Warning as species drop by third
Populations of animal, bird and fish species have dropped by almost a third since 1970, conservationists have warned.
The Living Planet Index, which tracks the fortunes of more than 1,400 species of fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals, revealed numbers had declined by 27% in 35 years to 2005.
Particularly badly hit are marine species, including the swordfish, which plummeted by 28% in ten years between 1995 and 2005, while ocean birds have seen numbers fall by 30% since the mid 1990s.
The report by conservation charity WWF comes ahead of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity next week, which will discuss aims to achieve a "significant reduction" in the current rate of biodiversity loss by 2010.
The pledge was made by the world’s nations in 2002 "as a contribution to poverty alleviation and to the benefit of all life on Earth".
The report said that despite the declines appearing to flatten off in recent years, it is "very unlikely" governments will meet the 2010 target.
Colin Butfield, head of campaigns at WWF-UK, said: "Biodiversity underpins the health of the planet and has a direct impact on all our lives so it is alarming that despite an increased awareness of environmental issues we continue to see a downward trend."
He urged the Government to work to reverse the trend which in the UK sees people generating carbon emissions and consuming natural resources at such a rate that if everyone lived like us we would need three planets to sustain us.
The conservation charity also warned a failure to halt biodiversity loss would have negative impacts for human beings.
James Leape, WWF director general, said: "No one can escape the impact of biodiversity loss because reduced global diversity translates quite clearly into fewer new medicines, greater vulnerability to natural disasters and greater effects from global warming."