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Global wildlife populations have halved in just 40 years, according to the tenth edition of WWF's Living Planet Report 2014. Released today, the biennial report also highlights the urgent need for solutions to be found to humanity's increasing demand on the world's natural resources.

Key findings:

  • Populations of mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and fish have declined by an average of 52% since the 1970s.
  • Freshwater species populations have suffered a 76% decline, an average loss almost double that of land and marine species.
  • The worst declines have been observed in the Tropics.

The report draws upon the Living Planet Index, a database maintained by the Zoological Society of London, which monitors trends in over 10,000 populations of 3038 species since the 1970s. It also looks at how human consumption levels have increased in the same time period. It shows that the biggest recorded threat to biodiversity comes from the combined impacts of habitat loss and degradation, driven by unsustainable human consumption.

Climate change is also noted as becoming an increasing concern. The findings are published days after the UN Climate Summit in New York, concurs with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon that climate change is already impacting on the health of the planet.

While recognising that biodiversity loss around the world is at critical levels, the Living Planet Report 2014 also provides solutions for a healthy planet. It calls for better ways of managing, using and sharing natural resources within the planet's limitations - so as to ensure food, water and energy security for all.

In 2015, world leaders will agree two potentially critical global agreements: the post-2015 development framework - which will include Sustainable Development Goals to be achieved by all countries by 2030; and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. WWF is working hard to ensure that the right environmental framework underpins these agreements and that the fundamental link between poverty, climate change and ecosystems degradation is acknowledged and tackled in an integrated way.

WWF's One Planet Perspective, outlined in the report, shows how we can reverse the trends outlined in the report through a series of practical decisions. We need to divert investment away from the causes of environmental problems and towards solutions; make fair, far-sighted and ecologically informed choices about how we manage resources; preserve our natural capital; produce better and consume more wisely.

The Living Planet Report 2014 is produced in conjuction with the Zoological Society of London, the Global Footprint Network and the Water Footprint Network.