The Amazon is 'close to a point of no return' - a reality that impacts us all

Since 1970, populations of mammals, birds, fish, reptiles and amphibians plummeted by an average of 69 percent. ITV News US Correspondent Emma Murphy reports

Flying over the Amazon you go for hours seeing only pristine forest and, at times, can wonder just how serious its challenges are.

And then you hit the areas that are being the most assaulted. Where economic gains are made from environmental loss.

The money will be made, the money will be spent and the financial churn will continue. It’s not the same for the forest.

Some parts will recover but others won’t and environmentalists believe we are close to a point of no return.

ITV News' Emma Murphy reports from the Amazon, where remote indigenous communities face a toxic peril

One of the most shocking things I heard on our trip was that at a certain point the damage is such that the forest turns on itself and begins to self-degrade.

There is no coming back from that. WWF believes that without immediate action to protect the Amazon, mainly in Brazil, within eight years it will no longer be a functioning forest as we know it.

It will no longer be able to be a global protector against carbon dioxide. It will lose even more of its plant life, flora, fauna, animals and insects.

It’s bio-diversity will be lost. That will impact near and far, forever.

WWF CEO Tanya Steele explains how the UK government is complicit in deforestation of the Amazon rainforest

WWF’s Living Planet report

The WWF's latest report assesses the abundance of almost 32,000 populations of 5,230 species of animals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and fish around the world and how they have changed over the decades.

It reveals population sizes declined by 69% on average between 1970 and 2018, driven largely by the loss and break-up of natural habitat for agriculture, while climate change is also increasingly a threat to wildlife.

The worst declines are in Latin America, which suffered a 94% fall in wildlife populations. It has been partly caused by the loss of habitat to make way for agricultural production and resource extraction, including illegal gold mining, the conservation charity said. Experts said the Amazon is fast approaching a tipping point where it will cease to be a functioning rainforest, without which the world cannot avert dangerous global warming. If “we lose the Amazon, we lose that fight” against climate change, WWF chief executive Tanya Steele warned.

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