The world’s most endangered marine mammal, the vaquita, remains under threat, despite the extension of a temporary ban on gillnets in the Upper Gulf of California by the Mexican government. WWF believes the ban will not be enough to protect the porpoise and is inviting people to write to Mexican President Peña Nieto to urge immediate action to protect it and local livelihoods in the Gulf of California World Heritage site – to date more than 186,000 people have taken e-action. The vaquita is one of the endangered species being driven to extinction in World Heritage sites, putting the livelihoods of communities who depend on them at risk. “To have real impact, a permanent gillnet ban must be urgently expedited and fully enforced, and local fishermen must be supported in the use of alternative profitable fishing gear,” said WWF-Mexico’s acting CEO Jorge Rickards.
WWF welcomes the Tanzanian government’s clear statement that there will be no future mining in Selous Game Reserve. As of January 2017, there were 48 prospective mining concessions overlapping the Selous, but these will now not be opened for exploration and there will be no future ones. WWF appreciates the joint work with the government and partners to deliver a reduction in elephant and other wildlife poaching. Nonetheless, the Reserve, home to globally important populations of elephants, lions, hippos and African wild dogs, still faces a number of threats – including from a large proposed hydropower scheme at the heart of the Selous, oil and gas exploration, and the threat of pollution from a uranium mine on its border. Safeguarding Selous will not only protect its globally important wildlife but also the local communities that depend on the Reserve for their livelihoods.
Nepal’s Ministry of Federal Affairs and Local Development and WWF agreed a ground-breaking partnership to guide Nepal’s conservation programming. The two will co-develop and implement projects and programmes related to conservation and sustainable development. A key impact under the new constitution is expected to be in the working mechanisms of programmes and projects, with most of the environmental issues devolved to local government units that will be elected in May for the first time in 20 years. Another important element is building the capacity of newly elected representatives of the 744 local government bodies that will implement the programmes. And the collaboration is also expected to help with accessing funds from bilateral and multilateral agencies including the Green Climate Fund, Global Environment and NAMA Facilities for development and environmental projects in Nepal.
In 2015, WWF and computer giant Apple began a five-year project helping China, the world’s largest producer and consumer of paper, reduce its footprint by sourcing from responsibly managed Chinese forests. Today, around 130,000 forest hectares, owned by two companies, are in the final stages of receiving Forest Stewardship Council certification – 8,000 hectares above the project goal. WWF helped the companies create management plans and train their employees. With WWF’s involvement, eight other Chinese companies are improving the management of their 182,000 forest hectares, and the project is aiming for more than 280,000 forest hectares in total. Through this project as well as Apple’s work in the USA, the yearly production from Apple’s forest conservation projects is now greater than the amount of virgin fibre it used in its packaging in FY 2016.
The government of Rwanda, one of the three range states of critically endangered mountain gorillas, is doubling the price of spending an hour with them in Volcanoes National Park – to US$ 1,500. This will increase revenues for conservation and development in neighbouring communities, as well as funding long-term investment to expand a safe environment for the gorillas while ensuring a high-value experience for tourists. WWF and Fauna & Flora International (FFI), who collaborate on mountain gorilla conservation, welcome the move as a way of managing tourism within ecological limits. Demand is high, while fewer than 900 mountain gorillas survive in very restricted forests on the borders of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda and Uganda. FFI’s Mark Rose welcomed the decision, saying, “It shows government commitment to the proper management of Rwanda’s most valuable natural asset”.
On Earth Day, Saturday 22 April, WWF launched a public channel on Viber, one of the world’s leading messaging apps, particularly on mobiles. The top Viber performing countries with a WWF presence are France, Greece, Hungary, Myanmar, Nepal, Philippines, Russia, the UK, the USA and Vietnam. The WWF channel includes exclusive free animal stickers featuring six key species: orangutan, panda, polar bear, rhino, tiger and turtle; short, snappy pieces on our current work and fun facts on the public chat; and an exciting adventure chatbot where friendly Ranger Ed introduces users to WWF’s work across rainforests, oceans and islands. It is the first time that a brand has launched on Viber using all three options at once – and already WWF has more than 1.9 million followers worldwide. Download it now, if you haven’t already, and follow WWF.