Biodiversity is declining rapidly. The
irreversible loss in diversity of life on Earth has been more rapid
in the past 50 years than ever before in human history. These
losses are caused by human actions such as pollution, land use
change, over-exploitation, climate change and invasive alien
species. These factors – known as drivers – tend to interact and
amplify each other.
Exposure to one threat often makes a species
more likely to be at risk from another as its overall resilience
has been weakened. On land, the main direct drivers of biodiversity
loss are land use and habitat change, agriculture intensification,
habitat fragmentation and alien invasive species. Over-exploitation
of natural resources to generate energy, material goods and food
also play a part as does pollution, particularly by overuse of
fertilisers. At sea, overfishing is the main driver.
The pressures are both direct and indirect, that is policies outside the
environmental area often present additional risks to biodiversity
and compound the effects of direct pressures.
12 September 2011