Biodiversity stripes raise awareness of loss of wildlife

21 April 2023

Changes to the biodiversity of our planet and how our once green world is becoming grey have been highlighted through a new biodiversity stripes website.

The biodiversity stripes show the fall in biodiversity globally, across continents and in the UK. Globally, there has been a drop of 69% in the population of mammals, birds, fish, amphibians and reptiles since 1970*.

The global data, which includes more than 5,000 species, shows how the variety and abundance of nature has diminished over time, raising awareness of the loss of wildlife as a result of climate change.

The stripes are a visual representation of changes in biodiversity over time. The highest level of biodiversity is coloured bright green. Lower levels move from yellow to grey, depending upon the level of decline. Darker greys appear with greater declines.

Vertical stripes gradually moving from green in colour to grey to show visual representation of biodiversity loss
Biodiversity loss 69%. Image shows global diversity from 1970 - 2018. Image from Information from Living Planet Index database.

Inspired by the University of Reading’s climate stripes, biodiversity stripes creator Professor Miles Richardson, Professor of Human Factors and Nature Connectedness at the University of Derby, used the same graphic format to show how species have declined rapidly over the past five decades.

Professor Miles Richardson said:

“Only by addressing both the warming climate and loss of wildlife do we stand a chance of passing on a stable planet for future generations, yet biodiversity loss has had far less coverage.

“The biodiversity stripes provide a simple representation of the change in biodiversity over time, they show how our green world is becoming grey and this is something everyone needs to engage with.”

The biodiversity stripes have already been used as part of the global Nature Positive campaign led by Nature4Climate and appeared at COP27 and COP15. A makeover of the biodiversity stripes ‘toucan’ is available on a variety of Greenpeace clothing.

The new biodiversity stripes website forms part of a wider collaboration with Reading University, which has launched the latest versions of its climate stripes graphics today. The visualisations show cities across the UK reported their warmest year on record as temperatures continue to rise rapidly.

The stripes show the change in temperature in the UK from the past 100+ years. Shades of blue indicate cooler-than-average years, while red shows years that were hotter than average.

Stripes creator Professor Ed Hawkins, climate scientist at the University of Reading and National Centre for Atmospheric Science, said:

“We wanted to create these very localised stripes to give people an indication of how things are changing right where they live. We know that different parts of the UK have different landscapes, different key industries, and different population sizes – and all of this can have an impact both on emissions, and average temperatures.

“Our key observation is that regardless of all these factors, the trend remains the same – most of the more recent years have been a lot warmer than most of the years a century ago. After the dangerous heatwaves we experienced last summer, I hope this new city data will serve as a reminder of the very-real impact rising temperatures are having on our lives and inspire people up and down the country to prevent their communities from getting even warmer.”

The global biodiversity stripes can be downloaded and shared from the biodiversity stripes website.

*'Date to' varies by dataset and is stated on each set of stripes on the biodiversity stripes website.

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