Stretching our safety net: The "Living Planet Report"

2020-09-23 The "Living Planet Report" is one of the world's leading analyses of global ecosystems. The publication, edited by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), examines how long the world's animal and plant populations will continue to support human life. The report caused a sensation in 2018 with the statement that the worldwide populations of vertebrates have declined by 60% since 1970. Prof. Dr. Berta Martin-Lopez from the Institute for Ethics and Transdisciplinary Sustainability Research was significantly involved in this year's edition.

In the report, Martin-Lopez shows in detail the benefits humans derive from nature. These benefits are sometimes direct (e.g. oxygen produced by forests) and sometimes indirect (e.g. ecosystems whose equilibrium prevents natural disasters or keeps local pest populations low). The scientist argues that the continuing and uncontrolled exploitation ("overexploitation") of nature is on the verge of overtaking the regeneration potential of ecosystems. "We’re stretching our safety net almost to breaking point," she points out. The fact that it has come this far is also due to the mindset by which nature is analysed and approached by scientists and decision-makers: "Until recently, biodiversity and nature were viewed solely from a biophysical and economic perspective.” Martin-Lopez, on the other hand, suggests broadening the perspective to include knowledge from the social sciences and humanities as well as the knowledge and practices of Indigenous Peoples.