Nature is being destroyed by humans at a rate never seen before, according to the conservation group the World Wildlife Fund (WWF).
The WWF says population sizes of mammals, birds, fish, amphibians and reptiles have fallen by an average of 68 per cent in fewer than 50 years. That means globally more than two thirds of these animal numbers have been lost.
The organisation's Living Planet Report says farming and deforestation are two of the major causes, while over-fishing is a big problem for life in the ocean and fresh waters.
The WWF says the destruction of ecosystems means a million species (500,000 animals and plants, and 500,000 insects) will be threatened with extinction over the next 100 years.
A loss of wildlife on this scale is normally seen over millions of years, which is why scientists are worried. Tanya Steele, Chief Executive at the WWF, said: "We are wiping wildlife from the face of the planet, burning our forests, polluting and over-fishing our seas and destroying wild areas. We are wrecking our world - the one place we call home - risking our health, security and survival here on Earth."
The Living Planet Report is produced every two years by the WWF, along with experts it looks at how well the natural world is doing, what threats it faces and what humans need to do to fix the problems. "In the UK we need to fast-track tough new nature laws that protect our wildlife at home and abroad, and with the COP26 summit in Glasgow next year the government has a huge opportunity to show global leadership in securing urgent commitments and action from world leaders," Tanya Steele said.
"Only by putting the environment at the heart of our decision making can we build a safe and resilient future for nature, people and our planet." The WWF's Living Planet Report has analysed the populations of 21 thousand animal species around the world.
Globally, the biggest loss of wildlife populations seen anywhere on Earth has been in the Caribbean and South America. In the country of Costa Rica, the numbers of Leatherback turtles seen at at Tortuguero beach have reduced by 84%.
Leatherback turtles journey to the beaches to lay their eggs, however the eggs are often stolen and the turtles themselves are hunted for their shells which can be sold illegally. Warming oceans also force leatherbacks on longer more difficult journeys to feed. The report also blames the loss of wildlife globally on other human activities that have destroyed important ecosystems.
Fresh water ecosystems are the most threatened on Earth, with too much fishing and structures such as dams affecting the food source for lots of animals.
Research shows that almost one in three freshwater species now face extinction with larger animals such as hippos, river dolphins, sturgeon and beavers said to be the most at risk.
Elsewhere in the Central African Republic, 98% of the African elephant population has been lost, meaning the animal has almost been completely wiped out from the country. However there is some good news, the report says that many animal extinctions are preventable if we 'conserve and restore nature'.
Conservation efforts have seen positive results around the world, with legal protection for forest elephants in Ghana, blacktail reef sharks in Australia and tigers in Nepal resulting in large increases of animal numbers.
A conservation effort in Kenya and tougher action against poachers recently saw the population of elephant double in the country.
Dr Andrew Terry from the Zoological Society of London worked on the research and says: "If nothing changes, populations will undoubtedly continue to fall, driving wildlife to extinction and threatening the integrity of the ecosystems on which we all depend.
"But we also know that conservation works and species can be brought back from the brink. With commitment, investment and expertise, these trends can be reversed." The WWF says that changing our farming and the way we produce our food; tackling food waste and moving to healthier plant-based diets could all improve the planet's future.
The report says:
About 33% of land on our planet is now used for farming which can destroy wildlife habitats and ecosystems. Farming uses 75% of all fresh water used on Earth by humans. One third of food produced is never eaten. Roughly eight per cent of global green house gasses are caused by food waste as it decomposes. The WWF says: "food waste is a problem that we can address, and it would make a huge difference if we did." www.bbc.co.uk/