In news: Plotting Global Trends in Forest Wildlife Populations is the first-ever global assessment by WWF of forest-dwelling wildlife populations and highlights the multitude of threats forest-living species are facing.

About the report: Until now, forest biodiversity had never been assessed, but forest area was often used as a proxy indicator. 

  • The new findings were based on the Forest Specialist Index, developed following the Living Planet Index methodology — an index that tracks wildlife that lives only in forests. In total, data was available for 268 species (455 populations) of birds, mammals, reptiles and amphibians.

Key Findings

  • There has been a 53 per cent decline in the number of forest wildlife populations since 1970.
  • While the decline was consistent among mammals, reptiles and amphibians (particularly from the tropical forests), it was less among birds (especially from temperate forests).
  • Changes in tree cover, deforestation or reforestation were not responsible for the decline in wildlife populations.
  • Major threats were: Habitat loss and habitat degradation/change, Exploitation & Climate change Loss of habitat due to logging, agricultural expansion, mining, hunting, conflicts and the spread of diseases accounted for almost 60 percent of threats. 
  • Nearly 20 percent of threats were due to overexploitation Climate change, threatened to 43 per cent of amphibian populations, 37 percent of reptile populations, 21 percent of bird populations but only 3 percent of mammal populations.
  • More than 60 per cent of threatened forest specialist populations faced more than one threat, the report noted. Protecting wildlife and reversing the decline of nature requires urgent global action. 
  • The need is to preserve harmonious land use in our region, including forest management and protect the most valuable surviving ecosystems.