ARCHIV - 02.10.2018, China, Shishi: Fischer arbeiten im Fischereihafen von Xiangzhi in der südostchinesischen Provinz Fujian mit frisch gefangenem Fisch. Ungeachtet aller Warnrufe nimmt die rücksichtslose Plünderung der Weltmeere weiterhin rapide zu. (zu dpa "Überfischung der Weltmeere nimmt zu - WWF warnt vor «Katastrophe»") Foto: Song Weiwei/XinHua/dpa +++ dpa-Bildfunk +++

The World Biodiversity Council IPBES published a report with recommendations for the sustainable use of wild species on Friday. 50,000 wild species are used by humans, more than 10,000 for human food.

According to the report, people in poorer regions of the world are particularly dependent on it, a total of around twenty percent of the world’s population. About a third of the world’s people, around 2.4 billion, depend on firewood for cooking.

But if forests are cut down for firewood, the use is not sustainable. The same applies to fish stocks that are overfished or illegal trade that threatens wildlife species. The rural population in developing countries is most at risk from the consequences of overexploitation. In addition to stressors such as climate change, pollution and the introduction of invasive species, it puts pressure on many species of plants and animals. “The accelerating global biodiversity crisis, with one million species of plants and animals threatened with extinction, threatens these contributions to people,” said IPBES.

“Seventy percent of the world’s poor depend directly on wildlife,” says Marla Emery, one of the three co-chairs of the report. However, the regular use of wild species is not only of great importance in the Global South. In the form of edible fish, medicines, cosmetics, decoration and leisure activities, people in wealthy countries also use wild species. “Use is much more common than most people realize,” says Emery.

The report’s authors look at five key ways that people use wildlife: fishing, collecting plants, mushrooms and algae, logging, use and hunting of terrestrial wildlife, and “non-extractive” practices such as spotting. For each of these practices, specific uses such as food and fodder, materials, medicine, energy, recreation, ceremonies, learning, and decoration are examined, and trends over the past 20 years are analyzed in detail. In most cases, wild species use has increased, but the sustainability of use varies.

“Recent global estimates confirm that around 34 percent of wild fish stocks in the oceans are overfished and 66 percent are fished within biologically sustainable levels,” reports Jean-Marc Fromentin, one of the three co-chairs. There are significant local and contextual differences. “In countries with sound fisheries management, stocks have increased,” says Fromentin. The stock of bluefin tuna in the Atlantic, for example, has recovered and is now being fished sustainably.

In countries and regions without fisheries management, however, the status of the stocks is often poorly known. In general, stocks are considered to be below levels that would allow for sustainable food production. “Many small fisheries are not or only partially sustainable, especially in Africa for freshwater and marine fisheries and in Asia, Latin America and Europe for coastal fisheries,” says Fromentin.

“The current report recognizes that the instruments and the knowledge about sustainable use are basically already available, but are not being implemented stringently enough,” said Christopher Zimmermann, head of the Institute for Baltic Sea Fisheries at the Federal Research Institute for Rural Areas, Forests and Fisheries in Rostock the Science Media Center Germany. The derived recommendations for action for politicians are not new, but they offer a “very useful overview”.

“Sustainable use of wild living resources can make a significant contribution to achieving the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals,” says Zimmermann. In many cases, use is even better and has a lower global environmental impact than stopping use of these species altogether. According to the report, sustainable use could make a contribution of up to 71 percent to achieving UN Sustainable Development Goal 14 “Life below Water”.

Rainer Froese from the Helmholtz Center for Ocean Research Kiel (GEOMAR) criticizes the report for making the main statements very general. “There is no call for much-needed action, just general feel-good wisdom that everyone can agree to.” Sometimes it is even misleading. “Contrary to what is presented in the summary for political decision-makers, the number of overexploited fish stocks continues to increase worldwide.” The bycatch of endangered species such as sharks is also not decreasing globally, but increasing.

“The EU has also clearly missed its statutory goal of ending all overfishing by 2020,” says Froese. In 2021, 40 to 50 percent of the stocks in northern Europe will still be overexploited, and this proportion is estimated at over 80 percent for the Mediterranean. Most European fish stocks have declined too much due to overfishing to be able to fulfill their role in the ecosystem and to support sustained high catches. “The report is unlikely to change that. We don’t need more reports, we finally need political action,” says Froese.

Matthias Glaubrecht from the University of Hamburg sums up the report as follows: “An ever-growing humanity is still plundering planet earth as if we had a second one.” On the one hand, the report shows the dangers and on the other hand what sustainable use could look like – ” and must if we want to survive,” says Glaubrecht. The Expert Council emphasizes that these economically important plants and animals must be preserved in their natural habitats.

“The loss of natural habitats, euphemistically referred to as ‘land use change’, is the biggest driver of species decline and loss,” says Glaubrecht. In the tropical and subtropical regions of the world in particular – demonstrably the richest in terms of biodiversity – natural habitats would be destroyed on a large scale, for example through deforestation in Amazonia, in West and Central Africa and in Southeast Asia.

An estimated 12 percent of tree species are threatened by unsustainable logging, the report says. For other plant groups such as cacti, cycads and orchids in particular, unsustainable collection is one of the main threats.

The report focuses on the importance of local and indigenous communities. In order to achieve sustainable use of wild animal and plant species, they must be included in decisions and their knowledge of natural resources must be used. The recommendations made could become relevant for various political decision-making processes – including for the post-2020 biodiversity goals, which are to be decided at the UN biodiversity conference in Montreal in December.

“The focus must be on formulating a binding goal for the most extensive area protection possible,” says Glaubrecht. He proposes the 30:30 target, for which at least 30 percent of the earth’s surface should be preserved in a near-natural state by 2030. “Without the targeted area protection, the 50,000 or 10,000 species directly used by hunting and fishing will not be preserved in the long term,” says Glaubrecht.

The IPBES Status Report on the Sustainable Use of Wild Species is the result of four years of work by 85 leading experts in the natural and social sciences and representatives who have contributed indigenous and local knowledge, and 200 contributing authors. It is based on the evaluation of around 6200 sources: peer-reviewed specialist publications and non-peer-reviewed “grey” specialist literature. The summary of the report was approved by representatives of the 139 IPBES member states in Bonn this week. Another IPBES report on the “diverse values ​​of nature” is to be published on Monday.