Wildlife populations have fallen by more than two-thirds in less than 50 years, according to a major report by the conservation group WWF.
According to the Living Planet Report 2020, biodiversity – the rich diversity of life on Earth – is being lost at an alarming rate.
"This loss affects our own health and well-being. Today, catastrophic impacts for people and the planet loom closer than ever," the authors noted.
The report says this "catastrophic decline" shows no sign of slowing. It warns that nature is being destroyed by humans at a rate never seen before.
Tanya Steele, Chief Executive at WWF is quoted saying: "We are wrecking our world - the one place we call home - risking our health, security and survival here on Earth. Now nature is sending us a desperate SOS and time is running out."
The report looked at thousands of different wildlife species monitored by conservation scientists in habitats across the world.
The population sizes of mammals, birds, fish, amphibians and reptiles have seen an alarming average drop of 68 per cent since 1970, the report says.
The decline was clear evidence of the damage human activity is doing to the natural world, Dr Andrew Terry, Director of Conservation at the Zoological Society of London (ZSL), which provides the data, stated.
"If nothing changes, populations will undoubtedly continue to fall, driving wildlife to extinction and threatening the integrity of the ecosystems on which we depend," Terry said.
Next pandemic could be more deadly
Worse still, it is noted, if we continue to destroy the natural world, we will see more outbreaks like Covid-19, and the next pandemic could be even more deadly and costly.
The way we produce and consume food and energy, it is noted, and the blatant disregard for the environment entrenched in our current economic model has pushed the natural world to its limits.
"Covid-19 is a clear manifestation of our broken relationship with nature and highlights the deep interconnection between the health of both people and the planet," reads the report.
"It is time we answer nature’s SOS. Not just to secure the amazing diversity of life we love and have the moral duty to coexist with, but because ignoring it puts the future of nearly 8 billion people at stake."
As noted, a better future starts with the decisions that governments, companies and people around the world take today.
The report recommends that world leaders must take urgent action to protect and restore nature as the foundation for a healthy society and a thriving economy.
"It’s time for the world to agree to a New Deal for Nature and People, committing to stop and reverse the loss of nature by 2030 and build a carbon-neutral and nature-positive society."
"This is our best safeguard for human health and livelihoods in the long term, and to ensure a safe future for our children."Follow https://twitter.com/KarhangaJames