The 2016 LPR shows that global populations of fish, birds, mammals, amphibians and reptiles declined by 58 per cent between 1970 and 2012, and forecasts a two-thirds decline by 2020. The report also features the latest Ecological Footprint showing that we are currently using the resources of 1.6 planets to provide the goods and services we demand. And in a special foreword, Professor Johan Rockström of the Stockholm Resilience Centre demonstrates that humanity has passed four safe thresholds critical to Earth system processes that maintain life on Earth. But there is hope. The LPR also reports on examples of restoration of ecosystems, recovery of species and creation of resilient and hospitable places for wildlife and people. As WWF Director General Marco Lambertini says, “we are at a decisive moment; we still can seize solutions to steer our food, energy and finance systems in a more sustainable direction”.
October 28 saw an international agreement to conserve 1.55 million square kilometres of Antarctica’s Ross Sea for the next 35 years. “This is a moment of optimism for the incredible wildlife of Antarctica and is a shining beacon of hope for ocean conservation everywhere,” said John Tanzer, Leader, Oceans Practice, WWF International. “This agreement took years of intensive work by many people in governments and non-governmental organizations, and WWF is proud to have played a leading role from the very beginning. This outcome was just a dream, but sometimes dreams come true. There is much to do to protect Antarctica in perpetuity but this is a day to celebrate!” One of the most pristine wilderness areas left on Earth, the Ross Sea is home to a third of the world’s Adélie penguins, a quarter of all emperor penguins, a third of Antarctic petrels, and more than half of all South Pacific Weddell seals.
“With so much wildlife threatened by poaching and unsustainable trade, governments had to take bold action here in Johannesburg and they did,” said Theressa Frantz, WWF’s Co-head of Delegation at the 17th Conference of the Parties (CoP17) to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). The more than 180 governments agreed to provide greater protection to a host of threatened species from pangolins and silky sharks to rosewood trees, maintained the global bans on trade in ivory and rhino horn, and bolstered efforts to tackle soaring levels of poaching and wildlife trafficking. And, for the first time, the conference adopted resolutions on critical issues, including corruption, community participation and demand reduction. “It was a major success for wildlife conservation, and WWF played a critical role” added Frantz, “but now countries must turn the tough talk into tough practical action”.
WWF’s nine-year partnership with Unima to develop and implement good social and environmental practices has resulted in the company’s aquaculture farm Aqualma, on the northwest coast of Madagascar, being awarded Aquaculture Stewardship Certification (ASC). It is the first African shrimp farm to join this internationally recognized labelling scheme, and a major achievement for the shrimp sector in Africa and the export market in Madagascar – shrimp makes up 49 per cent of Madagascar’s fish exports, 60 per cent of which is produced by Aqualma. “This certification will serve as a model for other shrimp farms and stimulate further engagement of the broader Malagasy shrimp industry towards sustainable management,” said Nanie Ratsifandrihamanana, Country Director, WWF-Madagascar. “We look forward to continuing our partnership with Unima, as well as other farms in shrimp producing countries, to help achieve ASC certification throughout Africa”.
Kennedy Caicedo, a 40-year-old fisherman from Iscuandé, a town on the Colombian Pacific coast, has, like all his colleagues, always worked with very tight fishnets that caught even the smallest fish. Now, following a fishing incident in which he nearly died, he is raising environmental awareness. Encouraged by WWF, he is leading a fishnet exchange scheme in his community, promoting the use of nets that allow juvenile shrimp, sea bass and sea bream (red porgies) to survive and thrive. Kennedy’s is one of 11 conservation stories broadcast on the Animal Planet channel across Latin America, featuring WWF’s work. The programmes are co-produced by WWF-Colombia and Discovery Communications and are part of WWF’s global Together Possible campaign.
The longest barrier reef in the northern hemisphere has received a reprieve from seismic surveying. In response to a worldwide outcry, orchestrated by WWF and partners, the Belize government has announced the suspension of seismic testing near the World Heritage site. “Our reef is a source of pride and a rallying point for Belizeans. Tourism operators, fishers, divers and conservationists recognize its natural and economic values,” said Nadia Bood, WWF’s Belize reef scientist, adding, “I’d like to thank the citizens of Belize, our partners and supporters around the world who expressed their concerns to the government. We are delighted that more than 160,000 people have already asked the prime minister to protect this World Heritage site”.
Although not major contributors to climate change, Arctic communities are increasingly interested in renewable energy. At a summit co-hosted by WWF, federal government representatives joined Nunavut cabinet ministers, Inuit and community leaders, WWF-Canada and dozens of energy, legal, science, policy, engineering and environmental experts to learn about Arctic communities, as well as a major Canadian mining company, that already rely on renewables. Significant strides towards the formation of a partnership to speed the transition to clean energy in the Canadian Arctic were made, and the local government announced the creation of a climate change secretariat. “The timing is perfect, considering much of the diesel-power infrastructure in Nunavut needs replacement and the recent pledge from Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and President Barack Obama to reduce reliance on diesel in the Arctic,” said David Miller, CEO and president of WWF-Canada.
There were fewer than 20 endangered Eld’s deer in Savannakhet province when WWF started working there in 2008, just three years after the deer were first found there – now there are more than 100. “WWF did not just work to increase the deer population but to ensure participatory conservation,” explained WWF-Laos Country Director Somphone Bouasavanh, adding, “we also focused on raising awareness of the importance of biodiversity conservation, environmental stewardship and gender equity within communities; such an approach is critical for the livelihoods and quality of life of the people in and around the project site”. And to ensure the continuance of WWF’s work, the Laos government has agreed a six-year United Nations Development Programme/Global Environment Facility project to manage the country’s natural resources, including the dry forests and the Eld’s deer.