Why are wild species important? Most of us will never gather wild plants, burn wood for fuel, or fish for our daily meal in our lifetime. We rarely foraged for wild mushrooms, and most of us didn’t hunt for food, choosing instead to buy animal-based protein from a grocer.
So why should we support the regulation of the sustainable use of wild species such as plants, animals, fungi and algae around the world?
50,000 wild species are at risk, therefore.
With millions of plant and animal species at risk of extinction, the global biodiversity crisis threatens countless contributions to humans.
The truth hidden from many Westerners is that billions of people benefit from the use of wild species every day for food, energy, materials, medicine, recreation, inspiration and many other vital aspects of human well-being. One in five people comes and uses uncultivated varieties for food. About 10,000 wild species are harvested for human consumption. 2.4 billion people (1 in 3) depend on wood for cooking.
A new report by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) identifies 5 broad categories of practices in the use of wild species:
- collection of terrestrial animals (including hunting); and,
- non-extractive practices.
The report identifies drivers such as:
- land and seascape changes;
- climate change;
- pollution; and,
- invasive alien species.
All of these factors can affect the abundance and distribution of wild species and increase stress and hardship among the human communities that use them. Without effective regulation across supply chains – from local to global – global trade generally increases pressures on such living species, leading to unsustainable exploitation and sometimes the collapse of wild populations – think of the shark fin trade.
For each practice, the Report examines specific uses such as food and feed; materials; medicine, energy; rest; ceremony; and learning and decoration. It provides a detailed analysis of each of the trends over the past 20 years. In most cases, their use has increased, but the persistence of use has varied, for example in collecting medicine and access to materials and energy.
Overexploitation is one of the main threats to the survival of many terrestrial and aquatic species in the wild. Addressing the causes of unsustainable use and reversing these trends where possible will result in better outcomes for nature and the people who depend on them.
Global Trade Creates Opportunities and Risks
Global trade in wildlife has expanded significantly in volume, value and trade networks over the past 4 decades.
The use of biologically diverse plants and animals is an important source of income for millions of people around the world. Wild trees account for two-thirds of the global industrial area. The trade in wild plants, algae and fungi is a billion dollar industry. Even indigenous non-mining uses are big business.
Still, while trade in unmanaged wilderness can provide important income for exporting countries, offer higher returns for harvesters, and diversify sources of supply to allow pressure to be diverted from sustainably exploited species, it also dislocates the consumption of wild species. origin.
Indigenous peoples manage fishing, harvesting, terrestrial animal gathering and other uses of wildlife on more than 38 million km2 in 87 countries, equivalent to about 40% of terrestrial protected areas. The report notes that policies that support secure property rights and equitable access to land, fisheries and forests, as well as poverty reduction, are enabling the sustainable use of wild species around the world.
By the Numbers: Key Statistics and Facts from the Report
- +/- 50,000: Wild species used globally for food, energy, medicine, materials, and other purposes through fishing, gathering, logging, and collecting terrestrial animals.
- At least 34%: Species that are is used continuously – Based on evaluation of 10,098 species from 10 taxonomic groups in the IUCN Red List.
- +/-7,500: Species of wild fish and aquatic invertebrates directly used by people the whole world; 31,100 species of wild plants, 7,400 of which are trees; 1500 types of mushrooms; 7,400 species of wild trees; 1,700 species of wild terrestrial invertebrates; and 7,500 species of wild amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals.
- >10,000: wild species harvested for human foodsustainable use of wild species important for food security and improving nutrition in rural and urban areas worldwide.
+/-70%: from the poor of the world depends directly on the wild species and the businesses that grow them.
- 8 billion: Annual visitors Before the COVID-19 pandemic, protected areas worldwide generated $600 billion in annual revenue, with the highest levels of tourist visitors in species-rich countries.
- 38 million: km² of land in 87 countries where indigenous peoples manage fishing, harvesting, terrestrial animal collection and other uses of wildlife (overlaps with +/-40% of protected areas on land, including many areas of high biodiversity value).
- 15: Number of Sustainable Development Goals The sustainable use of wild species has an unrealized potential to contribute to the achievement of the targets.
- >90%: out of 120 million people who are engaged in fishing supported by small-scale fisheries globally, about half of them are women.
- 34%: Marine wild fish stocks overfished (66% are fished at biologically sustainable levels, but this global picture shows strong heterogeneity).
- 90 million: Tons of wild fish caught annually in recent decades, about two-thirds of which goes to human consumption (and the rest as feed for aquaculture and livestock).
- 99%: Shark and ray species officially declared taken by accident Since the 1970s, shark species have been hunted, but valuable and often kept for food, leading to drastic declines, particularly in tropical and subtropical coastal shelf waters.
- 449: Types of sharks and rays classified as a threat (37.5% of the 1,199 species recently assessed), mostly due to unsustainable fishing.
Policies and Tools to Promote Sustainable Use
As part of its analysis, the Report examines the policies and instruments used in different contexts. Here are 7 key elements that can be used as levers for change to promote sustainable use of wildlife when scaled up across practices, regions and sectors:
- Inclusive and participatory policy options;
- Policy options that recognize and support multiple forms of knowledge;
- Policy tools and instruments that ensure fair and equitable distribution of costs and benefits;
- Context-related policies;
- Monitoring of practices;
- Harmonized policy instruments at international, national, regional and local levels; maintain harmony and consistency with international obligations, take into account customary rules and norms; and,
- Strong institutions, including ordinary institutions.
The IPBES Assessment Report on Sustainable Use of Wildlife is the result of 4 years of work by 85 leading experts from the natural and social sciences and holders of local and indigenous knowledge, as well as 200 contributing authors, drawing on more than 6,200 sources. . The summary of the report was approved by representatives of the 139 member states of IPBES in Bonn, Germany this week.
The report offers insights, analysis and tools for creating more sustainable uses that conserve biodiversity and ecosystem functioning while contributing to human well-being.
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