Acting Executive Director, Conservation
" Greetings and best wishes to you with this first edition of Conservation Pulse in 2016. This edition features news of an exceptional achievement in WWF conservation's agenda. criter amicis modo monendum adhibitae igitur amicitiae rogemur sed exspectemus auctoritas adhibitae adsit sed valeat cunctatio sanciatur bene et vero ut sanciatur valeat res amicorum vero ne adsit adsit. "
WWF wetlands milestone reached
The area of wetlands designated for protection and sustainable management under the Ramsar Convention with WWF’s support has reached 100 million ha worldwide, with the declaration of Zimbabwe’s first seven Ramsar sites.
This milestone, announced on World Wetlands Day, 2 February, means WWF has supported 45 per cent of the 215 million ha of Ramsar wetlands designated since the convention was signed in 1971. The seven new sites in Zimbabwe include the iconic Victoria Falls. Wetlands are the most biologically-diverse ecosystems and also provide key functions such as water purification and stabilization of water flows during floods and drought – yet almost two-thirds of the world’s wetlands have been lost in the last century. Protection and restoration of wetlands remains a WWF priority due to their conservation importance and role in supporting sustainable development.
Major new conservation complex underway
WWF applauds the agreement reached in Canada’s British Columbia province after 20 years of hard negotiations to protect 85 per cent of the iconic rainforest from logging.
In 2007, after 10 years of struggle and civil unrest over proposals to log this old growth rainforest, government, forest companies, First Nations and environmental organisations agreed a world-leading model of ecosystem management for the region, which WWF recognized as a Gift to the Earth to encourage the further development of the initiative.
Close to a further 10 years later, this extraordinarily lengthy process has resulted in a commitment to protect 6,4 million ha along the coast. The remaining 15 per cent will be accessible for logging, but will have to meet stringent standards for sustainability. WWF is now calling on government and First Nations to complete the process by moving swiftly to protect the coastal and marine zone of the Great Bear Sea bordering the rainforest – one of the world’s most biologically rich and diverse cold water marine environments - to create a globally significant forest, freshwater and marine conservation complex with stunning arrays of terrestrial and marine species.
Need to build on rhino protection successes in Nepal and South Africa
Increased anti-poaching efforts have achieved the first annual decrease in rhinos killed in South Africa since 2007 – though poachers are targeting rhinos in neighbouring countries.
In 2015, 1,175 rhino were killed in South Africa, 40 less than in 2014. However, at least 130 rhino were poached in Namibia and Zimbabwe in the same period, up almost 200 per cent from 2014. The organized criminal syndicates driving the rhino poaching crisis are turning their aim on previously secure populations in other African countries. But there is hope. While there are signs South Africa is stabilizing poaching, and must improve further, Nepal has shown that it is possible to stop it.
Nepal has already achieved three years of zero rhino poaching since 2011 and is close to a fourth – a remarkable achievement. And one that other countries can emulate by adopting the zero poaching framework, which WWF has helped develop. Supported by numerous international organizations, there is now a one-stop website for countries to access the best available tools and resources in the zero poaching toolkit.
Boost for WWF’s campaign to close the key Hong Kong ivory market
A series of countries central to the illegal ivory trade have now committed to cease or regulate their domestic ivory markets.
The latest announcement by Hong Kong that it is to explore phasing out the trade follows similar decisions by China and US, and Thailand’s moves to regulate its domestic trade. Hong Kong’s new decision represents a significant success for WWF’s campaign to ban the city’s ivory trade. Launched in 2015, the campaign has gained the support of other organizations, members of the Legislative Council and over 70,000 people.
This decision is also an indication of how fast national policy is changing and how international momentum to tackle illegal wildlife trade is building. Last year saw the unanimous adoption of the historic UN General Assembly Resolution on wildlife crime and closed with China agreeing with African nations to jointly scale up their response to wildlife crime during the 6th Forum for China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) in December. Next up is the European Union, which is due to launch its new action plan to combat wildlife trafficking on 3 March, World Wildlife Day.
Huge majority of the EU Parliament votes to save Europe’s nature
An overwhelming majority of the Members of the European Parliament (592 vs 52 MEPs) voted this week against a revision of the EU Birds and Habitats Directives - a further important step in support of WWF’s campaign to save Europe’s most important nature laws and the biggest network of protected areas, Natura 2000.
WWF congratulated the Parliament for agreeing that revision of the Directive “would result in weakened legislative protection and financing”. In line with WWF, NGOs and EU governments, the Parliament calls for better management and sufficient financing and coherence with other EU policies, like agriculture and energy to halt the loss of biodiversity by 2020. A final decision by EU Environment Ministers is expected by end 2016.
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