Climate Action

Human activity is putting over 1,000 species under severe threat of extinction

New research has found that human activity is putting a quarter of all species under threat.

  • 13 March 2019
  • Rachel Cooper

New research has found that human activity is putting a quarter of all species under threat.

The research, commissioned by the University of Queensland and the Wildlife Conservation Society, has found that human threats, such as hunting and land clearing, are severely limiting the areas in which species can survive.

The study mapped the distribution of wildlife ‘cool spots’, where wildlife is still thriving, and ‘hotspots’ where species are threatened by human activities.

James Allan, lead author from the University of Queensland, said: “1,237 species – a quarter of those assessed – are impacted by threats covering more than 90 per cent of their habitat, and 395 species are impacted by threats across their entire range, including many charismatic large mammals.”

The study found that mammals were the most impacted, with on average 52 per cent of a species’ distribution impacted by relevant threats.

Professor James Watson, of UQ and the Wildlife Conservation Society, said: “All the threats we mapped can be stopped by conservation action, we just need the political will and funding to do it. We have shown, throughout the world that actively tackling these types of threats works, with species bouncing back when conservation action is targeted and well-resourced.

The top hot spots were found mostly in Southeast Asia, where wildlife-rich tropical forests are increasingly threatened by expanding human activities.

A recent report by Greenpeace found that the company that owns Cadbury has destroyed over 25,000 hectares of Orangutan habitat. This deforestation is having a monumental effect on the orangutan population, every year it is estimated that between 1,000 and 5,000 orangutans are killed in palm oil concessions.

The authors hope this research, and the framework presented, can be used by countries striving to meet ambitious development targets such as the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Read the full report here.