Working for biodiversity and people

WWF's Global Species Programme is working to stabilize and increase populations of WWF's priority species – and at the same time, deliver broader conservation goals as well as social equity and improved livelihoods for the rural poor.
This includes working with our many partners to:

  • Protect, manage, and/or restore essential habitats, as well as provide connectivity and corridors between habitats
  • Stimulate and strengthen national, regional, and international policy and funding for species conservation, that is integrated with biome approaches as well as development and poverty reduction programmes
Species are essential to human societies. They form cultural and religious symbols, play an essential role in ensuring environmental goods and services, and are vital to the livelihoods and well-being of many rural communities dependent on them for their survival.

However due to human activities, species are disappearing around the world faster than ever before – breaking down the life support system upon which we all depend.

A successful approach

Over the past five decades, WWF's field work has helped bring black, white, and greater one-horned rhinos, certain populations of African elephants, mountain gorillas and Amur tigers back from the brink of extinction.

We have achieved important policy wins, such as helping bring about the global moratorium on whaling, controlling trade in endangered species such as tigers, and regulating trade in species such as mahogany and sturgeons (caught for caviar).

This work is not only giving a more certain future for specific species, but helping thousands more by contributing to the conservation of all biodiversity within many ecoregions.

Our species conservation efforts are also directly helping people, through improved livelihoods, food security, incomes, governance, and empowerment. Our work is delivering towards at least 4 of the 8 Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), contributing to poverty reduction in several parts of the world.


Carlos Drews, Director of WWF´s Global Species Programme, talks about species conservation.

Species facts & figures

    • According to IUCN, humans have described an estimated 1.5 million different life forms on this planet – but there are likely to be millions more
    • The current rapid loss of species is estimated to be between 1,000 and 10,000 times higher than the natural extinction rate
    • 1 in 4 of the world’s mammals, 1 in 8 birds, 1 in 5 sharks, 1 in 4 coniferous trees, and 1 in 3 amphibians  are now threatened with extinction in the near future
    • Reduced biodiversity means millions of people face a future where food supplies are more vulnerable to pests and disease, and where fresh water is in irregular or short supply.

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