Scientists know that biodiversity is declining across much of the world although less universally and dramatically than we feared. We also know that things are likely to get worse in the future, with a combination of habitat loss, climate change and overexploitation set to drive species and habitats ever closer to extinction.
What we don’t know, is what to do about this. Partly this is because conservation is woefully underfunded. But it’s also because the underlying causes of biodiversity declines are getting stronger and stronger every year. Climate change rightly gets a huge amount of coverage, but for biodiversity, the biggest threat actually comes from the destruction of natural habitats to make way for agriculture. And as global populations grow, and people become wealthier and consume more, that need for new agricultural land is just going to increase, resulting in at least 2 million sq km of new farmland by 2050, and maybe as much as 10 million. MORE
Header image: The fingernail-sized pumpkin toadlet is only found in Brazil’s Atlantic rainforest, and could lose almost all its remaining habitat to agricultural expansion. Credit: Pedro Bernardo/Shutterstock.