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Science

Overview

WWF’s conservation work is grounded in science. Our scientists develop innovative approaches and apply the best available information to efforts directed at meeting the needs of both nature and people in a changing world.

WWF draws on biology, hydrology, oceanography, and the social sciences to advance cutting-edge conservation tools and methods, connect natural and social systems, and tackle emerging threats. Our scientists track conservation needs and lead regional and global analyses to identify and set priorities for the world’s valuable habitats and species. We also rely on the scientific process to ensure that our on-the-ground conservation programs are effective and producing measurable results.

The State of Our Planet

The Living Planet Index (LPI)—essentially the S&P 500 Index for wildlife—documents the populations of more than 3,000 wild species. And for the first time, species number less than one-half what they were in 1970.

Rhinos

What WWF Is Doing

We harness the power of science to advance conservation of the most important species and places. Scientific publications, computer-based tools, and data sets generated by WWF strengthen the integrity of conservation efforts worldwide. WWF’s seminar and symposia series foster scientific discourse and facilitate the cross-fertilization of ideas across sectors. Other conservation organizations, government agencies, and academic researchers regularly adopt WWF’s innovations.

Connecting Scientists

WWF employs a wealth of scientific expertise in its work around the world. Sharing information among WWF’s hundreds of dispersed scientists is critical to accelerating conservation. The WWF Conservation Science Network connects, supports and grows this community by providing access to the latest information and techniques, coordinating training and providing opportunities for collaboration.

Our planet is increasingly under pressure from human activity. To meet this challenge, WWF carries out rigorous scientific analyses of conservation questions that explore the relationship between people and nature. With this work, WWF leads global efforts to develop the emerging field of conservation social science.

Natural ecosystems support livelihoods and economies in countless ways: they store carbon to slow climate change, purify and regulate water supplies, pollinate crops, and provide food and medicine. WWF scientists quantify these benefits and map their sources so the value of these ecosystem services can be included in resource-use decisions.

WWF scientists use new technology to answer key conservation questions. Wireless internet, global telecommunication systems, cloud computing, online mapping, and smart phones help us approach scientific research in new ways. Our analyses enable decision makers and field practitioners to quickly incorporate the best information into their work.

WWF scientists are leading an effort to determine which conservation strategies are working well, which need improving, and, most importantly, why. They are doing this through “impact evaluation,” a new application of the scientific method that draws upon best practices in the medical and education sectors.

The Kathryn Fuller Science for Nature Fund supports and harnesses the most promising conservation science research and puts it into practice. Named in honor of the former president and CEO of WWF-US, the fund supports an annual Science for Nature Symposium featuring global leaders in science, policy, and conservation. Additionally, a regular seminar series provides a regular forum for the conservation community to learn, discuss, and network.

WWF scientists and colleagues research climate change impacts and analyze data to find ways to build resilience for vulnerable people, species, and their habitats. We strive to provide practical solutions for conserving biodiversity by developing a new paradigm of "climate-smart" conservation that focuses on best practices to reduce vulnerability and enhance resilience by putting nature at the center of sustainable development.

Projects

  • 2013 Fuller Symposium: Forces for Nature

    The 2013 Fuller Symposium explored how local and indigenous communities can empower themselves by managing their own natural resources—and in turn become a global force for conservation. This year’s one day event took place on November 13, 2013 at the National Geographic Society’s headquarters in Washington, D.C.

  • 2012 Fuller Symposium: Conservation Crime

    Global leaders shared their insights on the growing crisis of wildlife crime at the 2012 Fuller Symposium. The symposium was held on November 14, 2012 at the National Geographic Society in Washington, D.C.

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Experts