Levels of global biodiversity loss are no longer within the safe limit and this may negatively impact the ecosystem function and the sustainability of human societies, claims a new study.
According to the study, levels of biodiversity loss are so high that if left unchecked, they could undermine efforts towards long-term sustainable development.
‘Biodiversity hotspots are facing threat, showing a decline. Other high biodiversity areas, such as Amazonia, which have seen no land use change have higher levels of biodiversity and more scope for proactive conservation.’
"We know biodiversity loss affects ecosystem function but how it does this is not entirely clear. What we do know is that in many parts of the world, we are approaching a situation where human intervention might be needed to sustain ecosystem function," said Tim Newbold of the University College of London.
The researchers found that grasslands, savannas and shrublands were most affected by biodiversity loss, followed closely by many of the world's forests and woodlands. The ability of biodiversity in these areas to support key ecosystem functions such as growth of living organisms and nutrient cycling has become increasingly uncertain, suggested the study published in the journal Science.
For 58.1 percent of the world's land surface which is home to 71.4 percent of the global population, the level of biodiversity loss is substantial enough to question the ability of ecosystems to support human societies, revealed the study. "It's worrying that land use has already pushed biodiversity below the level proposed as a safe limit," said Andy Purvis, Professor at the Imperial College, London.
The team used data from hundreds of scientists to analyse 2.38 million records for 39,123 species at 18,659 sites which were then applied to estimate how biodiversity in every square kilometre land has changed since before humans modified the habitat.
They found that biodiversity hotspots are facing threat, showing a decline. Other high biodiversity areas, such as Amazonia, which have seen no land use change have higher levels of biodiversity and more scope for proactive conservation.