China to ban domestic ivory trade
WWF welcomed the General Office of the State Council of China’s historic announcement on 30 December 2016 that the country will “cease part of ivory processing and sales by 31 March 2017 and cease all ivory processing and sales by 31 December 2017”.
This ushers in an end to the world’s primary legal ivory market and is a major boost to international efforts to tackle the elephant poaching crisis in Africa, where up to 20,000 elephants are taken illegally each year.
The CEO of WWF-China, Lo Sze Ping said, “WWF applauds China’s decision to ban its domestic ivory trade so swiftly, underlining the government’s determination and strong leadership to reduce demand for ivory and help save Africa’s elephants. Closing the world’s largest legal ivory market will deter people in China and beyond from buying ivory and make it harder for ivory traffickers to sell their illegal stocks.”
© Amanda Voisard / UN Photo
Tanzania leads crackdown on elephant poaching
While inspecting Tanzania’s seized ivory stockpile, President Dr John Pombe Magufuli ordered law enforcement officials to crack down on elephant poaching and trafficking syndicates. “We aren’t going to allow our natural resources to be depleted,” he said, while offering federal security agencies his full support and urging them to “arrest all those involved in this illicit trade”.
“WWF congratulates President Magufuli for his leadership and the action taken by his government in tackling poaching and saving elephants,” said Amani Ngusaru, WWF-Tanzania Country Director, “he continues to demonstrate his support and drive action to eliminate poaching in Tanzania”.
The country’s elephant populations have suffered significantly from industrial-scale poaching; in Selous Game Reserve, for example, almost 90 per cent of its elephants have been lost in recent decades, although poaching appears to be slowing, and President Magufuli is confident that it will soon be “history”.
© Christine Hof / WWF-Aus
Spain announces dredging ban to protect Doñana
Following a campaign that led to more than 140,000 WWF supporters emailing the Spanish president, the Doñana wetland received a reprieve.
In a report to UNESCO, the authorities stated that a plan to deepen the Guadalquivir river to allow larger commercial shipping will not now be authorized.
Doñana, where WWF has been working since 1963, is one of Europe’s last outstanding wetlands, and the most important on the continent for migratory birds.The site harbours more than 4,000 types of plants and animals, including threatened birds and the world’s rarest feline species, the Iberian lynx.
Additionally, Donaña also provides jobs in fishing, farming, research and ecotourism for more than 200,000 nearby residents.
"For 15 years we have cautioned against dredging Doñana,” said Juan Carlos del Olmo, CEO of WWF-Spain, “this commitment should be its death blow provided that it is followed up with appropriate action”.
#NatureAlert succeeds in EU flagship nature laws
It’s full victory for the #NatureAlert campaign: on 7 December 2016 the European Commission finally confirmed that the EU’s Birds and Habitats Directives will not be changed or weakened.
The European-wide campaign launched by WWF, BirdLife International, the European Environment Bureau and Friends of the Earth succeeded in putting an end to almost two years of heated debate over the future of the EU’s flagship nature laws and the thousands of species and habitats they protect.
This is a major win for the more than half a million people who joined our action calling on the European Commission and national governments to save and enforce the laws, and for the scientists, businesses, the European Parliament, and national governments who made their voice heard.
WWF and its allies are now urging the Commission to launch a new action plan in 2017 to ensure that nature is better protected in Europe.
© Sinziana Demian/WWF Central Africa
CBD and WWF champion biodiversity awareness
WWF and the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) have signed a memorandum of understanding in support of Aichi Biodiversity Target 1 (ABT1) to ensure people everywhere understand the value and importance of biodiversity, and take the steps necessary for its sustainable use.
This partnership is intended to drive CBD’s Global Communication Strategy and, as a matter of urgency, to make progress in achieving ABT1 by 2020. The memorandum facilitates the bringing together of CBD Parties, governmental and non-governmental organizations, communication platforms and initiatives that demonstrate the values of biodiversity and build engagement with the issues.
Additionally, the CBD and WWF will convene a task force on creating and implementing the communications strategy for ABT1 by 2020, with joint initiatives beginning as early as 2017.
The CBD’s Executive Secretary Braulio Ferreira de Souza Dias welcomed the opportunity to “work together with WWF ... and bring together other important actors”.
WWF Director General Marco Lambertini was “delighted to be working with the Secretariat of the CBD and the environmental community to ... build a strong case for conserving Earth’s diversity of life, for us and the planet”.
The partnership offers a major opportunity for greater leverage through ongoing WWF activities including the Living Planet Report and Earth Hour, and will be channelled through platforms on which WWF has considerable experience and presence – including social media such as Facebook and Twitter, public awareness campaigns and networking on education for sustainable development.