In May 2009, the six heads of state from the Coral Triangle countries - Indonesia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, the Solomon Islands, and Timor-Leste made an historic commitment to protect the marine environment and its resources, as well as ensure food security and build climate change resilience.
The EU’s Natura 2000 Programme gained a huge boost in January with an additional 9.5 million ha of protected areas (PAs), consisting of 769 important sites in Romania and Bulgaria.
The new sites will add protection for European priority species and habitats including wolves,brown bears, grasslands and forests.
Natura 2000 has been a key European WWF focus for over a decade and is the world’s largest interconnected PA network, with more than 25,000 sites in 27 countries covering 85 million ha or 17 percent of the European landmass.
WWF has supported and helped create the announcement of more than nine million ha of new Ramsar sites in the Congo Basin, bringing the total area of freshwater protected areas (PAs) to more than 100 million ha in 10 years.
Three quarters of these freshwater PAs have been established under the Ramsar Convention. In 1999, WWF set a target to achieve 250 million ha of new freshwater PAs worldwide by 2010, and committed itself to achieving 100 million ha of this global target by 2007.
At the Ramsar Convention meeting in October 2008, WWF was recognized for its support of wetland conservation.
The IUCN World Conservation Congress supported the proposed development of a Conservation Vision for the Amazon biome, an initiative led by REDPARQUES, the Latin American Network for Technical Cooperation on National Parks and Protected Areas, together with the nine Amazonian countries, the CBD Secretariat and WWF’s Amazon Initiative.
In March 2009, the Brazilian state of Amazonas announced the creation of six new protected areas (PAs) totalling 2.3 million ha.
This finalises a PA stretch along the BR-319 highway which aims to reduce deforestation by limiting access to non-protected forest along the road.
Sumatra’s 10 governors and four government ministries (Environment, Forests, Interior and Public Works) announced their collective commitment to protecting the areas of the island with “high conservation values.”
Conservationists celebrated when the Colombian Ministry of Transport stopped the development of a port which threatened a key humpback whale breeding site in Malaga Bay.
Elsewhere, the Government of Mexico, supported by WWF, is taking the lead on conserving the vaquita – the only cetacean endemic to North America.
The vaquita is highly endangered. As few as 150 may survive and they are threatened by entanglement in gillnets. The government has committed US$ 25 million on protection measures, including a vaquita sanctuary closed to gillnet fishing.
Conservation gains for coastal east Africa
In Tanzania, the government has acted on WWF recommendations to protect three high priority forest areas covering 170,000 ha in the Eastern Arc Mountains.
The US Government has committed US$ 20 million for WWF’s community wildlife management areas programme.
The governments of Mozambique and Tanzania have joined a Southern Africa Development Community declaration agreeing to outlaw illegal, unregulated and unreported (IUU) fishing which represents a major threat to local fisheries and livelihoods.
Led by World Bank President Robert Zoellick, the Global Tiger Initiative (GTI) brings together the Smithsonian Institution, Save the Tiger Fund, WWF and other partners to garner support of tiger range state leaders for effective conservation of the severely endangered tiger.
Total tiger populations have plummeted from 30,000 in the 1980s to an estimated 4,000 today.
In December 2008, the Government of Malaysia launched a National Tiger Action Plan with the aim to double Malaysia’s tiger population to 1,000 by 2020.
A champion for Brazil’s environment – Marina Silva
As Brazil’s Environment Minister from 2005 to 2007, she helped steer Brazil’s pioneering Amazon Region Protected Area (ARPA) programme to improve protection and management of over 30 million ha of the country’s Amazon forest. Born into a rubber tapper family, Marina Silva worked with the late Chico Mendes, the renowned environmental activist.
While minister, deforestation decreased by 59 per cent across Brazil, and she played a key role in developing Brazil’s National Water Resource Plan to secure water for millions of people while safeguarding freshwater biodiversity.