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Updated: 6 hours 31 min ago

First ever tagging of Amazon dolphins to boost conservation efforts

5. December 2017 - 1:00
For the first time ever, WWF and research partners  are now tracking river dolphins in the Amazon using satellite technology after scientists successfully tagged dolphins in Brazil, Colombia and Bolivia, attaching small transmitters that will provide new insights into the animals' movements and behaviour and the growing threats they face.

As of today, 11 dolphins, including both Amazonian and Bolivian river dolphins – two of the four species of freshwater dolphin found in the world's largest river system – have safely been tagged and researchers are already studying the incoming data.

Despite their iconic status, little is known about the populations, habits or key habitats of river dolphins in the Amazon. While there are estimated to be tens of thousands of river dolphins, the species are currently listed as Data Deficient on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. The tags will enable WWF and its partners to study where the dolphins go, where they feed, and how far they migrate.

"Satellite tracking will help us better understand the lives of this iconic Amazonian species more than ever before, helping to transform our approach to protecting them and the entire ecosystem," said Marcelo Oliveira, WWF Conservation Specialist, who led the expedition in Brazil. "Tagging these dolphins is the start of a new era for our work because we will finally be able to map where they go when they disappear from sight."

The tracking data will also guide efforts to tackle some of the major threats facing river dolphins, including hundreds of planned dams that would fragment many of the Amazon's remaining free flowing rivers, worsening mercury contamination from small-scale gold mining, and illegal fishing.

"We who live in the Amazon know that our environment is facing growing and unprecedented threats and that our future is linked to the future of dolphins," said Fernando Trujillo from Fundación Omacha, a Colombian research partner.

"This tagging project is critical because it will generate information that will enable governments across the region to target resources to protect dolphins and their habitats, which so many other species and communities also depend on," added Trujillo.
 
The capture and tagging of the dolphins followed a rigid protocol that prioritises the welfare of the animals. Having been caught in nets by teams of specialists, the dolphins were taken to shore for tagging in an operation lasting 15 minutes on average, before being released back into the water. None of the dolphins were injured during the operation and none displayed any ill effects after release.
 
Along with installing the transmitters, the scientists also took samples from the animals, which they will analyse for mercury levels and general health.

WWF and its partners will assess this historic tagging operation over the coming months and will look to scale it up and tag more dolphins if the technology continues to prove successful. The initiative is the latest step in WWF's long-term efforts to conserve river dolphins across the Amazon.
 
In addition to scientific research, WWF will continue to work with communities, advocate with authorities and promote the creation of new protected areas.

Eleventh hour support for vaquitas at CITES meeting but urgent action still needed on tackling illegal wildlife trade globally

2. December 2017 - 1:00

Geneva, 2 December 2017 - The 69th meeting of the Standing Committee of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) has come to a close in Geneva having tackled the largest agenda with the largest number of participants ever.

 

In the final hour of the week-long session, Mexico, China and the United States made a surprise agreement to convene a high-level diplomatic mission to help stop the extinction of the vaquita, the world's smallest porpoise, commonly referred to as the 'Panda of the Sea'.

 

The government of Mexico raised the issue noting the severity of the crisis facing vaquitas, and was supported by the United States and China. The high-level mission will support the much needed actions to address the significant challenges faced in ending the illegal totoaba fishing and trafficking.

 

Leigh Henry, Director of Wildlife Policy at WWF-US, said:

 

"It's been said before that it's the eleventh hour to save the vaquita: there are fewer than thirty individuals remaining and illegal fishing of totoaba is driving this elusive porpoise to extinction.

 

"Coming at the close of the meeting, Mexico's willing support for a high-level mission to assist their efforts to combat the illegal totoaba trade grants the world's most endangered marine mammal a lifeline. Drowning in nets set for totoaba is the only known threat to vaquita in their habitat."

 

WWF works with Mexico, as well as the US and China, to implement urgent measures to save the vaquita, and to secure a gillnet-free Upper Gulf of California that supports both their survival and the livelihoods of local communities.

 

The CITES meeting also discussed other pressing wildlife trade issues impacting some of the planet's most endangered species.

 

The Committee sent a strong message to Lao PDR on a number of issues including tiger farms, Siamese rosewood, legislation and enforcement, and widespread illegal wildlife markets.

 

Rob Parry-Jones, WWF's lead on wildlife crime said:

"Lao's inadequate enforcement is facilitating widespread illegal trade in threatened species, including tiger, elephant and rhino. We appreciate the cooperative spirit that they showed in the meeting but this must be followed by action as a matter of urgency."

 

Laos has to submit a detailed and time-bound plan of action by the end of the year, and a progress report by end of June 2018. Failure to submit the implementation plan or to demonstrate adequate progress could result in sanctions against the country.

 

Regarding pangolins, the Secretariat interpreted the provisions of the Convention to allow commercial trade in pangolin stocks acquired before the trade ban came into force in January 2017, but this view was rejected by majority vote.

 

Colman O Criodain, WWF's wildlife policy manager said:

"We were surprised by the Secretariat's interpretation. Had it stood it could have facilitated widespread unsustainable and illegal trade."

 

The Committee also struggled to agree on robust recommendations on the issue of Madagascar's ebonies, rosewoods and palisanders. Madagascar was seeking leave to sell its stockpiles of these valuable timbers, despite the fact that none of these stocks have been audited to date and that there is large-scale illegal trade. Fortunately this request was rejected.

 

Michel Masozera, WWF's deputy leader for wildlife for Africa said:

"The widespread illegal logging of precious timbers from the World Heritage Site, the Rainforests of the Atsinanana, undermines livelihood and development options for Madagascar and damages the habitat of unique species such as lemurs. The international community must act to bring this scandal to an end."

 

The impact of wildlife crime can be devastating for nature and communities as the illegal ivory trade has shown. The Committee specifically debated the situation regarding countries implicated in illegal ivory trade.

 

WWF-Hong Kong's Cheryl Lo said:

"We were disappointed that Japan and Singapore were not asked to prepare national ivory action plans, as many other countries have been required to do, given that both are implicated in illegal trade. We were pleased that many other countries including China, Viet Nam, Kenya, Tanzania and Qatar were retained in the scrutiny process. WWF urges all countries that have domestic markets that contribute to poaching and illegal trade to close those markets as a matter of urgency."

 

On other matters, Japan failed to persuade the Committee that its hunting of Sei whales in international waters – the meat of which is sold in Japanese markets - is primarily for scientific purposes end eligible for exemption from normal CITES rules. This parallels the very long debate that has gone unresolved in at the International Whaling Commission and in the International Court of Justice over Japan's controversial "scientific" whaling.

The Secretariat will seek to visit Japan and a final decision will be taken at the next meeting of the Standing Committee in October 2018.

 

Aimee Leslie, WWF's cetacean expert said:

"This is the last chance for Japan. "We call on Japan to end this take forthwith, as we share the prevailing view that it is in breach of CITES rules."

 

 

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For more information, please contact:

 

Lianne Mason | WWF International | Media Manager | lmason@wwfint.org | +65 9100 2437

 

About WWF

WWF is one of the world's largest and most respected independent conservation organizations, with over 5 million supporters and a global network active in over 100 countries. WWF's mission is to stop the degradation of the Earth's natural environment and to build a future in which humans live in harmony with nature, by conserving the world's biological diversity, ensuring that the use of renewable natural resources is sustainable, and promoting the reduction of pollution and wasteful consumption. Visit www.panda.org/news for latest news and media resources and follow us on Twitter @WWF_media.

WWF statement on Stiegler's Gorge

29. November 2017 - 1:00

WWF is today asking potential investors, banks and construction companies not to invest in or lend to controversial hydropower dam Stiegler's Gorge, until a full Strategic Environmental Assessment has been carried out. Proposed to be built at the heart of Selous Game Reserve, a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Tanzania, WWF wants the true impacts of the dam to first be assessed and the World Heritage Committee to give its approval. The proposed dam would endanger the livelihoods of 200,000 local people and the reserve's rare wildlife, such as elephants and black rhinos, would be placed under even greater threat.

WWF wants to ensure that investors, banks and construction companies are aware of these risks, as well as the opportunities around alternative renewable energy sources in Tanzania that don't carry the negative consequences for the nature and the people who depend on this World Heritage site.

 

Anthony Field, WWF-International campaign manager, said:


"UNESCO has a clear position that dam projects that harm World Heritage sites should not be built. So far no assessment has been carried out for Stiegler's Gorge hydropower project. Companies who become involved in the project run the risk of significant reputational damage. We are asking investors, banks and those in the construction industry that work on dams to add Stiegler's Gorge to their risk register."

 

FURTHER INFORMATION

 

WWF commissioned research on the impacts of the dam that highlighted the large risks to the ecology, economy and livelihoods. In the Selous Game Reserve, it will create one of the largest reservoirs in East Africa, flooding 1,200km2 including critical habitat for black rhinos. It will impact on current tourism in Selous as well as future potential tourism that the World Bank and German Government are investing in. Its impacts will stretch far downstream.

 

The project is against Tanzanian law as no Strategic Environmental Assessment has been carried out in advance of the planning for the project and tender being issued.

 

The risk has been recognised by UNESCO World Heritage Committee and its statutory advisor the IUCN who have highlighted "the high likelihood of serious and irreversible damage to the Outstanding Universal Value of the property resulting from the Stiegler's Gorge Hydropower project" and have urged the Tanzania state party to abandon the project. In addition UNESCO World Heritage Committee has a position against dams with large reservoirs that harm World Heritage properties.

 

The natural characteristics of the site on which this project is proposed will make it near impossible to satisfy best practice environmental due diligence standards on Hydroelectric from the International Finance Corporation, particularly in relation to mitigating impacts on indigenous persons, water, protected areas and endangered species. This leaves investors possibly exposed to grievance procedures brought by civil society through, for instance, the OECD Guidelines on Multinational Enterprises.

 

More information about WWF's work to protect the Selous Game Reserve UNESCO World Heritage Site can be found here:  https://makeyourmark.panda.org/selous

 

In April 2016 WWF launched a campaign, Together, Saving Our Shared Heritage, which aims to safeguard natural World Heritage sites. Over 1.5 million people have taken advocacy actions to political and business leaders including the leaders of Belize, Bulgaria, Spain, Mexico and Tanzania: https://makeyourmark.panda.org/

Revealed: New WWF report unveils the unseen benefits of saving wild tigers

27. November 2017 - 1:00
Money invested by governments, aid agencies and funds raised by supporters across the globe to save wild tigers have unseen benefits for Asia's wildlife and millions of people, according to a new WWF report - Beyond the Stripes: Save tigers, save so much more.
 
Tiger landscapes - which range from the world's largest mangrove forests in the Sundarbans, to temperate forests in the snowy mountains of Bhutan - overlap with globally-important ecosystems, many of which are part of Asia's last wilderness. These biodiversity-rich areas harbour a wealth of critically important goods and services that millions of people rely on, from mitigating climate change and safeguarding freshwater to reducing the impact of natural disasters and improving the health of local people.
 
The report highlights that securing tiger landscapes could help protect at least nine major watersheds, which regulate and provide freshwater for up to 830 million people in Asia, including in urban areas across India, Malaysia and Thailand. Similarly, safeguarding tiger landscapes could, in turn, protect the last remaining forests critical for carbon sequestration, helping to mitigate climate change.
 
"Every dollar invested in saving the wild tiger also helps save many threatened species, and ecosystem services that are critical to millions of people," said Michael Baltzer, Leader of WWF Tigers Alive. "Protecting the vast landscapes where tigers thrive helps to regulate freshwater, reduce the impacts of climate change and provide a source of clean air, medicinal plants, jobs, and so much more."
 
Yet, wild tigers are endangered, and their habitats are threatened; having lost 95 per cent of their global range, the cats are now confined to fragmented populations in Asia's surviving forest habitats. Even in the remaining range where tigers roam, close to half (43 per cent) of the present suitable tiger habitat could soon be lost to unsustainable agriculture expansion and urbanization, the report warns.
 
Forest loss continues at an alarming rate in tiger range states. Malaysia and Indonesia are among the world's leading producers of carbon emissions linked to forest degradation. If such trends persist, more key tiger landscapes could switch from absorbing carbon to becoming net carbon emitters. In Sumatra alone, the only place in the world where tigers, orangutans and rhinos are found in the same habitat, deforestation has reduced natural forest cover by more than 50 per cent in the past three decades.
 
"The success of protecting wild tigers is a perfect indicator for Asia's sustainable development. With Asia's rapid economic expansion, prioritizing tiger conservation will significantly aid in securing natural capital that is necessary to meet the region's sustainable development goals," said Baltzer. "Protecting tiger landscapes achieves a win-win for tigers, and for our future generations. But if we fail to save wild tigers, we may fail to save much more."
 
As an apex predator, tigers need vast landscapes to thrive, sharing their home with many other endangered species, such as the Asian elephant, leopard, and orangutan. Protecting the tiger's habitat thus helps to protect other threatened wildlife, including endangered but lesser known species that would otherwise receive little support – such as the pignose frog that spends most of its life underground, and is found only in the mountainous Western Ghats of India, where tigers have helped to spearhead the protection of natural sites.
 
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Notes to Editor:
This report is launched on the seventh anniversary month of the St Petersburg Tiger Summit, where TX2 - the global goal to double the number of wild tigers by 2022 - was committed to by 13 tiger range governments in 2010.
 
Learn more about TX2 and how WWF is driving the global goal to double tigers at tigers.panda.org.
 
For photos, videos, and a full copy of the report, you may access them here. Or visit panda.org/savetigers for more.
 
For further information:
Jia Ling Lim | Communications Manager | WWF Tigers Alive
jllim@wwfnet.org
 
Lianne Mason | Media Manager | WWF International
lmason@wwfint.org
 
About WWF
WWF is one of the world's largest and most respected independent conservation organizations, with over 5 million supporters and a global network active in over 100 countries.  WWF's mission is to stop the degradation of the earth's natural environment and to build a future in which humans live in harmony with nature, by conserving the world's biological diversity, ensuring that the use of renewable natural resources is sustainable, and promoting the reduction of pollution and wasteful consumption.
panda.org/news for latest news and media resources 

New protected area in Congo basin is bigger than Switzerland

22. November 2017 - 1:00
The creation today of one of the world's largest wetland protected areas (WPA) in the Democratic Republic of Congo will help to conserve a critically important part of the Congo basin, providing greater protection for its rich biodiversity and securing vital water supplies for many communities.

Measuring almost 4.5 million hectares – an area larger than Switzerland – the Lufira Basin in southerastern DRC has been designated a wetland of international importance under the Ramsar convention. Covering a network of rivers, lakes, floodplains and swamp forests as well as four national protected areas, the massive new WPA is home to a wealth of wildlife, including many endemic fish, bird and reptile species and the rare Upemba lechwe.

The area also boasts some spectacular waterfalls including the 384-metre high Lofoï, which is the highest waterfall in Africa and the second highest in the world.

"WWF is delighted that this extraordinary wetland has been recognised as an area of international importance and will now be protected under Ramsar," said Bruno Perodeau, WWF DRC's Conservation Director. "Strengthening the protection of the Lufira Basin is a significant step towards effective conservation of this area and the long term welfare of communities that depend on this wetland and the unique wildlife that lives there."

It is symbolic that the creation of one the top 15 WPAs on earth comes just after the Climate Conference in Bonn given the increasing awareness about the role that healthy wetlands can play in climate change adaptation and mitigation. Along with helping to maintain water supplies and minimise the impact of extreme floods, some wetlands also act as important carbon sinks.

The new Ramsar site is the fourth in the DRC, bringing its total wetland area under protection to almost 12 million hectares.

"The Congo Basin is a global conservation priority and its future is dependent on the health of its countless rivers and other wetlands," said Perodeau. "WWF will continue working with the government and communities to improve the management of these areas especially in the light of growing global climate threats. Effective management will help to maintain the ecosystem services that the site already provides, and ensure that it remains resilient in the face of unpredictable environmental changes."

With the announcement of the Lufira Basin site, WWF has now supported the protection of over 105 million hectares of wetlands around the world under Ramsar in the past twenty years.

The designation of the new Ramsar site was supported by USAID along with German assistance.

The news also follows the designation in June of the largest transnational Ramsar site, Lac Télé Lac Tumba, which unified neighbouring wetland protected areas in DRC and the Republic of Congo. This unified site is home to the largest tropical peat bog in the world, which stores up to 30 billion tonnes of carbon, highlighting its important role in the fight against climate change

Unacceptable rise in catch quota for bluefin tuna! WWF protests

21. November 2017 - 1:00
Rome – Brussels – As the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) meeting closed its doors in Morocco, WWF is deeply disappointed with ICCAT's decision to drastically increase catch quotas for bluefin tuna when the recovery of the stock is not confirmed yet. WWF also deplores the lack of progress made to improve the fate of shortfin mako shark, blue shark and tropical tuna populations.

As WWF feared, ICCAT has adopted an increase in bluefin catch quotas up to 36,000 tonnes by 2020 which is the highest total allowable catch ever set for bluefin tuna. Scientists warn that bluefin tuna stock is not yet recovered and is expected to decrease with such a catch level.

"WWF is angered that ICCAT has chosen short-term economic profit when we had hoped for a long-term conservation victory" declared Alessandro Buzzi, Fisheries project manager at WWF.

WWF fears that the ICCAT scientific committee's weak and confusing advice may have led ICCAT to go for this drastic quota increase this year. WWF asks the scientific committee therefore to improve its methodology in order to deliver robust and clear scientific advice in the future.

"We have been fighting for the last 10 years to save bluefin tuna, we are so near recovery that it is a scandal to see ICCAT going back to business as usual; this could jeopardize all the progress we've made."
WWF welcomes the adoption of harvest control rules for North Atlantic albacore. This is the first time ICCAT has adopted this innovative approach, and it definitely paves the way for the long-term management of other ICCAT species.

WWF is dismayed that ICCAT did not establish catch limits for shortfin mako shark, when the population is at risk of collapse. Nevertheless WWF recognizes that the adopted plan for North Atlantic mako could be a positive first step, but only if nations implement the plan's measures in 2018 and start the process of rebuilding the stock in 2019 as agreed in the plan.

WWF regrets that no action has been taken for South Atlantic mako, which remains totally unregulated. Existing weak measures for blue shark stocks have also seen no improvement.

WWF is also very concerned that no decisions were made to stop overfishing of tropical tuna, undermining the current plans for bigeye tuna and yellowfin tuna, not respected by nations. WWF urges for the adoption of global best practices to reduce FAD-related juvenile mortality and bycatch. In addition, WWF asks for more observers on long liners and for strong control on all at-sea trans-shipment, to fight illegal fishing.

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Pictures and graph: http://bit.ly/2zZoOjd
 
Online feature The battle for the bluefin:
http://mediterranean.panda.org.bluefintuna.shorthand.com/
 
 
For more information:
Anne Rémy, WWF Mediterranean, Director of Communications, aremy@wwfmedpo.org,
+ 39 06 844 97 424, mobile + 39 338 66 06 287
Alessandro Buzzi, WWF Mediterranean, Fisheries Projects Manager, abuzzi@wwfmedpo.org,
+ 39 06 844 97 443, mobile + 39 346 23 57 481
 
 
 

Pavan Sukhdev named as new President of WWF International's Board

21. November 2017 - 1:00
Gland, Switzerland (21 November 2017) – The former head of UNEP's Green Economy Initiative, Pavan Sukhdev, has been named as the new President of WWF International's Board. Mr. Sukhdev replaces outgoing President Yolanda Kakabadse who steps down at the end of this year after eight years in the position.

The announcement came at WWF International's Board meeting on Sunday, 19 November 2017. Mr. Sukhdev served as Special Advisor and Head of UNEP's Green Economy Initiative from 2008 to 2011, working in partnership with numerous international and national bodies to deliver UNEP's influential report 'Towards a Green Economy'. 

"Pavan Sukhdev is a true thought leader in sustainability and a highly influential voice among policy makers. I am delighted that WWF will have such a respected personality as its next President," said Ms. Kakabadse.

Mr. Sukhdev was Study Leader (2008-2011) on the landmark project TEEB ('The Economics of Ecosystems & Biodiversity'), a global study commissioned by the G8+5 and hosted by UNEP. His work on sustainability and the economics of ecosystems and biodiversity has won him international acclaim, including the prestigious Gothenburg Award for Sustainable Development and the Blue Planet Prize. He is the Founder-CEO of GIST Advisory, a specialist consulting firm which helps governments and corporations discover, measure, value, and manage their impacts on natural and human capital.[1] In recognition of his continuing work in helping governments and corporations transition towards a Green Economy, UNEP appointed Pavan as the UNEP Goodwill Ambassador in the year 2012.[2] He was also selected as the "Personality of the Year" by Environmental Finance in 2010.[3] 

Marco Lambertini, Director-General of WWF International, said: "I am delighted to welcome Pavan Sukhdev as the next President of WWF International's Board. Pavan's passion and knowledge of the interdependence between economic and natural systems connect perfectly with WWF's higher ambition for impact, at a time when biodiversity and natural resources are under unprecedented pressure, but also at a time when recognition of the crucial role of natural systems to our well-being, social stability and economic development has never been greater.
 
"I would also like to thank and congratulate Yolanda Kakabadse who, for the past eight years, has served as President of the International Board of WWF. Yolanda's wisdom, passion and unwavering support have helped steer WWF through an exciting evolution as we strive for greater ambition and impact, and work toward our vision of a future where people and nature live in harmony."

Speaking after the Board meeting, Mr. Sukhdev said he was honoured to be asked to take over the Presidency of the Board:
 
"I am delighted to be joining WWF at such an exciting time as the organization emerges from a significant transformation and is defining new ways of working to make a difference at a scale that matters, to redefine humanity's relationship with the planet. This generation and WWF have a huge opportunity to build a sustainable future for all and momentum is on our side."
 
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For further information, photo and biography please contact:
Rebecca Clear | WWF International | rclear@wwfint.org or news@wwfint.org | +Mob 07909936628
 
Notes to Editors:
The President may serve up to two consecutive or non-consecutive four-year terms. External candidates, as well as Board members, are eligible to stand for the office of President; however, the terms of office of President may not exceed their terms as Board members.
The President also chairs WWF International's Council, being an advisory body constituted of the Chairs of the Boards of the national entities that constitute the WWF network.
Mr. Pavan Sukhdev's full biography can be consulted here

COP23 puts a strong focus on ambition, even as countries defer immediate action

17. November 2017 - 1:00
BONN, 17 November 2017 – As the UN climate talks end later today, WWF recognizes the progress made on laying the groundwork for increasing climate ambition up to 2020 and beyond, but notes that 2018 will be key for countries to clearly signal their intention to step up and enhance their climate plans. In the hours remaining, WWF urges parties to resolve the issues still pending.

A year after the Paris Agreement entered into force, negotiations over the past two weeks have seen countries come to agreement on critical issues of pre-2020 action and support, and the role of gender, local communities and Indigenous Peoples in climate action. However, much remains to be done to ensure we seize the small window of opportunity we have to achieve the objectives of this landmark climate accord. Governments must strengthen urgent action, finalize the Paris Agreement rulebook and decide collectively to review and strengthen ambition of post-2020 climate commitments urgently. 

"From the onset, the paradoxes at this COP have been many. Negotiators have gathered in Bonn under a Fiji Presidency and, as states deliberate on future action, cities, regions, businesses and communities have stepped up their efforts toward achieving the goals of the Paris Agreement. We also saw that despite the momentum seen in the corridors in Bonn, domestically countries are still falling behind" said Manuel Pulgar-Vidal, head of WWF's global climate and energy programme. "In a year marked by extreme weather disasters and potentially the first increase in carbon emissions in four years, the paradox between what we are doing and need to be delivering is clear: countries must act with greater climate ambition, and soon, to put us on a path to a 1.5°C future."

By raising the profile of pre-2020 action in the UNFCCC process, and agreeing on the design of a process to review and increase ambition through the Talanoa Dialogue, COP23 has provided important building blocks to move the spirit of the Paris Agreement forward. But success is far from guaranteed. The Polish presidency must complement, and aim to bolster, Fiji's efforts to accelerate progress towards finalizing the Rulebook that will guide the implementation of the Paris Agreement and ensure scaled up, predictable finance for developing countries, including for loss and damage.

"Two years ago, countries around the world were entrusted with an important mandate in Paris. Today, they are making progress but with the impacts of climate change accelerating, the pace and scale of the response is still insufficient. It is time to show bolder vision, innovation, and urgent action - domestically and on the international front - and build on the clear momentum we are seeing in our societies and economies already. We look to Poland to continue Fiji's legacy to translate the ambition and vision of the Paris Agreement into reality," added Pulgar-Vidal.

Countries are not the only ones taking action. Through the Marrakech Partnership for Global Climate Action, efforts underway by states and non-State actors - including cities, regions, business, investors, and civil society - to galvanize climate action were in the spotlight at COP23 in Bonn. The WWF 'PandaHub' Pavilion hosted a full programme of dialogues and events to showcase the value of collaboration and innovation to create a sustainable, resilient future for all.

In addition, the U.S. Climate Action Center brought together over 100 prominent leaders from U.S. state and local governments, private sector and academia showing the U.S.' commitment to remaining a global frontrunner in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. WWF is one of many organizations supporting the new generation of climate leaders who comprise the "We Are Still In"  movement, the largest U.S. coalition ever assembled in support of climate action. "Never before has a coalition of American business, state and local leaders come together under a common banner to drive climate action," said Lou Leonard, WWF's senior vice president of climate change and energy.  "By working together, they can ensure that the United States meets its commitment under the Paris Agreement while creating new jobs and creating a safer future for communities in America and around the world."

The 24th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP24) to the UNFCCC will take place from 3-14 December 2018, in Katowice, Poland.

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For further information:
Rucha Naware, WWF International, rnaware@wwfint.org; +447393776573
 
About WWF
WWF is one of the world's largest and most respected independent conservation organizations, with over 5 million supporters and a global network active in over 100 countries.  WWF's mission is to stop the degradation of the earth's natural environment and to build a future in which humans live in harmony with nature, by conserving the world's biological diversity, ensuring that the use of renewable natural resources is sustainable, and promoting the reduction of pollution and wasteful consumption.
 
panda.org/news for latest news and media resources
 

Bhutan, WWF and partners announce deal to permanently secure Bhutan's extensive network of protected areas

11. November 2017 - 1:00
THIMPHU, BHUTAN: The Royal Government of Bhutan, WWF, donors and partners from around the world today announced their commitment to create a USD $43 million fund—the first of its kind in Asia—to permanently protect Bhutan's network of protected areas.

This funding will be combined with USD $75 million from the Bhutan government, which will be contributed over a 14-year period, to support a new program called Bhutan for Life (BFL). The program, which is supported in part by a USD $26.6 million grant from the Green Climate Fund, will ensure that there is funding forever to properly manage Bhutan's protected areas—which constitute 51 percent of the country, the highest percentage of land designated as protected in Asia.

Proper management of the protected areas means the country's 2-million-hectare network of forests and rivers will be protected against poaching, illegal logging and other threats. Forests will be able to absorb carbon so Bhutan can maintain its commitment to being carbon neutral forever. Bhutan's rivers, which are part of a network of rivers that provide water for one-fifth of the world, will remain clean. The country's natural resources will support the livelihoods of much of the country's rural population, and help people be more resilient against the impacts of climate change. And iconic wildlife, such as Bengal tigers and Asian elephants, will be allowed to thrive in their natural habitat.

"It is in this protected areas network, and the wildlife corridors that connect them, that most of the country's treasured natural resources can be found," said Bhutan Prime Minister Dasho Tshering Tobgay. "However, these natural resources are at risk, as the country is changing fast. To address the increasing threats to our pristine environment, Bhutan needs a solid new conservation-friendly business plan: one that will not just protect, but will help grow the initial capital Bhutan has put into its incredible conservation efforts; and one that will allow both conservation and economic development to occur in a balanced, sustainable way, in perpetuity. That plan is in the form of BFL."

"Our natural resources are our most important asset," said WWF Bhutan Country Representative Dechen Dorji. "They are the foundation for our livelihoods, spiritual connectivity, happiness and our commitment to being carbon neutral. The farsighted conservation vision of the our great monarchs and Royal Government of Bhutan's leadership in adopting an innovative solution that guarantees permanent protection as well as effective management of our protected areas secures Bhutan's future and will enable Bhutan to serve as a powerful model for the world."

Those who showed their commitment today to support BFL included representatives from the Philipp Family Foundation, the Bedari Foundation and PlowShare Group, who provided initial preparation funding alongside WWF in 2014. Also attending were representatives of the Green Climate Fund, Global Environment Facility and additional private donors. Most were in Bhutan today, at a ceremony graced by Her Majesty the Queen of Bhutan. Earlier today, the Royal Government of Bhutan and WWF also signed a declaration of commitment for BFL, witnessed by donors and partners of BFL.
 
At the heart of this government of Bhutan and WWF-led initiative is a fund that will make annual payments, starting high and declining to zero over a projected period of 14 years. During this time, the government of Bhutan will gradually increase its funding to match the decline in donor funding. Thereafter, Bhutan will be positioned to fully fund all protected areas on its own. An independent board with representatives from the government of Bhutan, BFL donors and relevant experts will oversee the implementation of the BFL-funded activities for the next 14 years.
 
BFL uses an innovative financial approach called Project Finance for Permanence (PFP). The approach has been used by WWF, national governments and others in three countries. The largest PFP, ARPA for Life, resulted in a USD $215 million fund to permanently protect 150 million acres of the Brazilian Amazon.
 
WWF seeks to do additional PFPs around the world, using the Bhutan program and the other PFPs as models.
 
BFL donors include:
 Anonymous
Bedari Foundation
Bhutan Foundation
Jeffrey Boal : PlowShare Group, Inc.
Carmen Busquets
Tammy and Bill Crown
DT Families Foundation
Global Environment Facility
Green Climate Fund
Neville and Pamela Isdell
Michael and Diane Moxness
Nicolas Oltramare
Philipp Family Foundation
Anne Reece
Roger and Victoria Sant 
 
For more information, please contact:
Sonam Yangchen, Communications and Liaison Officer, Bhutan for Life, WWF Bhutan, syangchen@wwfbhutan.org.bt
 
About WWF
WWF is one of the world's largest and most respected independent conservation organizations, with over 5 million supporters and a global network active in over 100 countries. WWF's mission is to stop the degradation of the Earth's natural environment and to build a future in which humans live in harmony with nature, by conserving the world's biological diversity, ensuring that the use of renewable natural resources is sustainable, and promoting the reduction of pollution and wasteful consumption. Visit www.panda.org/news for the latest news and media resources and follow us on Twitter @WWF_media.

State of Play on Negotiations: Will COP23 Meet Ambition?

10. November 2017 - 1:00
Negotiators have just seven days to hammer out crucial details that will ensure the Paris Agreement stays on track to be fully operational by 2020. Specifically, key issues in the rules governing the Paris Agreement's implementation and important discussions about how countries can improve their national climate plans – due to be submitted by 2020 – must be agreed here at COP23.

Manuel Pulgar-Vidal, Leader of WWF's global climate and energy practice, and president of COP20, said:
"About a week in, we are at a time in the negotiations when the issues on the table, such as pre-2020 action, and loss and damage, are complex but essential to achieving the objectives of the Paris Agreement. Now is the time for the Fijian presidency - and for all of us - to step up and remind ourselves that it has been two years since the world entrusted decision-makers to build a climate safe and resilient future for all. If our ambition was high then, the stakes are even higher now and our collective vision cannot falter."
 
Naoyuki Yamagishi, head of climate and energy, WWF-Japan said:
"By the end of these negotiations, we need to finalize the roadmap for the next year to ensure all actors are ramping up their actions before 2020 and setting the foundations for the global stocktake. The decision negotiators make in the next seven days will largely shape our ability to accelerate action on the scale needed to keep the Paris Agreement's temperature goals in sight."
 
Fernanda Viana De Carvalho, policy manager of WWF's global climate & energy practice, said:
"This round of climate negotiations opened with a clear sense of urgency but this is yet to translate into the results we need to see to stave off the worst impacts of climate change. The next week must yield faster and greater progress on key issues, such as loss and damage, and pre-2020 ambitions, to ensure that 2018 will see countries raise ambition in both the short and the long term."
 
Sandeep Chamling Rai, Senior Advisor on Global Adaptation Policy, WWF-Singapore, said:
"These UN climate talks were always going to be a litmus test for progress on adaptation and loss and damage issues but as negotiations carry on, countries must remember the decisions they take will impact the lives of vulnerable communities and ecosystems for years to come. The world's most vulnerable people are looking to Bonn and countries, developed and developing, need to deliver on their promises and implement the full functions of the Warsaw International Mechanism and operationalization of Global Goal on Adaptation."

To arrange an interview with a WWF climate expert at COP23, please contact:                         
Scott Edwards (WWF-International) | sedwards@wwfint.org | + 44 788 7954 116

Towards Doubling Tigers in Royal Manas National Park

9. November 2017 - 1:00
A big win for tiger conservation efforts, the population of the endangered cat has doubled in Bhutan's Royal Manas National Park (RMNP) in just 6 years, as per the latest official study of tigers in the area.
 
From only 10 individual tigers in 2010, the number has risen to 22 tigers in 2016, a step toward achieving the global mission of doubling wild tigers by 2022 (the TX2 goal). The study also indicates that RMNP could arguably hold one of the largest contiguous tiger populations in the country.
 
Singye Wangmo, the Officiating RMNP Park Manager, credits the increase to the great teamwork and leadership of the Royal Government of Bhutan to protect the endangered cat and double its population by 2022. "The combined efforts of frontline foresters, strong transboundary collaboration with the Indian counterparts, cooperation by local communities and the unstinting support from the Royal Government of Bhutan and WWF has made it possible in achieving this remarkable feat," Singye said.
 
According to officials, providing protection to the critical tiger habitats and maintaining the ecological and genetic viability of tiger population in RMNP and across Transboundary Manas Conservation Area (TraMCA) is essential in realizing the global conservation goal of doubling tiger population by 2022.
 
"While the protected area is increasingly eulogized for its rich biodiversity, the challenges to the ecological integrity of the landscape are pervasive. Wildlife poaching is emerging as one of the prominent threats to the burgeoning tiger population in RMNP," said Phento Tshering, Director of Bhutan's Department of Forests and Parks Services. "Providing protection to the critical tiger habitats backed by sound ecological knowledge on tiger population dynamics and their prey will be crucial for ensuring their persistence and of other wildlife species."
 
There is indeed much work to be done if tigers are to be saved. Once found in diverse habitats across Asia, the world's wild tiger population has shrunk by over 95 per cent in the last century due to illegal tiger trade, poaching and habitat loss. Today, the world is at risk of losing this iconic species completely, with as few as 3,890 tigers remaining in the wild.
 
"In the face of increasing illegal wildlife trade, habitat loss and human-wildlife conflict, it is imperative that tiger population is scientifically assessed and their trends monitored," said Dechen Dorji, Country Representative of WWF Bhutan. "Linking science with on-ground conservation through such scientific monitoring of tigers is imperative in gauging the success of all of our conservation interventions," he said.
 
Dechen said that a holistic approach to monitoring wildlife population that includes assessment of predator and prey population as well as their habitat are critical elements for effective conservation.
 
Realizing the need to establish proper scientific information on tiger ecology for effective conservation and in ensuring the viability of wild population of priority species, a long term scientific monitoring of tigers in RMNP was initiated since 2011 under the aegis of TraMCA and Ugyen Wangchuck Institute for Conservation and Environmental Research (UWICER).
 
 "The joint scientific monitoring of tigers between RMNP and Indian Manas National Park, which also forms the core of TraMCA is a testimony to a successful transboundary conservation effort to safeguard tigers in the wild," said Singye Wangmo, Sr. Forestry Officer and Officiating Park Manager in RMNP.
 
She said that the presence of healthy breeding tiger population linked together with tiger habitats of three other protected areas in Bhutan via Phibsoo Wildlife Sanctuary, Jigme Singye Wangchuck National Park and Jomotsangkha Wildlife Sanctuary, and Manas National Park in India makes RMNP a potential 'source site" for tigers. RMNP is also one of three sites in Bhutan that is piloting the Conservation Assured Tiger Standards (CA|TS) - currently the highest global standards for effective site-based management for wild tigers.
 
Two joint transboundary tiger monitoring reports were released in 2011 and 2016 respectively. The TraMCA tiger photo database has a record of 57 unique individuals and 13 tigers are found common in both the protected areas.
 
--- End ----
 
 
For further information, please contact:
 
Phurba Lhendup, Director, Species
WWF Bhutan, Thimphu Bhutan
plhendup@wwfbhutan.org.bt
+975-2-323528/323316
 
Singye Wangmo, Senior Forestry Officer
Royal Manas National Park
Department of Forests and Parks Services
Royal Government of Bhutan
singyew@moaf.gov.bt
 
Tenzin Rabgye, Communications Officer,
WWF Bhutan, Thimphu Bhutan
trabgye@wwfbhutan.org.bt
+975-2-323528/323316

Bluefin tuna recovery: a ten-year battle may be lost by lack of caution, WWF warns

9. November 2017 - 1:00
Rome – Brussels – The European Union and other fishing nations of the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) will discuss a potential drastic increase in the total allowable catch of East Atlantic and Mediterranean bluefin tuna at a meeting next week (14-22 November) in Morocco. WWF strongly warns against any rapid increase in fishing quotas that would impair the full recovery of the tuna population.

After a struggle of more than 10 years to save and sustainably manage the bluefin tuna threatened stock, the ICCAT scientific committee is suggesting an increase in the total allowable catch up to 36,000 tonnes by 2020 (more than double the 2015 quota), while at the same time declaring that the stock has not yet recovered. The same scientists are also warning that such a catch level would potentially decrease the bluefin tuna population in coming years.  

In addition, the European Union is proposing to interrupt the recovery plan, adopted in 2007 and supposed to end in 2022, so 5 years before the original deadline. WWF warns that this will open new negotiations and change management measures, leading to weaker management of the bluefin tuna population.

"Bluefin tuna stock is not yet ready to support such a rapid increase in catches and would suffer from less strict management. It took us more than ten years to bring bluefin tuna back to our seas, and we cannot lose it again for short-term profit" declared Alessandro Buzzi, Fisheries Projects Manager at WWF Mediterranean.
"The measures adopted for the recovery of the species are generating very positive results, with bluefin tuna no longer being overfished. We urge governments to build on this success and wait for the complete recovery of the species," he added.

WWF recommends a quota of 28,000 tonnes by 2020 to allow the population to continue to grow and calls for a continuation of the recovery plan until the stock is declared recovered by scientists. In addition WWF asks for nations to allocate higher quotas to small-scale fisheries, which have been almost excluded from access to the resource for the last ten years, provided that the current monitoring and control standards are ensured.
 
WWF also warns about the unknown impacts of Illegal Unreported Unregulated (IUU) fishing, suspected to be still prevalent in the Mediterranean.
 
"Rebuilding the bluefin tuna stock was a huge challenge. We need to learn from the past and be patient until the stock has finally recovered. This should happen soon, if we continue to apply best practices."
 
 
Notes to editors:
Atlantic bluefin tuna is a large predatory fish found in the western and eastern Atlantic and the Mediterranean Sea. Most catches are taken from the Mediterranean, and this supports the most important bluefin tuna fishery in the world in terms of amount of catches and quality of fish.
The millennial bluefin tuna fishery in the Mediterranean entered a phase of rapid and intense deterioration in the last decade of the 20th Century when the new practice of farming wild-caught tunas multiplied without control to feed mainly the Japanese sushi market. This generated a perverse overfishing spiral, with huge IUU (Illegal Unreported Unregulated) fisheries levels.

WWF was the first to warn about this new threat and since 2001 has led an international campaign to avoid the collapse of the bluefin tuna population and to ensure a rational and sustainable fishing activity in the Mediterranean.

A recovery plan for the species was adopted by ICCAT in 2007. It sets rules on several management measures among which total allowable catches, fishing season duration, minimum size, by-catch management, recreational fisheries. It also defines measures regarding monitoring and control, reporting of catches, caging and transferring operations.

ICCAT is the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas, a regional fisheries management organisation (RFMO). Established 42 years ago, ICCAT is composed of 48 Contracting Parties which have the mandate to monitor and sustainably manage the stocks of tuna and tuna-like species in the Atlantic and Mediterranean.
 
Pictures and graph: https://we.tl/mgWh66K3pd or http://bit.ly/2iHMMXU
 
Online feature The battle for the bluefin tuna

 
For more information:
Anne Rémy, WWF Mediterranean, Director of Communications, aremy@wwfmedpo.org,
+ 39 06 844 97 424, mobile + 39 338 66 06 287
Alessandro Buzzi, WWF Mediterranean, Fisheries Projects Manager, abuzzi@wwfmedpo.org ,
+ 39 06 844 97 443, mobile + 39 346 23 57 481
Marco Costantini, WWF Mediterranean, Fisheries Projects Manager, mcostantini@wwfmedpo.org,
mobile + 39 340 340 39 88  

UN climate change talks struggle to deliver strong action on loss and damage

8. November 2017 - 1:00
November 8. Bonn, Germany. On the 4th anniversary of the devastating typhoon Haiyan which struck the Philippines in 2013, three major civil society groups demand the climate talks (COP23) follow through on leaders' promises in the Paris Agreement to protect people and their livelihoods, and ecosystems from increasingly severe climate impacts. The attention to loss and damage has been growing over the years as it has become clearer that it is part of today's climate reality, argues CARE International, WWF and ActionAid. Sea-level rise, glacial melting, ocean acidification, and more intense disasters like typhoons and massive flash floods are taking place today: they are no longer a concern for a distant future. However, an ambitious outcome on loss and damage at the UN climate talks in Bonn is far from certain, as governments discuss the draft of a work plan of the UN loss and damage mechanism and how to consider loss and damage in rules to implement the Paris Agreement.
 
Sven Harmeling, Global Policy Lead Climate Change and Resilience, CARE International said: "Loss and damage from climate change impacts already sets back efforts of the poorest and most vulnerable people, especially women and girls, to overcome poverty. Governments at the climate talks in Bonn should adopt an ambitious work plan. This should identify new funding sources during the next two years that would help poor communities recover from loss and damage and integrate gender considerations across all its activities, which is not the case yet."
 
Sandeep Chamling Rai, Senior Advisor on Global Adaptation Policy, WWF Signapore said: "COP 23 will be a litmus test for progress on loss and damage issues. Countries, especially the developed ones, need to step up on implementing the full functions of the Warsaw International Mechanism, especially on the enhancing action and support, including finance, technology, and capacity-building. The future of the vulnerable communities and ecosystems of the world are in the hands of their country negotiators here: It is time to deliver on their promises."
 
Harjeet Singh, Global Lead on Climate Change, ActionAid said: "Having Fiji as president of this year's climate talks makes the Bonn conference very poignant. The world is looking to them to take this unique opportunity to make vulnerable people safe from the impacts of climate change. Negotiations have now started, and developing countries have put climate impacts at the centre of the talks. Yet so far developed countries have been non-committal in their response.  Fiji, therefore, needs to step up and show courageous leadership in their role as representative of the world's vulnerable people"
 
 
For further information, please contact:
 
CARE International
Camilla Schramek, Communication Officer
cschramek@care.dk or +45 50 22 92 88
 
WWF International
Scott Edwards, COP23 communications manager
sedwards@wwfint.org or +44 78 87 95 41 16
 
ActionAid
Ravneet Ahluwalia, COP23 Media Coordinator
ravneet.ahluwalia@actionaid.org or +44 (0) 7850 312438

Healthy economies need a healthy Mother Earth

3. November 2017 - 1:00
The economic future of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) region looks bright. In recent years, ASEAN has been growing by around 5 per cent a year and the Asian Development Bank estimates that by 2030 nearly half a billion of ASEAN's population will be considered middle class. New International Monetary Fund (IMF) projections put the region on track to becoming the fourth largest economy in the world by 2050.
 
It would be difficult to find a business today that doesn't keep track of these projections and trends in economic health and not be excited about the region's prospects. From New York and Frankfurt to London and Singapore, the rise and fall of each trend are closely scrutinised to capitalise on opportunities and mitigate risks. Yet, few businesses take note of another critical trend that can impact their operations and profits just as much, if not more. The failing health of the planet.
 
We cannot have a prosperous society in a degraded planet and all signs are pointing to human activity driving the planet to the edge, as business and people consume more natural resources than the Earth can regenerate. We cut more trees than can regrow, we catch more fish than can reproduce, we emit more greenhouse gasses than natural systems can absorb. We create materials like plastic that last forever and throw it away after a single use.
 
The UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction estimates that in the last 10 years, climate-related disasters have caused USD 1.4 trillion worth of damage worldwide, with the Philippines, Indonesia, and Vietnam among those countries most frequently impacted. Going forward, floods alone could cost Southeast Asia as much as USD 215 billion each year by 2030, according to the World Resources Institute. The latest World Economic Forum's Global Risks report lists climate instability, extreme weather events and water scarcity as major risks faced by business today. The economic contribution of nature is at present largely invisible and unaccounted for,  but the cost of a degraded planet is beginning to hit the economy.
 
In the case of ASEAN today, the region already faces a multitude of transboundary environmental issues such as extreme weather events, haze, freshwater scarcity, and overfishing, along with dwindling forest cover and loss of biodiversity. As intangible as it may seem, loss of biodiversity, is one of the major threats to the health of crucial ecosystems like oceans and forests on whose services our economy, social stability and individual well being depend.
 
As the effects of climate change worsen and our planet's resources and natural systems come under increasing strain, sustainability issues will increasingly hit companies' bottom lines. Businesses that depend on water and commodities are particularly vulnerable. For instance, when asked about supply chain snags with sugarcane, sugar beets and citrus for its fruit juices, Coca-Cola admits that increased droughts, more unpredictable variability, and 100-year floods every two years are major threats.
 
It's clear that companies not only have a responsibility to ensure that the natural resources and ecosystems that underpin their business are used sustainably, but must do so for their own bottom lines and long-term viability. Protecting land, oceans, rivers, forests as well as their biodiversity and communities will mitigate risks in the supply chain and also provide enormous opportunities for businesses willing to invest in the future.
 
This is particularly true in ASEAN. Favourable economic outlooks are a great opportunity for businesses in the region to lead the way toward a long-term approach, rather than obsessing over short-term profits.
 
Now that we are increasingly understanding the finite nature of our planet and the fragility of its natural systems, protecting the environment makes perfect business sense. A study published in the Business Harvard Review last year shows how sustainability benefits the bottom line by driving competitive advantage through stakeholder engagement, improving risk management, fostering innovation, improving financial performance and building customer loyalty. Increasingly, employees, customers and investors are demanding that business promotes environmental, social and governance practices - for the bottom line and for the 'greater good'. Yet, despite the benefits of sustainability, many companies are still dragging their feet and taking a short-sighted, short-term approach.
 
A new WWF report published with the National University of Singapore (NUS), found that banks in ASEAN are failing to redirect financial flows away from environmentally and socially destructive business practices, and importantly, not yet tapping into growth opportunities also needed to finance the transition to a sustainable economy. A huge opportunity lies in tackling the worsening global water crisis. Key will be redirecting financial flows towards more sustainable water projects. We currently work with financial institutions on innovative approaches such as blue bonds and water stewardship funds to help bridge the gap between the world's water needs and funds waiting to be invested in sustainable and bankable water projects.
 
Opportunities also lie in the energy sector. Just last month, ADB approved two loans totaling USD 1.1 billion to strengthen and diversify Indonesia's energy sector, including renewables. Climate change isn't just causing the ice caps to melt; it's costing corporations big bucks. Companies that ignore climate-related risks will feel the consequences.
 
Shining a spotlight on the world's greatest issues, the UN Sustainable Development Goals offer another opportunity to fundamentally shift the way to do business. For the first time, we have an integrated approach that connects the economy, society and the environment. To my mind, this represents a catalyst for innovation and new market opportunities for executives to embrace and drive growth while at the same time being a force for good. We have been partnering for decades with leading companies worldwide on transforming their business practices for the good of profits, people, and the planet, and sustainability is playing an increasingly significant role in business strategy.
 
The key to a bright future for businesses, and of course the planet, lies in establishing resilient markets that produce more sustainably, consume more wisely and safeguard our natural wealth. Healthy economies depend on a healthy environment - that is the bottom line.

Written by Marco Lambertini, Director General, WWF International   
 

Process to implement Paris Agreement by 2020 starts in Bonn next week

31. October 2017 - 1:00
BONN, Germany (31 October, 2017) – UN climate negotiators meet in Bonn next week to hash out key issues that go to the heart of the implementation of the Paris Agreement - keeping warming below 1.5°C.
 
Close to a year after the landmark treaty's coming into force, member states must make substantive progress on the actual content of the agreement's implementation guidelines in order for it to be fully operational by 2020. They must also launch a process to encourage national governments to increase the ambition of their national targets (NDCs) by 2020.
 
Following the COP decision in Paris to bring non-State actors like business, cities, investors and subnational governments into the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, there will also be a strong focus on their role and achievements, and discussions on how to more effectively integrate them into international and national efforts.
 
Manuel Pulgar-Vidal, leader of WWF's global climate and energy programme, said:
'Recent extreme weather events we have witnessed globally are a stark reminder of what is at stake. In Bonn, we must spark the momentum necessary to accelerate the climate action happening now, and scale up efforts, in line with keeping warming to 1.5°C.
 
'COP23 will be the biggest test yet of the commitment and resolve of Parties to deliver on the Paris Agreement. With the collaboration of non-Party stakeholders, Parties can pass this test by showing ambition and urgency in each of these areas.'
 
Notes to editors:
At COP23, WWF will support the Marrakech Partnership through hosting strategic discussions to advance the Action Agenda and accelerate climate action. Find us at #pandahub in the Bonn Zone, and the programme here www.panda.org/COP23.

Issues that require substantive progress at COP23 are indicated in the WWF expectations paper available here: http://bit.ly/2z5xwhr 

For further information, contact: Mandy Jean Woods mwoods@wwfint.org

CMS listing not enough to protect sharks

29. October 2017 - 2:00
Global shark conservation coalition welcomes new shark listings on UN wildlife treaty, while stressing urgent need for implementation
 
A coalition of leading shark conservation organizations welcomed the decision by Parties to the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS) to list more sharks and rays on their Appendices, but took the opportunity to stress that follow-up actions to reduce fishing are still lacking for those shark and ray species already listed under the Convention.
 
"WWF and our partners welcome new shark and ray conservation initiatives and appreciate the interests of environmental officials from CMS Parties in conserving vulnerable species," said Ian Campbell, from WWF's Shark and Ray Conservation Programme. "However we must stress that simply putting species on the list is only a first step. CMS listing must be backed up with concrete national and regional actions, which—in the case of sharks and rays—center around mitigating their greatest threat: overfishing."
 
The number of shark and ray species listed on the CMS Appendices increased this week as CMS Parties added three shark species (blue, dusky, and angel) and two rays (white-spotted wedgefish and "common" guitarfish) to CMS Appendix II, the Appendix which commits Parties to cooperate regionally towards their conservation. The angel shark and the Mediterranean population of common guitarfish were also added to Appendix I, a listing which carries an obligation for strict protection. The whale shark was also added to Appendix I after its global population status deteriorated despite a 1999 listing on CMS Appendix II.
 
"We remain hopeful that CMS actions will prompt fishing nations to better protect sharks,  yet dismayed by the persistent disconnect between wildlife and fisheries agencies in many CMS member countries that hinders effective conservation for listed species," said Sonja Fordham, President of Shark Advocates International, a project of The Ocean Foundation. "For example, North Atlantic shortfin mako sharks, listed on CMS Appendix II since 2008, are now headed for collapse due primarily to unregulated landings by vessels from the EU and Morocco—both of which are CMS Parties."
 
WWF, Shark Advocates International, Shark Trust, and the IUCN Shark Specialist Group collaborate, as part of the Global Sharks and Rays Initiative (GSRI), to advance conservation measures for a wide range of imperiled sharks and rays. Some used this week's meeting to highlight the plight of mako sharks for the 30 CMS Parties that are also members of the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) as the latter body prepares to consider scientific advice for dramatic mako fishing cutbacks next month. Other GSRI initiatives focus on protecting rays, which the IUCN has pointed out are generally more threatened and less protected than sharks.
 
"We are pleased to see some global recognition of the plight of guitarfishes and wedgefishes, particularly imperiled and under-protected families that the IUCN and GSRI have worked to spotlight in recent years," said Dr. Colin Simpfendorfer, Co-Chair of the IUCN Shark Specialist Group. "At the same time, we remain gravely concerned about highly threatened sawfishes, another family of rays, noting that many range countries still don't protect them despite their 2014 listing on CMS Appendix I."
 
Notes to Editors:
CMS is an intergovernmental treaty formed under the United Nations Environment Program.
 
CMS Parties met this week in Manila, Philippines for the 12th Conference of the Parties (CoP). CMS CoPs takes place every three years.
 
CMS Appendix I, reserved for species that are threatened with extinction, obligates CMS Parties (currently numbering 124) to strictly protect the animals, conserve and restore their habitats, mitigate obstacles to their migration, and control other factors that might endanger them. CMS Appendix II includes migratory species that need or would significantly benefit from international co-operation for which CMS encourages global and/or regional Agreements and concerted action among Range States.
 
CMS finalized a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for Migratory Sharks in 2010. SAI, Shark Trust, WCS and WWF are Cooperating Partners with respect to this MoU.
 
For more information:
Parker Robinson, park.robinson@gmail.com; +852 9409 1616
 

From Bula to Bonn, accelerating climate action to be in sharp focus at COP23

25. October 2017 - 2:00
(BONN, Germany) 25 October 2017 - When the annual United Nations climate change conference gets underway in Bonn in early November, national leaders won't be alone at the table. Businesses, cities, subnational governments and civil society will be on hand to show how their efforts are critical to help achieve the ambitious targets of the 2015 Paris Agreement. 
 
Manuel Pulgar-Vidal, leader of WWF's global climate and energy work, says a redoubling of climate efforts across communities, industries and subnational governments is urgently needed to meet the targets set out in the landmark agreement. "These groups are like the seeds of a Baobab tree. Various initiatives form strong roots on which a sturdy trunk can thrive. We applaud them for leading the charge in responding to the possibilities created by a low-carbon future."

Pulgar-Vidal says it is vital to keep up the momentum for accelerated climate action to ensure a swift shift to a sustainable, low-carbon world. "Individual ambitions can be strengthened through collaboration to identify opportunities for deeper impact and the scaling up of efforts, and I hope that COP23 provides the common ground to do that."

As the world's leading conservation organisation, WWF works with many partners to guide overall action on climate, and ensure innovative partnerships that bring together different sectors with shared goals that advance the implementation of the Paris Agreement. At COP23, WWF will be hosting a number of dialogues, discussions and events at its #PandaHub pavilion. On site, and through the duration of COP, many of these partnerships will showcase the value of cooperation in climate action and discuss specific opportunities for greater ambition and action.
 
Notes for Editors 
  1. The #pandahub is located in the Bonn Zone at COP23, by the Delegation Pavilions. It will be open from 10am – 8pm daily. 
  2. The programme of #pandahub can be found online at the WWF COP23 website here: www.panda.org/cop23. The site will be updated daily ahead of and during COP23 with the latest pavilion schedule and related information.
 
For further information, contact:
Mandy Jean Woods mwoods@wwfint.org  

 

Central Africa biomonitoring report: Several forest elephant populations close to collapse in Central Africa

24. October 2017 - 2:00
Wildlife censuses carried out in four Central African countries have revealed that forest elephant populations have declined by approximately 66 per cent over eight years in an area covering almost 6 million hectares. These declines are attributed to the illegal killing of elephants for their ivory. However, there are indications that lower levels of poaching have occurred within protected areas, underscoring the role of protected areas as safe refuge for wildlife.

Douala, Cameroon, October 25, 2017: WWF in collaboration with the respective country ministries in charge of wildlife and various partners conducted the censuses between 2014 and 2016. The inventories were carried out in key protected areas (representing 20 per cent of the survey area) and surrounding zones (logging concessions, hunting areas and other land use types) in Cameroon, the Republic of Congo, the Central African Republic and Gabon. The censuses focused on forest elephants, great apes (chimpanzees and gorillas) and additional data were collected on levels of human activities.

Published in a WWF Central Africa Biomonitoring report, the results indicate an estimated 9,500 forest elephants and 59,000 great apes (weaned, independent individuals) across the survey area.
The studies revealed a 66 per cent decline in elephant population between 2008 and 2016 across the landscapes but indicate stable populations of great apes. The figures for elephants are particularly alarming in the Cameroon segment of Tri-national Dja-Odzala-Minkebe (TRIDOM) transboundary conservation landscape where their numbers have declined by more than 70 per cent in less than a decade.

"Despite these shocking data, we believe that the trends can be reversed if decision makers and wildlife managers make maximum use of these data to guide policies, surveillance plans and strategies to combat wildlife crime," says Dr K. Paul N'GORAN, WWF Biomonitoring Coordinator for Central Africa . "There is a crucial need for the international community to support such actions taken by governments and conservation NGOs in collaboration with local communities," he adds.

"This is the first time wildlife censuses have been carried out on such a large scale, over a short period of time in Central Africa," states N'GORAN. "The censuses were conducted using standardized line transect technique and analyzed using DISTANCE software, an approach widely applied and recognized for wildlife inventories," N'GORAN adds.
 
Protected areas as wildlife refuge
The report showed that industrial-scale poaching for ivory is the biggest driver of the decline of elephant populations in the region. This has pushed elephants to seek refuge inside protected areas. "The inventory results revealed that poaching and other human pressures are higher outside national parks; this pressure is 50 per cent less in national parks than outside," N'GORAN says.

"While we commend the leaders of the four Congo Basin countries for the progress made in reducing the impact of human activities within protected areas, by working together with communities and organizations present on the ground, continued poaching and failure to secure the migration corridors of elephants in and around these protected areas could lead to the decimation of the remaining populations," N'GORAN says. "This would extend the threat to other species of the rich biodiversity of these countries," he adds.

WWF is urging leaders of these four countries to strengthen legislation aimed at curbing poaching. Authorities in these four countries are also encouraged to come together and step up joint cross border monitoring and law enforcement in and around protected areas. We stress the need to work in collaboration with local communities to tackle the complex operations of wildlife crime networks in the Congo Basin.

Declaración de WWF sobre el CPR (Conservación, Protección y Recuperación) de la vaquita

11. October 2017 - 2:00
El 12 de octubre el Gobierno de México, con el apoyo de expertos y científicos internacionales, iniciará un esfuerzo sin precedentes para salvar a la vaquita, el mamífero marino más amenazado del mundo. El proyecto, conocido como CPR (Conservación, Protección y Recuperación), busca rescatar a las vaquitas que quedan y reubicarlas temporalmente en un santuario marino en el Alto Golfo de California. El objetivo final es que una vez que haya sido eliminada la principal amenaza para su supervivencia –las redes de enmalle- estos cetáceos regresen a su hábitat natural.

WWF apoya al CPR como una estrategia audaz y necesaria, que forma parte de esfuerzos más amplios de conservación para salvar a esta especie, cuya población ha descendido a menos de 30 individuos. "Aunque el CPR enfrenta mucha incertidumbre y es altamente riesgoso, WWF reconoce que es una acción necesaria para salvar a la vaquita de la extinción", dijo Jorge Rickards, Director General de WWF México. "WWF apoya al CPR con el único objetivo de regresar a una población saludable de vaquitas a su entorno natural y, por lo tanto, nuestro principal interés es asegurar un Alto Golfo de California sano y libre de redes de enmalle, en el que la vida silvestre y las comunidades locales puedan prosperar. Tenemos la esperanza de que juntos veamos resultados exitosos tanto en el CPR como en los esfuerzos de conservación en el hábitat de la vaquita".

WWF no participará en las actividades del CPR, que incluyen la captura y reubicación de la especie, pues estas labores no forman parte de su área de especialización. Sin embargo continuará apoyando tareas que benefician de forma directa al CPR y a la vaquita en vida silvestre, incluyendo:
  1. El monitoreo acústico, crucial para ayudar a localizar a las vaquitas que quedan. Desde 2012, WWF ha apoyado este monitoreo que ha sido operado por el Instituto Nacional de Ecología y Cambio Climático de México (INECC) para ayudar a estimar la población de esta especie y es esencial para medir la efectividad de los esfuerzos de conservación de la vaquita.
  2. WWF seguirá participando en el retiro de redes fantasma o abandonadas, muchas de ellas ilegales, que se desplazan sin rumbo fijo y atrapan y matan a vaquitas y a otras especies marinas. Como parte de este esfuerzo, WWF está apoyando el uso de un sonar de barrido que contribuye a detectar más eficientemente las redes fantasma, a fin de asegurar un ambiente libre de redes de enmalle para las vaquitas y los delfines de la Marina de los Estados Unidos que ayudarán a ubicarlas.

Tanto el monitoreo acústico como el retiro de redes se llevan a cabo con la ayuda y experiencia de pescadores locales.

Notas para los editores:
WWF es una de las organizaciones independientes de conservación más grandes y con mayor experiencia en el mundo. WWF nació en 1961 y es conocida por el símbolo del Panda. Actualmente, cuenta con una red mundial que trabaja en más de 100 países. Para saber más de WWF visite: www.wwf.org.mx y www.panda.org

Para mayor información por favor contactar a:
Jatziri Perez, WWF México, +52 (55) 26 99 05 91, jperez@wwfmex.org
Monica Echeverria, WWF Estados Unidos, +1 (202) 495 4626, monica.echeverria@wwfus.org
Scott Edwards, WWF Internacional, +44 7887 954116, sedwards@wwfint.org

Artificial nests aim to increase Shy Albatross breeding success

9. October 2017 - 2:00
Specially built mudbrick and aerated concrete artificial nests, airlifted on to Bass Strait's Albatross Island in a trial program aimed at increasing the breeding success of the Tasmanian Shy Albatross, appear to have been accepted by the vulnerable sea-birds, early monitoring is showing.      
 
A co-operative effort – which brought together wildlife and funding partners from WWF-Australia with support from the WWF-US Wildlife Adaptation Innovation Fund, the Tasmanian and Australian Governments, CSIRO Marine Climate Impact and the Tasmanian Albatross Fund – saw an air and sea operation that installed 120 of the pre-constructed nests on to the island.
  
Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment Wildlife Biologist Rachael Alderman said the first post-installation monitoring trip this week has shown that most of the artificial nests are being used by the birds.
 
"This is fantastic to see as the operation was several years in the planning from developing the idea, testing a small number of proto-types, and refining and expanding to this larger study that will enable evaluation of whether this approach can provide a boost to the population.
 
"Albatross lay a single egg each year and they invest enormous energy into incubating the egg and raising the chick. On average, over half the attempts will fail, and one of many factors in this is the nest quality," Dr Alderman said.
 
"Their nests range from a barest scrape on the rocks to a high sculptured pottery-like pedestal. Monitoring data shows that pairs breeding on high quality nests have higher breeding success than those on poorer quality nests.
 
"This trial is based on the simple theory that if ready-made high-quality nests are put in areas where nests are typically of lower quality we increase the chances of albatross pairs successfully raising a chick."
 
Acting Threatened Species Commissioner Sebastian Lang said the Tasmanian Shy Albatross was identified by the Australian Government, through the Threatened Species Prospectus, as an important species in need of action and strong partnerships to assist its survival.
 
"The species is nationally listed as Vulnerable, but is still relatively abundant. We are acting early and working co-operatively to understand the threats to its survival, and trial and implement on-ground actions to address these threats," he said.
 
WWF-Australia's Head of Living Ecosystems Darren Grover said with breeding success key to maintaining viable populations, the nests were seen as an important measure.
 
"If good quality, artificial nests help more chicks survive until they are big enough to fly then over time that could make a real difference to the population," he said.
 
"After several proto-types, the team developed an artificial nest that mimics a good quality real nest.
 
Mr Grover said nest installation was timed to maximise acceptance by the birds.
 
"Researchers positioned the artificial nests just as the birds were starting to stake out nest sites and begin construction. Although it is still very early days it's encouraging to see some birds starting to utilise the artificial nests," he said.
 
"We're hoping to see many eggs hatch and many chicks survive on artificial nests," Mr Grover said.
 
Dr Alderman, who has been monitoring the population for nearly 15 years, said with the Tasmanian Shy Albatross only breeding at three offshore islands near Tasmania, the species was particularly vulnerable to impacts such as climate change.
 
"Already some impacts are being seen with fewer chicks produced in years of higher temperatures or increased rainfall – also there is evidence of birds spending longer periods at time at sea obtaining food," Dr Alderman said.
 
"While some species can physically relocate to more favourable environments or adapt in other ways, the biology of albatross make them particularly vulnerable to rapid negative changes. Their low reproductive output and innate compulsion to return to the same colony each year, restricts their ability to move to more favourable environments.
 
"Unprecedented changes in the marine and breeding environments have already been documented and we know that climate change is here to stay. We need to be developing strategies now if we want to ensure our most susceptible species persist in the future".
 

For more information, please contact:
 
 Mark Symmons | WWF Australia |  Mark Symmons | 07 3103 6935 | 0400 985 571

About WWF
WWF is one of the world's largest and most respected independent conservation organizations, with over 5 million supporters and a global network active in over 100 countries. WWF's mission is to stop the degradation of the Earth's natural environment and to build a future in which humans live in harmony with nature, by conserving the world's biological diversity, ensuring that the use of renewable natural resources is sustainable, and promoting the reduction of pollution and wasteful consumption. Visit www.panda.org/news for latest news and media resources and follow us on Twitter @WWF_media.
 
 

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