduced the productivity of 23% of the global land surface, up to US$577 billion in annual global crops are at risk from pollinator loss and 100-300 million people are at increased risk of floods and hurricanes because of loss of coastal habitats and protection.

· In 2015, 33% of marine fish stocks were being harvested at unsustainable levels; 60% were maximally sustainably fished, with just 7% harvested at levels lower than what can be sustainably fished.

· Urban areas have more than doubled since 1992.

· Plastic pollution has increased tenfold since 1980, 300-400 million tons of heavy metals, solvents, toxic sludge and other wastes from industrial facilities are dumped annually into the world’s waters, and fertilizers entering coastal ecosystems have produced more than 400 ocean ‘dead zones’.

· Negative trends in nature will continue to 2050 and beyond in all of the policy scenarios explored in the Report, except those that include transformative change – due to the projected impacts of increasing land-use change, exploitation of organisms and climate change, although with significant differences between regions.

The report, though global in nature, mirrors the situation in Nigeria in most respects. For instance at the moment, the nation has lost more than 90% of her forest to degradation, urbanisation, exploitation etc. Little or nothing is being done to restore it back to, at least, 25% recommended by Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).

Thisday and Guardian newspapers earlier this year, exposed the sorry state of our environment through their editorials. Despite this and many other media outcry for the Federal and State Governments to take drastic steps and salvage the nation, attention has been on political affairs.

In an effort to document the situation in the country, the Nigerian Conservation Foundation in partnership with the University of Jos, through A. P. Leventis Ornithological Institutes (APLORI) is conducting a survey, using birds as indicator to determine the state of the Nigerian environment. The report of this study will be published in the third quarter of this year.

If we as people commit ourselves to restoring the environment, preserving it for future by living sustainably, and implementing all the recommendations put forward to all levels of governments and everyone begins to live sustainably, we stand a chance of reversing the trend and avoiding the disaster predicted by these studies.