- Date: December 23, 2009
From the Amazon to the Arctic, WWF is building a future where human needs are met in harmony with nature. We are strategically focusing on conserving critical places and species while also working to reduce humanity's ecological footprint. Our experts are active at every level, collaborating with governments, industry and communities the world over to conserve the largest tropical rain forests, the most diverse coral reefs, and the world’s most endangered species.
Here are a few highlights of WWF’s successes in 2009 made possible by your generous support.
WWF works to conserve species around the world, including giant pandas, tigers, polar bears, rhinos, elephants, and great apes. These magnificent creatures not only need special measures and extra protection in order to survive, they also serve as umbrella species: helping them helps countless other species that live in the same habitats. Our efforts to protect threatened species include combating illegal wildlife trade, which we accomplish through the tireless work of our experts at TRAFFIC.Combating Tiger Trade
As we approach the International Year of the Tiger, tiger numbers are plummeting due to an onslaught of illegal wildlife trade, habitat loss and degradation, and human-tiger conflict. WWF’s response has been rapid and methodical: we have ramped up our anti-poaching efforts on the ground while using the strength of the WWF network and our partnerships with governments and other NGOs to combat other leading threats to tiger populations in the wild.
In July, the World Bank called for a ban on tiger farming because of the potential impacts of the practice on the long-term conservation of tigers in the wild. WWF provided significant guidance to the World Bank through the development and launch of its Global Tiger Initiative, which marks the first time the World Bank has been involved with species conservation. Our partnership with the World Bank opens up unprecedented opportunities for reaching political leaders and financial institutions as we continue the battle to protect these incredible creatures.
WWF’s Northern Great Plains Program celebrated two major milestones this spring with our bison herd. WWF established the herd to restore genetically pure free-roaming bison to the plains of Montana. Our vision is to create one of the largest conservation herds in the United States, with approximately 300 bison roaming over 30,000 acres of available habitat. This spring the conservation herd moved from a 2,000-acre pasture into their expansive new 15,000-acre range. We also celebrated the births of 15 bison calves, bringing our conservation herd to the 100-member mark. We have come a long way since our first 16 bison arrived in October 2005 and are extremely optimistic about the future of our herd.
Our work in the Democratic Republic of Congo exemplifies how much our success is dependent on local political circumstances and involves protecting human needs as much as those of endangered species. The number of mountain gorillas in Virunga National Park, Democratic Republic of Congo, has increased despite war being waged in and around the area, according to the first population count in 16 months. Because the breakdown of law and order and rebel presence has led to the displacement of over one million people – resulting in increased stress on the Park and its natural resources – WWF has partnered with the United Nations and other organizations to provide firewood from sustainable sources and improved fuel-efficient cooking stoves to alleviate pressure on Virunga National Park’s forests and the creatures that live in them.
Conserving Marine Environments
Oceans cover more than 70 percent of the Earth's surface and harbor extraordinary levels of biodiversity. While it was thought for decades that the resources of the seas were inexhaustible, habitat destruction, overfishing, climate change and pollution now severely threaten marine biodiversity and important fisheries. WWF is using the latest scientific methods to develop marine conservation plans that protect healthy fish stocks and ensure the future of species like marine turtles, whales and dolphins.
The Presidents and Prime Ministers of Indonesia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, Solomon Islands, and Timor Leste adopted one of the most comprehensive and specific plans for ocean conservation when they launched the new Coral Triangle Initiative on Coral Reefs, Fisheries, and Food Security in May 2009 at the Coral Triangle Summit. This 10-year plan establishes time-bound steps to address growing threats to the Coral Triangle's reefs, fisheries, mangroves, threatened species and other marine and coastal areas as well as the 120 million people living in the area who depend on the ocean for their livelihoods and protein source.
After the tanker ship Jessica spilled 240,000 gallons of fuel into the waters surrounding the Galápagos Islands in 2001, WWF and PetroEcuador, the state-owned oil company, identified fuel transportation and storage as a major environmental concern. WWF partnered with Toyota to immediately begin renovations on the primary facility in Baltra, which included replacing the old, leaking tanks and installing a state-of-the art computer system to monitor tank levels and facility operations. With the completion of this project and its certification as being environmentally sound, WWF has achieved a milestone in our effort to protect one of the world’s most precious and historically significant eco-regions and preserve the livelihoods of the many people who depend on these islands for their survival.
As part of our global efforts to promote fisheries by-catch reduction, WWF’s East Africa Marine Ecoregion program hosted the 2009 Smart Gear Competition, a contest designed to inspire innovative ideas for environmentally-friendly fishing gear. The competition received 17 entries from East Africa - the highest rate of participation since the competition started in 2004.This year’s competition featured a special East African Marine prize of $7,500 which was awarded to Samwel B. Bikkens of Kenya’s Moi University for his device known as “The Selector.” The invention makes use of fish responses to light and water movement to address a bycatch problem in Lake Victoria, the largest lake in East Africa and an important fishery in the region.
Partnering for Results
The challenges we face are enormous and our response needs to be of an equivalent scale. Although WWF is unique in the size and scale of our operations, we still need strong partnerships to influence the course of conservation. We realize that alone we cannot hope to achieve our ambitious mission. It is by leveraging the strengths of our collaborations and supporters that we are able to accomplish our greatest successes.Working with The Coca-Cola Company to Protect Freshwater Sources
WWF and The Coca-Cola Company are working together to conserve seven of the world’s most important freshwater systems. More than a dozen production plants and/or bottlers in the areas surrounding these rivers are developing and implementing water stewardship plans to serve as models throughout the Coca-Cola system. In 2009, we made significant progress in many of the target locations including our work to restore the Rio Grande.
WWF received an unprecedented opportunity to help shape the future of conservation in Bhutan when the Royal Government invited WWF to co-manage the new Wangchuck Centennial National Park, the second largest protected area in Bhutan. This is the first time Bhutan has entrusted an entity other than government to manage a protected area, thus representing a significant paradigm shift in Bhutan’s policy of natural resource management. WWF has worked to preserve Bhutan’s rich biodiversity and natural heritage for decades and is the only international conservation organization with a permanent presence in the country. This partnership is a strong affirmation of our unique relationship with the Royal Government and signifies our firm commitment to protect this breathtaking landscape.
In June, WWF announced a partnership with the Fundación Carlos Slim, the Mexican Federal Government and other partners on an initiative to establish Mexico as a global model for conservation by protecting its rich natural heritage and promoting sustainable development within six priority regions that collectively represent 30 percent of the country. The goal is to support biodiversity preservation in areas of exceptional natural richness. These include the Gulf of California, Chihuahuan Desert, Mesoamerican Reef of Mexico, Oaxaca, Monarch Butterfly Region and Chiapas (Lacandona Forests and El Triunfo). Conserving these landscapes will help protect species like the vaquita, Kemp’s Ridley turtle, jaguar, monarch butterfly, red macaw, spider monkey and quetzal.
The Many Aspects of Climate Change
Climate change has been a priority for WWF for over 20 years as climate disruption poses a fundamental threat to the vulnerable places, species and people we seek to protect. WWF is leading the way by assessing the potential impacts of climate change and taking steps to reduce the vulnerabilities. We also are aggressively promoting efforts to reduce global emissions of greenhouse gases to limit the average global temperature increase to within 2°C compared to preindustrial times.Preparing the Case for Climate Change
In February, the WWF-sponsored Catlin Arctic Survey team ventured out from Canada’s Arctic islands by foot towards the North Pole to help provide important information about the future of the Arctic sea ice. Taking 73 days to complete, the survey covered 270 miles, during which the team captured 16,000 observations and took 1,500 measurements of the thickness and density of the ice. This survey was the only on-the-ground information about ice thickness coming out of the Arctic this year. The results will help climate scientists around the world to understand how quickly the dwindling summer sea ice will melt and to predict more accurately the effect this will have on the global climate.Working with the US Government
The passage of the American Clean Energy and Security Act by the U.S. House of Representatives was America's biggest step to date in responding to the energy and climate crises. WWF actively engaged in awareness-building on Capitol Hill to help shape the legislation to ensure that it set the stage for constructive international negotiations in Copenhagen this December. There, WWF joined representatives from 192 countries to negotiate a global accord on climate change. The resulting agreement highlights the huge amount of ground that still needs to be covered in 2010 to protect the planet from the worst effects of climate change.Developing Adaptation Strategies
WWF is actively developing climate change adaptation strategies that address climate change issues that are already impacting the world’s economies, communities and ecosystems. With the help of government agencies, local communities, and partner conservation and research groups, WWF is developing adaptation strategies in critical conservation landscapes across the globe. For example, WWF is working in the Caribbean to quantify the impacts that climate change will have on the global population of hawksbill turtles. We are identifying nesting beaches with greater elevation ranges or with inland migration options and working with coastal development planners to keep nesting beach options open as the land/seascape changes.