Conservation Pulse Aug & Sep 2019 | WWF
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Our latest conservation wins

© Michael Dantas / WWF-Brazil

Tragic Amazon fires must inspire us to protect rainforests

World news has been dominated in recent weeks by the Amazon fires that are pushing the world's largest tropical forest – home to countless species and more than 34 million people, including around 400 indigenous peoples – to the brink of collapse. But the Amazon is not the only place where this is happening: Indonesia and Russia, home to iconic species such as orangutans and tigers, have also experienced record levels of fire. While forest fires do occur naturally, the vast majority are caused by humans and are linked to deforestation and forest degradation. This destruction harms people’s livelihoods, contributes to climate change and threatens the survival of species. In this grim scenario, it is heartening to see that many individuals, communities and organizations – ourselves included – from around the world are trying to stop the fires and are calling on government and business leaders (see our call to action for companies) to address the causes of deforestation. At WWF, we have worked tirelessly to protect forests for people and nature, including the Amazon, for many years. And we will continue our work to halt deforestation and promote forest restoration – to ensure there is a living planet for years to come.

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World Scouting partners with WWF to launch new Panda Badge

Young people have a vital role in creating a more sustainable world. So we are delighted that 50 million Scouts worldwide have the opportunity to earn the new Panda Badge – helping to raise awareness about the importance of nature and inspire action. The badge, which is part of World Scouting’s revamped environment programme, will help young people to better understand the impact of their consumer habits on the environment and how to make more sustainable choices. WWF International Director General Marco Lambertini said: “As nature declines like never before, the new Panda Badge gives young people the chance to learn more about the environment and the urgent steps they can take to conserve and use it sustainably. More than ever, we need active citizens to galvanize the global momentum required to inspire people to live in harmony with nature.” World Scouting and WWF have been key partners in the area of environmental education and awareness since 1973.

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One million speak out on ocean plastics pollution

The people have spoken. Over one million people across the world have signed a petition calling on governments to make a globally binding legal commitment to tackle the plastics crisis. Eight million tonnes of plastics end up in our oceans every year – a threat to both people and wildlife. We have already seen signs of progress since we launched the campaign back in February. Nordic countries became the first in the world to formally call for global treaty to tackle the plastics crisis, followed by Caribbean and Pacific countries. This was followed by policymakers adopting the first meaningful globally binding measure on plastics pollution in an important meeting called the Basel Convention. This effectively prohibits developed countries from sending their worthless contaminated plastic waste to developing countries. Our campaign continues…

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Strengthened protection for the Canadian Arctic

Our efforts to protect the Arctic in the face of a warming world has seen a major boost. A 322,000 sq km interim marine protected area, called Tuvaijuittuq, has been designated in a region of the Canadian Arctic where scientists believe sea ice will persist the longest – and so could become a final refuge for sea ice-dependent species such as the polar bear. The Qikiqtani Inuit Association, working with the governments of Canada and Nunavut, led the charge for this with an impact benefit agreement that will ensure communities benefit culturally and economically from protecting this area. A five-year study will then look at permanently protecting it from future threats such as oil and gas development. Meanwhile, WWF-Canada will urge that Tuvaijuittuq is joined to the nearby Tallurutiup Imanga national marine conservation area – creating a massive safe habitat for Arctic wildlife and the Inuit communities they sustain.

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Free-flowing river wins in Europe

Keeping rivers free flowing is vitally important for people and nature – for the species living there and the people who rely on it for vital services such as food and freshwater. We therefore welcome the announcement from Albania’s Prime Minister Edi Rama that the government will never again allow small hydropower projects below 2MW that negatively affect people and important natural sites. We have been actively involved with hydropower issues in Albania in partnership with the Organisation to Conserve the Albanian Alps (TOKA), challenging the proposed construction of 14 hydropower plants in the Valbona Valley National Park. Meanwhile, in Finland, the country’s biggest ever dam removal is underway after WWF-Finland, the government and other partners raised funds to buy three hydropower dams on the River Hiitolanjoki. Opening up the rapids will help restore the country’s last remaining stock of natural and fully landlocked salmon, as well as encourage high-quality and responsible fishing tourism.

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New research highlights solutions to protect forests and biodiversity

Forest wildlife play a vital role in keeping tropical forests healthy and productive – from pollination to supporting carbon storage. So we welcome new WWF-backed research in the Peruvian Amazon that shows low-impact logging practices in commercial tropical forests can contribute to wildlife protection; and that logging concessions, which adopt the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) responsible forest management standards, have a greater richness of species such as amphibians, insects and monkeys than non-FSC certified concessions. WWF Forest Practice Leader Will Baldwin-Cantello said: “This research shows us that it is possible to combine production forestry with biodiversity conservation if done in the right way and in the right places.” The vital importance of such efforts to protect wildlife have been confirmed in our new report, Below the Canopy. This first-ever global assessment of forest biodiversity shows that monitored wildlife populations have shrunk on average by more than half since 1970 – and highlights conservation success stories demonstrating they can recover with the right interventions. Tropical forests are vital for our global climate and for the livelihoods of millions, as well as being a home for many species.

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Hopeful signs in efforts to tackle illegal wildlife trade

With a recent report warning that we could lose as many as one million species in coming decades, it’s vital that the wildlife trade is properly regulated. So we welcome some good news. Firstly, the latest meeting of CITES, the agreement on the international trade in endangered species, saw some strong decisions to help tackle the illegal trade in species ranging from marine turtles to sea cucumbers. The meeting failed to sufficiently hold Vietnam to account, despite it being a top destination and transit point for the illicit wildlife trade. But there was better news from elsewhere in South-east Asia, with Singapore recently deciding to close its domestic ivory market. This year alone, Singapore authorities has seized almost nine tonnes of elephant ivory. And finally, WWF-backed research has developed a test to extract DNA from hawksbill turtle products. This could be a turning point in efforts to protect the critically endangered turtle, which is hunted for its beautiful shell. Hawksbill turtles from different regions are genetically distinct. If authorities can test seizures of illegal tortoiseshell products, they can pinpoint which populations are being targeted by poachers and direct policing efforts to those areas.