Often described as ‘IPCC for biodiversity’, the IPBES in this report offered insights, analysis and tools for sustainable use of wild species, reminding the global community how much human beings are interdependent with all living beings and why it’s, therefore, important to conserve them by stopping overexploitation and protecting their habitats.
Though the wild species are being used through fishing, gathering, logging and terrestrial animal harvesting globally with more than 10,000 of them being harvested for human food, the report on ‘Sustainable Use of Wild Species’ flagged a worrying trend that shows the illegal trade in wild species, worth up to $199 billion annually, accounts for the world’s third largest class of illegal trade. Timber and fish make up the largest volumes and value of illegal trade in wild species.
The report comes against the backdrop of the stark findings of the IPBES in May, 2019 that shows around 1 million animal and plant species are threatened with extinction, more than ever before in human history.
“Today one million species are at risk of extinction. And the unsustainable, illegal and unregulated use of species is a large part of the problem… This (illegal) trade also robs countries, indigenous people and local communities of access to their own resources and safe livelihoods,” said Inger Andersen, executive director, UN Environment Programme (UNEP).
The report identifies five broad categories of ‘practices’ in the use of wild species: fishing; gathering; logging; terrestrial animal harvesting (including hunting); and non-extractive practices, such as observing. For each practice, it examines specific ‘uses’ such as for food and feed; materials; medicine, energy; recreation; ceremony; learning and decoration — providing a detailed analysis of the trends in each, over the past 20 years.
“In most cases, use of wild species has increased, but sustainability of use has varied, such as in gathering for medicine and logging for materials and energy,” it said.