Population Matters

International Day for Biological Diversity

International Day for Biological Diversity

International Day for Biological Diversity 2015 is 22 May. The theme for the Day this year is “Biodiversity for Sustainable Development”.


More than 4,500 mammal, bird and amphibian species are currently deemed at risk of extinction. Not all species have been catalogued, so we do not know exactly how many we are losing each year, but a report recently published in the journal Natue suggests that approximately 41 per cent of amphibian species, 26 per cent of mammal species and 13 per cent of bird species are likely to be lost in the near future.

Many of the larger land mammals in particular are at risk. Elephants, hippopotamuses and rhinoceroses could be extinct in the wild in less than 30 years if current habitat destruction and poaching trends continue.

Plants, fungi and insects are also disappearing at an alarming rate.


A large number of national governments have made promising commitments to preserve biodiversity and doing so is one of the proposed United Nations post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals: “Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification and halt and reverse land degradation and biodiversity loss.”

However, underlying all of the causes of biodiversity loss is the growth of our own population, which is continuing unabated. It is no coincidence that while wildlife populations decreased by more than half between 1970 and 2010, our own population more than doubled. As our patron Sir David Attenborough has said, “All our environmental problems become easier to solve with fewer people and harder — and ultimately impossible — to solve with ever more people.”

There are many ways in which individuals can help to preserve endangered species. We urge you to do so — not only their future but our own is at stake.

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