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Analysis warns global biodiversity is below 'safe limit' ahead of COP 15 - Natural History Museum

The world's biodiversity has fallen below the 'safe limit', researchers suggest, as habitat destruction and agriculture take their toll on nature.

Ahead of the 2021 UN Biodiversity Conference (COP 15), the Museum has launched the Biodiversity Trends Explorer, an online tool that will allow everyone, from members of the public to policymakers, to see how the biodiversity of different regions has changed over time.

According to new analysis of over 58,000 species by Museum scientists, the UK has only half of its entire biodiversity left, putting it in the bottom 10% of the world's countries.

With an average of just 53% of its native wildlife intact, it falls behind countries including the USA and China following widespread destruction of its habitats from the seventeenth to nineteenth centuries.

Globally - biodiversity intactness, which represents the proportion of the original number of species in an area that remain and their abundance - is measured at 75%. This is significantly below the 90% average set as the 'safe limit' to maintain the ecological processes such as pollination and nutrient cycling that are vital to our survival.

The researchers behind the new analysis have called on governments around the world for ambitious action to preserve and enhance biodiversity globally ahead of the 2021 UN Biodiversity Conference (COP 15).

Professor Andy Purvis, who researches biodiversity at the Museum and carried out the analysis, says, “Biodiversity loss is just as catastrophic as climate change, but the solutions are linked. Stopping further damage to the planet requires big change, but we can do it if we act now, together. Muddling through as we currently are doing is nowhere near enough to halt, let alone reverse, this devastating decline in biodiversity. Governments possess the power - economic, political and legal - to address the planetary emergency, and there may still be time, but they must act now.”

The Museum has also launched a new tool, the Biodiversity Trends Explorer, to allow people around the world to track biodiversity changes from 2000 to 2050.

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