The following statement was released by the Wildlife Conservation Society today in regard to a landmark report from the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES):

Said Dr. John Robinson, WCS Executive Vice President for Conservation and Science:

“The blaring alarm sounded today with the release of the IPBES report that nature ‘is declining globally at rates unprecedented in human history’ cannot be ignored and we must double down on solutions to save our world’s biodiversity -- that rich variety of species and natural systems with which we share this world.

“The IBPES report makes it clear that our global response to protect natural systems must be bolder and more assertive than ever. Nature is crashing due to human activities and we need to respond as a global community and take personal responsibility in how we consume, vote and live, and we must push governments to take meaningful action.

 “The report clearly demonstrates the loss of biodiversity is not only resulting in species extinctions, but threatening our agriculture, water, food security, and economy, as well as robbing us of the greatest defense against climate change. There is no replete response to climate change that doesn't have biodiversity conservation as a central pillar.

“Forests, grasslands and wetlands are the most effective and cost efficient response to climate change and yet rely entirely on biodiversity to maintain themselves. As we lose species by degrading forests and wetlands, we also lose our strongest and cheapest bulwark against the impacts of a warming planet, as well as its best cooling mechanism. Intact forests, in particular, are strongly resilient to the ravages of climate change and are critical not only for species conservation, but for the very future of indigenous peoples.

“The threat of extinction of many species is real, but those threats can be addressed. At WCS, we focus on the protection of nature’s strongholds—those large wild places on land and in the sea sufficiently intact to maintain their ecosystems and biodiversity. We work with governments and local partners on creating and managing protected areas, working with local communities on the ground. Never before has there been a greater need to move quickly to protect our planet’s remaining intact ecosystems, including terrestrial and marine; intact forests; grasslands; and coral reefs.  

“Protected areas present the most effective means of securing natural ecosystems. When based on sound science, well-managed and adequately funded these places can ensure the persistence of natural habitat, sustain wildlife populations, and improve the livelihoods and well-being of indigenous peoples and local communities that depend on them. At WCS, we provide the scientific basis to help countries and others to establish protected areas and to deploy other conservation measures that can save nature.

The success of our science-driven conservation strategies to save species gives us hope. To cite a few examples: Tigers in India’s Nagarahole have seen significant increases; humpback whales on the coasts of Gabon and Madagascar are recovering; the elephant population in Tanzania’s Tarangire National Park has increased greatly; the extinction of the Burmese star tortoise has been curtailed; and the jaguar population in Bolivia’s Madidi National Park are on the rise. These examples clearly show that conservation tactics do and can work.

“We wholeheartedly agree that as a global community we need to take transformative action to address the devastation to nature that we as a species have caused. And we must – now, not later -- look to our humanity to find a path to be stewards and protectors of our only home.”