Global conservation experts have issued a code red alert for the state of nature as human exploitation pushes the planet’s life support systems to the brink.
A joint report by WWF and the Zoological Society of London shows that wildlife populations have plummeted around the world.
And the charity warned the new UK government not to be “complicit” in further destruction of nature by rolling back decades of environmental protection.
The comprehensive Living Planet Index shows global populations of key wildlife species have slumped by an average of 69% in less than 50 years.
It blames logging, agriculture and other human exploitation for shrinking the habitats that wildlife depends on.
Tanya Steele, chief executive of WWF-UK, told Sky News: “If wildlife can’t survive, then neither can we.
“We know that nature is the lynchpin in our fight against climate change.
“All the projections, everything that the climate scientists are telling us is that there should be more nature on earth if we want to keep dangerous levels of global warming to 1.5C.”
The Living Planet Index is compiled every two years and tracks almost 32,000 populations of 5,230 species.
It shows that the region under greatest threat is South and Central America where population numbers have fallen by 94%.
Logging and loss of forest to agriculture were key factors. Already 17% of the original Amazon forest has been lost, with a further 17% degraded.
Unless there is rapid action to save what remains the rainforest is likely to reach a tipping point where it irreversibly turns into dry savanna.
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But WWF is also concerned about the threat to environmental protections in the UK.
It has joined other wildlife groups in warning that new government policies which encourage economic growth with fewer regulations could further deplete nature.
Applications by local authorities to be one of the government’s new investment zones close on Friday.
And rules that have safeguarded air and water quality, habitats, and vulnerable plants and animals could also be ripped up in a bonfire of red tape.
Ms Steele said: “We are incredibly concerned.
“The UK is one of the most nature depleted countries on the planet and we know that a healthy society and a healthy economy are dependent on a thriving natural world.
“We do need this administration of Prime Minister Truss to not be complicit in the destruction of nature, both here in the UK but also around the world.”
The WWF wants legislation to remove products from British shops that are linked to deforestation in other countries.
It is also urging the government to take a lead in putting forward a nature action plan at a global biodiversity summit in Canada in December.
“Despite the science, the catastrophic projections, the burning forests, submerged countries, record temperatures and displaced millions, world leaders continue to sit back and watch our world burn in front of our eyes,” Ms Steele added.
The government said it is committed to reversing the decline in nature by 2030.