The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) released its biennial Living Plant Report in 2014 documenting a startling decline in vertebrate (e.g. mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, fishes) populations worldwide. WWF’s Living Planet Index (LPI), a measure of trends in thousands of vertebrate species populations, showed a decline of 52 per cent between 1970 and 2010. This means vertebrate species populations worldwide are, on average, about half the size they were 40 years ago and this global trend shows no sign of slowing.
The main threats to populations worldwide are 1) habitat lossand degradation, 2) exploitation through hunting and fishing (intentionally (e.g. food, sport) or accidental (e.g. bycatch)), and 3) Climate Change. The impacts to vertebrate species populations vary widely across different regions of the world. Populations in North America dropped by 20%, where as, populations in Central and South America dropped by 83%.
The report illustrates the importance and urgency of KNLT’s efforts to protect wildland corridors. These corridors are particular important to migratory species such as songbirds and butterflies. Hundreds of species of birds migrate to and through Kentucky each year from Central and South America. They depend on intact habitat for breeding and along their migration routes. Intact corridors are also essential to the resiliency of species, offering species the opportunity to adapt and shift range in response to changing climate.