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Tackling Environmental Threats

Overview

Oil and Gas development

Extracting oil and gas deposits can result in lasting damage to the environment, including the disruption of migratory pathways, degradation of important animal habitats, and oil spills

In order for WWF’s conservation work to achieve large-scale and long-lasting success, we must tackle the underlying causes of environmental degradation. WWF takes an innovative, collaborative, science-based approach to tackle threats to biodiversity. We also look to the root of these threats—the factors that currently favor or allow damaging or unsustainable activities.

WWF works to develop and implement new and more sustainable ways of growing crops, managing fisheries, forests and wetlands, generating energy, and dealing with waste. We also look at opportunities to transform markets—where and how companies and their supply chains obtain and process vital commodities. WWF cannot achieve our goals alone. Strong partnerships with businesses, governments and local communities are essential for driving change.

By understanding and engaging with the key actors behind these impacts—organizations, businesses, communities, and individuals—we can ensure long-term biodiversity conservation and sustainable footprints.

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US permanently protects some of the Arctic's most important marine areas

Just one week after scientists warned of unprecedented change brought on by warming in the Arctic, President Obama announced permanent protection for 115 million acres of federal waters in the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas. Including previous presidential withdrawals, today's action protects nearly 125 million acres in the offshore Arctic from future oil and gas activity.

sea ice in the Arctic

What WWF Is Doing

Climate Change

From polar bears in the Arctic to marine turtles off the coast of Africa, our planet’s diversity of life is at risk from climate change. Sea levels are rising and oceans getting warmer. Longer, more intense droughts threaten crops, wildlife and freshwater supplies. Climate change poses a fundamental threat to the places, species and people’s livelihoods WWF works to protect. WWF works on both global and local levels to help people and nature adapt to a changing climate. We advance policies to fight climate change and combat deforestation. WWF engages with businesses to reduce carbon emissions. At the same time, we also challenge U.S. cities to prepare for more extreme weather and other consequences of climate change.

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Bycatch

Bycatch Thrown Overboard, Mexico

The incidental capture of non-target species such as dolphins, marine turtles and seabirds in fishing gear—known as bycatch—threatens a staggering amount of sea life. WWF works to find solutions to the bycatch problem by working with fisheries and finding solutions through new technologies. WWF created the International Smart Gear Competition to attract new ideas and develop innovative fishing technology that would reduce bycatch problems in fisheries around the globe. Winning entries have resulted in effective solutions to prevent bycatch of marine turtles and seabirds.

Deforestation

Forests offer vital oxygen and provide homes for people and wildlife. Around the world, forests are under threat from deforestation in many forms—fires, clear-cutting for agriculture, ranching and development, unsustainable logging for timber, and degradation due to climate change. WWF has been working to protect forests for more than 50 years. We work with governments, companies, communities and other stakeholders so that forests can be secured and local economies can still benefit from their resources. With a focus on protected areas management and sustainable forestry, WWF strives to promote certification for responsible forest management practices, combat illegal logging, reform trade policies and protect forested areas.

Illegal Wildlife Trade

Shelves of elephant tusks confiscated from poachers

Wildlife crime is now the most urgent threat to three of the world’s best-loved species—elephants, rhinos and tigers. Poachers have killed tens of thousands of African elephants for their ivory tusks. After a century of decline, tiger numbers are on the rise. At least 3,890 tigers remain in the wild, but much more work is needed to protect this species that’s still vulnerable to extinction. WWF works to save wildlife and people from becoming victims of wildlife crime. Much of our work to stop illegal wildlife trade is done with TRAFFIC, the wildlife trade monitoring network. We tackle wildlife crime from an informed and global standpoint, collaborating with other partners, including conservation organizations, local communities and governments.

Oil and Gas Development

Extracting oil and gas deposits can result in lasting damage to the environment, including the disruption of migratory pathways, degradation of important animal habitats, and oil spills. These spills pose a serious threat to ecosystems—whether they happen in the Congo Basin, the Timor Sea, or in the Arctic. Furthermore, in the Arctic, there is no proven, effective method to clean up oil in ice. WWF advocates for responsible development in areas where oil and gas may occur. If development does transpire, WWF wants to ensure it is done as safely and responsibly as possible. In the Arctic, we are working to identify the most important and sensitive places for wildlife and communities. Once identified, we must make certain these areas are off limits to oil and gas drilling.