Australia

There are only 10 years left to save the world's biodiversity from mass extinction, UN warns

A polar bear on an ice floe in the Arctic Ocean, August 2017. Source: Getty

More dedicated protected areas and a 50 per cent reduction in pollution by the end of the next decade is needed to save the world's natural world from mass extinction, the UN's Convention on Biological Diversity has warned.

Almost one-third of the earth should be classified as protected areas by the end of the next decade in order to protect the world's fragile biodiversity, a United Nations committee has warned.

The Convention on Biological Diversity released a draft report on Monday, detailing a number of global goals aimed at protecting endangered species and halting the world's biodiversity crisis.

Other targets include reducing pollution from excess nutrients, biocides and plastic waste by 50 per cent before 2030, ensuring sustainable harvesting and trade of wild species and controlling the introduction of invasive species.

A kangaroo is seen at the Flinders Chase National Park during bushfires on Kangaroo Island.
A kangaroo is seen at the Flinders Chase National Park during bushfires on Kangaroo Island.
AAP

"Biodiversity is deteriorating worldwide and this decline is projected to continue or worsen under business-as-usual scenarios," the draft report read.

"A whole-of-government and society approach is necessary to make the changes needed over the next 10 years ... As such, governments and societies need to determine priorities and allocate financial and other resources, internalise the value of nature and recognise the cost of inaction."

Of the proposed protected areas, the committee said at least 10 per cent should be under strict protection.

A protected area refers to a clearly defined geographical area, such as a national park or conservation reserve, managed to ensure the longterm life of its biodiversity. Strict protection means humans are largely restricted from entering an area in order to preserve the natural landscape and native species.

Last year, a landmark UN report found that approximately one million animal and plant species faced extinction within decades.

Around 10 per cent of insects, 30 per cent of reef-forming corals and marine mammals and more than 40 per cent of amphibians were in the firing line, the report said.

Of the world's estimated 5.9 million land-based species, more than 500,000 have insufficient habitat for long-term survival.

The Bramble Cay melomys is the first species thought to have become extinct due to climate change.
The Bramble Cay melomys is the first species thought to have become extinct due to climate change.
Queensland Government

The sobering report was the result of three years of work from 145 expert authors, building on a 2005 study and assessing global changes over the past 50 years.

The first animal species believed to have become extinct due to climate change, the Bramble Cay rat, also known as Melomys rubicola, was native to a small island located at the northern tip of Australia's Great Barrier Reef.

More than one billion animals are already feared dead as a result of this year's horror bushfire season, including up to 30 per cent of the NSW South Coast's already endangered koala population. 

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