A recent report trumpeting a broad recovery of iconic bird and mammal species across the European continent masks a deep problem.
Good news:large, rare animals locked away in protected areas benefit enormously from conservation measures taken by organizations that can buy land and create nature reserves.
Bad news: the “return” of an impressive number of birds and mammals does not signal a turnaround. None of the featured species have become sustainable populations. Global biodiversity continues to decline dramatically.
Worse news: the more ubiquitous species, the great bulk of life on earth—common plants, common birds, common insects, killed by resource extraction, agriculture, development and artificially altering the chemical makeup of the natural world—that require large diverse habitats and vastly different measures and systems to sustain life continue to show massive declines.
Saving a select few keystone animals isn’t enough. The key factor in all the recoveries listed is the withdrawal of human influence on landscapes.
The species falling behind can only be saved through changes in public policies directed at agriculture, extraction, hunting, and solid, unequivocal protection of air and water.
Shout out: Richard Conniff.