World Wildlife Day is an opportunity to celebrate wildlife and nature on which we all depend. From fresh water and food to medicines and carbon storage, we all rely on ecosystems and their component species for our health and prosperity.
But today, over a million of those species face threat of extinction. When we lose species, entire ecosystems can decline and disappear. At the same time, we need healthy ecosystems to ensure that species can survive and thrive.
The urgency to better understand species’ relationship with ecosystems is shown starkly by wetlands. Wetlands are home to 40% of all global species. But since 1970 we have lost 35% of global wetlands. Today, one in three freshwater species and 25% of all wetlands species face extinction, including water birds, fresh water-dependent mammals, marine turtles and coral-reef building species.
This year, World Wildlife Day focuses on recovering key species for ecosystem restoration. We cannot meet our global biodiversity or sustainable development goals without acting dually to protect species and conserve and restore the ecosystems in which they live. And we know this works. For example, efforts to conserve sea otters, a key-stone species for coastal wetlands have helped to stabilize entire kelp forest ecosystems in the US, Russia and Japan.
On this day, let’s commit to protecting our species and ecosystems for a safer, sustainable world.