News

UN Reports 1 Million Species on the Verge

Earlier this month a landmark UN report summary was published, announcing that “Nature is declining globally at rates unprecedented in human history – and the rate of species extinctions is accelerating, with grave impacts on people around the world now likely.”

Roughly 1 million species of animals and plants worldwide are on the verge of extinction, warns the Report summary. This includes almost a quarter of threatened birds, which may already have been negatively affected by climate change.

What’s needed now is strategic conservation action across economic, social, and political arenas. 

Together, we can make transformative change.

There is still hope. The Report also noted a 29% average reduction in the extinction risk for mammals and birds in 109 countries thanks to conservation investments from 1996 to 2008. If not for conservation action in the recent decade, the extinction risk would have been at least 20% greater.

Audubon New York's five conservation priorities address some of the most notable findings in the report. Within each, there are opportunities available for you here in our state to help make an impact today. 

Start by signing up for our Action Alerts!

COASTS

Notable Findings
100-300 million people in coastal areas worldwide are at an increased risk due to loss of coastal habitat protection. 3-25% of fish biomass is projected to decrease by the end of the century in low and high climate warming scenarios, respectively.

How to Help
Across the globe, many forage fish populations are declining due to ocean warming and overfishing. This is affecting the entire ocean food system and the businesses that depend on it. Click here to urge your representative to protect seabirds.

CLIMATE

Notable Findings
The Report notes that, since 1980, greenhouse gas emissions have doubled, raising average global temperatures by at least 0.7 degrees Celsius. In some cases, the impact may surpass that of land and sea use change.

How to Help
Join Climate Watch this May 15 – June 15! By observing bluebirds, nuthatches, and more in your area, you can help us learn how birds are responding to the changing climate. Get the details here.

WORKING LANDS

Notable Findings
50% of agricultural expansion occurred at the expense of forests, claims the Report, and forests are at a 68% global area level today compared with the estimated pre-industrial level.

How to Help
Sustainably managed forests can help sequester carbon and protect the filtering systems of our drinking water. If you’re a forest manager or landowner, you can take steps now to help bring your land under improved management for birds and other wildlife. Explore your options here.

BIRD-FRIENDLY COMMUNITIES

Notable Findings
Tentatively, 10% of insects are threatened with extinction. Pollinator loss is putting our annual value of global crop output at risk by $235 - $577 billion. 75% of the terrestrial environment has been “severely altered” by human actions.

How to Help
The easiest action you can take is right outside your front door – by planting any number of native shrubs, trees, flowers, and grasses to benefit birds, insects, and other wildlife. Visit our Plants for Birds database get a curated list of plants that will thrive in your zip code.

WATER

Notable Findings
+/-75% of freshwater resources are now devoted to crop or livestock production. 40%: of the global population lacks access to clean and safe drinking water.

How to Help
From the Great Lakes to the Long Island Sound, Audubon is working to secure hundreds of millions of dollars in state and federal funding for comprehensive cleanups and new clean water infrastructure.  We are also working to protect and restore critical wetland habitats. Learn more about one important bill we are urging the state legislature to pass, here. 

The full six-chapter Report (including all data) is expected exceed 1,500 pages and will be published later this year. Read the summary here: https://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/blog/2019/05/nature-decline-unprecedented-report/.