The State of the Planet

For nearly two decades, WWF’s Living Planet Report has monitored the health of our planet.

The newly released 10th edition of our flagship report shows that we urgently need a united global effort to reduce humanity’s impact on the world.

Living Planet Report 2014
Key Findings

Produced in collaboration with ZSL, the Water Footprint Network and the Global Footprint Network, the report tracks thousands of species populations and measures how the impact of the way we live our lives is affecting our environment.

Its findings reveal that:

  • Wildlife populations worldwide have declined by 52 per cent since 1970
  • We are living as though we have more than one planet at our disposal
  • By taking more than nature can replenish, we are jeopardising our own future

Download The Living Planet Report 2014

Summary report (5mb) Full report (35mb)

Threats to wildlife
& habitats

Wildlife in our rivers, lakes and wetlands has suffered a 76 per cent decline – an average loss almost double that seen in land and marine species populations.

Land-based species populations declined by 39 per cent, a trend that shows no sign of slowing down.

Marine species populations declined by 39 percent. Species in decline include marine turtles, many sharks, and large migratory seabirds like the wandering albatross.

Wildlife populations are declining in tropical and temperate climates, but the biggest decline – 63 per cent since 1970 – has been seen in the tropics. Central and South America shows the most dramatic regional decline – a fall of 83 per cent.

What’s causing the problem?

The biggest recorded threats to our planet’s wildlife are habitat loss and degradation as well as over-exploitation of species. Much of this caused by human activity, such as overfishing, deforestation, dam building and over-extraction of rivers.

Climate change is also likely to become an increasing threat. To have a realistic chance of securing a safe, stable climate, we need to urgently and radically reduce our carbon emissions over the next couple of decades.

It is clear that, both globally and here in the UK, we are using more resources than our planet can continue to provide. For example, we are cutting down trees more quickly than they can regrow, harvesting more fish than the oceans can restock, pumping water from our rivers and aquifers faster than rainfall can replenish them, and emitting more carbon than the oceans and forests can absorb.

We are living as though we have more than one planet at our disposal, and if we continue to do so, we will create huge problems for ourselves in years to come

How will this affect us?

Human over-consumption is putting unsustainable pressure on our planet.

We rely on nature to meet all of our most basic needs - from food and shelter to the water we drink and the air we breathe - and if we continue to mismanage the Earth's resources there will be serious consequences for our future food, water and energy security.

Marine environment

Millions of people rely on the marine environment for their livelihoods – the global fishing sector employs more than 660 million people and marine fisheries supply more than 15 per cent of the animal protein in our diets, rising to more than 50 per cent in many countries in Africa and Asia. If threats to oceans are not abated, the economic losses could reach US$428 billion by 2050.

Forest ecosystems

Forest ecosystems provide shelter, water, fuel and food for more than 2 billion people, including 350 million of the world’s poorest people. Overall the planet’s forests are declining in area and in quality. This has had severe impacts on biodiversity, since the majority of terrestrial species live in forests, and is reducing the capacity for forests to absorb our carbon footprint, as well as affecting ecosystem services such as water provision and flood prevention.

Freshwater systems

Freshwater systems are also under huge pressure. More than 200 river basins, home to some 2.67 billion people, are already experiencing severe water scarcity for at least one month every year.

Human populations

Additionally, human population in urban areas is projected to increase from 3.6 billion in 2011 to 6.3 billion in 2050. In many cases, city infrastructures are unable to keep pace with such rapid increases in population, nor the growth of their inhabitant’s demands. Of the 63 most populated urban areas 39 are exposed to a high risk of at least one natural hazard, including flooding, cyclones and droughts.

Our solutions

We need a healthy planet for a stable future. This means we need to consume more wisely and produce less wastefully, to harness clean energy, to manage the world’s resources better and to halt the loss of our key habitats and species. WWF is working with partners around the globe to help us all start living within the natural limits of our planet.

How you can make a difference

WWF is working with a wide range of businesses, in order to help them minimise the impact of their industry. We are also pushing world leaders to commit to a global agreement to tackle climate change, to create better policies to improve social development and to make stronger commitments to protect our planet’s most threatened places and species.

But you can also help. We can all make better choices about how we live and consume as individuals.

Here are three simple ways that you can make a difference: