According to a recent report by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), 50,000 wild species meet the needs of billions of people around the world. The accelerating global biodiversity crisis, which threatens the extinction of a million plant and animal species, jeopardises these contributions to people.



  • The IPBES is an independent intergovernmental body established in Panama City, on 21 April 2012 by 94 Governments.
  • At present, it comprises 139 member Governments and is often described as the “IPCC for biodiversity.”
  • It aims to strengthen the science-policy interface for biodiversity and ecosystem services for the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity, long-term human well-being and sustainable development.
      • It provides policymakers with objective scientific assessments of the state of knowledge about the planet’s biodiversity, ecosystems and the contributions they make to people.
      • It also provides tools and methods for protecting and using these vital natural assets in a sustainable manner.
  • It is not a United Nations body, but at the request of the IPBES Plenary and with the authorisation of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Governing Council (in 2013), the UNEP provides secretariat services to IPBES.


Findings of the report

  • Use of wild species
    • People use approximately –
          • 7,500 species of wild fish and aquatic invertebrates,
          • 31,100 species of wild plants,
          • 7,400 of which are trees,
          • 1,500 species of fungi,
          • 1,700 species of wild terrestrial invertebrates, and
          • 7,500 species of wild amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals.
    • An estimated one in every five people worldwide rely on wild plants, algae and fungi for food, nutritional diversity and income.
    • This is true particularly for women, children, landless farmers and others in vulnerable situations.
  • Trade in wild species
    • Trade in wild plants, algae and fungi for food, medicine, hygiene, energy and ornamental use is increasing.
    • There is a growing demand for wild foods in the food and aromatics industries.
  • People rely on wild species for variety of reasons
    • The report shows that humans rely on 50,000 wild species (of plants and animals) for a variety of reasons.
    • This includes food, energy, medicine, materials and other necessities.
  • Over-exploitation as a major reason for biodiversity loss
    • The over-exploitation of wild species is one of the primary causes of biodiversity loss. For example,
      • Unsustainable fishing is the main cause for the increased extinction risk of sharks and rays over the past half century.
      • Unsustainable hunting has been identified as a threat for 1,341 wild mammal species, including 669 species that were assessed as threatened.
      • An estimated 12% of wild tree species are threatened by unsustainable logging and unsustainable gathering is one of the main threats for several plant groups, notably cacti, cycads and orchids.
    • The accelerating global biodiversity crisis, which threatens the extinction of a million plant and animal species, jeopardises these contributions to people.


Recommendations to promote sustainable use of wild species

  • Promote Policy options that
      • Are inclusive and participatory.
      • Recognise and support multiple forms of knowledge.
      • Ensure fair and equitable distribution of costs and benefits.
      • Are context-specific.
      • Are aligned at the international, national, regional and local levels.
  • Monitoring of wild species and practices.
  • Policy instruments that build robust institutions, including customary institutions.