The natural systems that support life on earth, from the Amazon forests to coral reefs, are close to the tipping point of collapse because of human activities, a new study on the global biodiversity said on Monday.

The third edition of the Global Biodiversity Outlook confirmed that the world has failed to achieve targets for a significant reduction of the rate of biodiversity loss by 2010.

The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) report warned that there will be “a severe reduction of many essential services to human societies as several ‘tipping points’ are approached in which the ecosystems shift to alternative, less productive states from which it may be difficult or impossible to recover.” UNEP, which serves as the secretariat for the UN Convention of Biological Diversity, cited large areas in the Amazon that are dying because of the interactions of climate change, deforestation and fires. The changes affect global climate, regional rainfall and widespread species extinctions.

It said the coral reef ecosystems are suffering multiple collapses due to ocean acidification, bleaching from warmer water, overfishing and pollution. As a result, millions of species that live on the reefs are threatened. It cited also the shrinking of freshwater lakes and loss of recreational amenities for people.

The third Global Biodiversity Outlook, produced with the help of Canada, was issued to support efforts in 2010, designated as International Year of Biodiversity. It called for governments to adopt a new vision and creativity to halt the dramatic loss of nature’s diversity, saying that effective and coordinated actions can save the natural habitat.

Outlook was supported by scientific assessments, reports submitted by governments and a study on future scenarios for biodiversity.

Urgent action is needed to reduce land—based pollution and destructive fishing practices that weaken the coral reefs, which make them more vulnerable to climate change, the authors said.

“Many economies remain blind to the huge value of the diversity of animals, plants and other lifeforms and their role in healthy and functioning ecosystems, from forests and freshwater to soils, oceans and even the atmosphere,” said Achim Steiner, UNEP executive director.

“Humanity has fabricated the illusion that somehow we can get by without biodiversity or that it is somehow peripheral to our contemporary world,” he said. “The truth is we need it more than ever on a planet of 6.8 billion people heading to 9 billion people in 2050.”

Keywords: Nature's diversity