UN report says we are living beyond our planet’s means

Monday, 29 October, 2007
South Yarmouth, MA
According to the United Nations Environmental Program flagship report, Global Environment Outlook, the world’s population is devouring the planet’s resources at rates well beyond capacity. This report lends additional credence to wildlife protection initiatives by organizations such as the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW - www.ifaw.org) to confront the swelling tide of species and biodiversity loss. The report is a validation of what conservation organizations have been saying all along: that the loss of biodiversity is detrimental to human development, livelihoods and public health.
According to the report, the world is now being confronted with a persistent and combined environmental, development and energy crisis that acknowledges the importance of extinction rates and biodiversity on humanity’s very prospects for survival.  Current documented rates of extinction are roughly 100 times higher than rates indicated in fossil records, and the UNEP report suggests that extinction rates may increase up to 10,000 times the base rate over the coming decades.
“The conclusions in the UN report further reinforce the findings of local, regional and international investigations,” says Joth Singh, Director of IFAW’s Wildlife and Habitat Protection Program. “We need to encourage individuals, civil society, the private sector and governments to now do their part by working to ensure that the habitats upon which wildlife depends are secure and viable and that commercial exploitation of wildlife is eliminated. There is no more time for complacency.”
According to the UN report, of the mere ten per cent of species that have been assessed to determine their conservation status, more than 16,000 species have been identified as under threat of extinction. The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna (CITES), the UN-backed treaty charged with protecting wildlife from over-exploitation, recognizes just 827 species and 52 sub species.
Peter Pueschel, Program Manager for IFAW’s Wildlife Trade Program adds, "The capture and killing of wildlife for trade is one of the biggest threats to thousands of species around the globe, species which are the natural world’s custodians of healthy ecosystems. In light of the UN’s recognition that our planet is in peril, CITES must resist a decades-long trend of bureaucratic assessments and discussions before a species may find protection and instead move to a precautionary approach to the planet’s vulnerable wildlife. We must ban all wildlife trade except in those species where sufficient evidence guaranties no harm to the species or their habitats.  Only serious action will safeguard our livelihoods and the future of our children.”
IFAW is committed to activities that encourage governments and international conventions to adopt ecologically sustainable, conservation-minded decisions when addressing social, economic and cultural policies.  IFAW believes that officials must be empowered to enforce existing conservation and animal protection laws, and that consumers must be made aware of the impact that their wildlife purchases have on the future of animals, people and the planet.

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