India among nations that face grave danger to soil biodiversity: WWF

India among nations that face grave danger to soil biodiversity: WWF


  1. World Wildlife Fund for Nature (WWF) released its Living Planet Report 2018 titled

“ A warning sign from our planet: Nature needs life support”

Important Facts:

  1. The Global Soil Biodiversity Atlas was also prepared by the WWF along with the report.

  1. Key Findings of the report:
  • The population of fish, birds, mammals, amphibians and reptiles have dwindled by an average of 60% from 1970 to 2014.
  • This reduction was especially marked in the tropics, with South and Central America suffering the most dramatic decline an 89% loss since 1970.
  • Latin America has seen the worst effects of human activity and the region saw a staggering 90 per cent loss in wildlife during this period.
  • The fresh-water species have declined by 83% from 1970 to 2014.
  • Since 1960, the global ecological footprint has increased by more than 190%.
  • Globally, the extent of wetlands was estimated to have declined by 87% since 1970.
  • The Earth is estimated to have lost about half of its shallow water corals in the past 30 years and 20% of the Amazon has disappeared in just 50 years.
  • A key aspect of this year’s report is the threat to soil biodiversity and pollinators [such as bees].
  • According to report, economically, pollination increases the global value of crop production by $237-$577 billion per year to growers alone and keeps price down for consumers,”.

  1. India’s case:
  • The report shows India among countries whose soil biodiversity faces the highest level of risk.
  • The reasons for this according to WWF are pollution and nutrient overloading (eg by excessive fertiliser use), over-grazing, intensive agriculture, fire, soil erosion, desertification and climate change etc.

  • WWF-India pointed to threat to pollinators like bees which have direct consequences on food security. More than 75% of leading global food crops depend on pollinators, it said
  • Tamil Nadu Agricultural University study that observed that while 150 million bee colonies were needed to meet the pollination requirements of about 50 million hectares of agricultural land in India, only 1.2 million colonies were present.
  • While India’s per capita ecological footprint was less than 1.75 hectares/person (which is in the lowest band, among countries surveyed) its high population made it vulnerable to an ecological crisis, even if per-capita consumption remained at current levels, the WWF warned.

  1. Significance of WWF study:
  • The dataset provided with the WWF showed that we are headed for another mass extinction event.
  • This is the sixth time in the last half a billion years that Earth has seen such erosion of its wildlife.
  • Such is the situation that the real-time rate of species lost due to human factors is 100 to 1,000 times higher than it was a few hundred years ago.
  1. Addressing challenges: To address these challenges, the WWF suggests three necessary steps:
  • Clearly specifying a goal for biodiversity recovery.
  • Developing a set of measurable and relevant indicators of progress.
  • Agreeing on a suite of actions that can collectively achieve the goal in the required time frame.


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