of plants and animals to the point that ecological systems could become unable to function properly, with risks for agriculture and human health, reported Adam Vaughan in The Guardian on 15 July. In a study published in the journal ‘Science’ on 14 July 2016, scientists warn that the unchecked loss of biodiversity is like playing ecological roulette and will set back efforts to bring people out of poverty in the long term. The variety of animals and plants has fallen to dangerous levels across more than half of the world’s landmass due to humanity’s destruction of habitats. Analysing 1.8m records from 39,123 sites, the international study estimated that a measure of the intactness of biodiversity has fallen below a safety limit across 58.1% of the world’s land. Dr Tim Newbold, lead author of the work and a research associate at UCL, said
“We are entering the zone of uncertainty. Such widespread transgression of safe limits suggests that biodiversity loss, if unchecked, will undermine efforts towards long term sustainable development.”
The study found that the biggest cause of the alteration of natural habitats was agriculture, rather than urbanisation. The research team looked at species data from 2005 and human population numbers from 2000, when there were 6 billion people worldwide. Since then, the global population has grown to 7 billion.