Colombia protects 5 million marine hectares

WWF is proud to have contributed to Colombia protecting almost a further 5 million hectares of coastal and marine habitat. On 14 September, one of the most biodiverse marine areas on the planet, the Malpelo Flora and Fauna Sanctuary, was expanded by 1.7 million hectares, the Yuruparí-Malpelo National Integrated Management District (DNMI) was enlarged by 2.7 million hectares, and the regional environmental authority of the Chocó Department extended Bajo Baudó Encanto de Manglares Regional Integrated Management District by more than 310,000 hectares. This will protect beaches, mangroves and corals as well as part of the migration route of humpback whales and the nesting sites of endangered hawksbill and green turtles. The only country in South America with both Atlantic and Pacific coastlines, Colombia has now protected almost 14 per cent of its marine and coastal ecosystems – exceeding the UN Convention on Biological Diversity target to protect 10 per cent.

Ecuadorean wetland’s global importance recognized

Two of Ecuador’s most important protected areas, Cuyabeno Wildlife Reserve and Yasuni National Park, are now part of something bigger: the Cuyabeno-Lagartococha Yasuní 770,000-hectare wetland complex, which has been designated as a wetland of international importance by the Ramsar Convention. WWF, Ecuador’s Ministry of Environment and local communities have worked together since 2014 to bring this about, more than tripling the area of Ecuador’s Ramsar wetlands. The complex is formed by hundreds of rivers, creeks, swamps and lagoons, which together make up a dynamic water system rich in biodiversity, with more than 200 amphibian and reptile, 600 bird and 167 mammal species. Fish such as the paiche and catfish are fundamental to local diets, but the actual number of fish species remains unknown. The waterways are key to local livelihoods, enabling trade and bringing tourists to one of Ecuador’s top tourist attractions.

Partnering with Cameroon’s Baka communities

In the first collaboration of its kind, WWF and Plan International are working together to strengthen the rights and increase the role of Baka communities in the management of natural resources in southeast Cameroon. The project, initially to be implemented in ten Baka communities, will also promote the fair sharing of benefits and other advantages derived from sustainable forest management, such as royalties from logging and safari hunting concessions, and the revenues from community forests and community hunting zones. Both organizations will also encourage increased participation of Baka in local structures set up to manage forests and wildlife resources and ensure the fair sharing of revenue. “This is an opportunity to work in a more holistic way, using a common method to strengthen the different needs and rights to which Baka people are entitled,” says Dr Bell’Aube Houinato, Country Director of Plan International Cameroon. 

Good news for wild tigers in Kazakhstan and Thailand

The Republic of Kazakhstan has announced plans to return wild tigers to their historical range in the Ili-Balkhash region after 70 years of absence, and will implement the reintroduction programme with WWF. “We are honoured to be the first country in Central Asia to implement such a large-scale project that will not only bring wild tigers back to their ancestral home, but also protect the unique ecosystem of the Ili-Balkhash region,” said Askar Myrzakhmetov, Minister of Agriculture. To prepare for the tigers’ return, the government will establish a nature reserve in the southwestern Ili-Balkhash and restore their forest habitat adjacent to Lake Balkhash. There’s also good news from Thailand, where tiger numbers are on the rise in two national parks according to a new survey by the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation, and WWF.

Saving the world’s wild sturgeons

Sturgeons once swam with the dinosaurs, but over the past 50 years wild populations have collapsed due to poaching, habitat loss, pollution and dams blocking their migration routes. Seventeen sturgeon species are now classified as critically endangered by IUCN and four may be extinct. Working with partners in Europe, Asia and North America, WWF aims to stop overexploitation of wild sturgeons, preserve key migration routes, protect and restore critical river habitats, and create breeding centres to restock wild populations. A recently launched global strategy includes a range of activities – from supporting stronger enforcement of existing laws including fishing bans, to developing alternative livelihoods for fishing communities and ensuring that sturgeon safeguards are included in investment policies of public and private financial institutions.

Palm Oil Scorecard for Malaysia and Singapore

Many palm-oil buyers are aware of the importance of sustainable production, but some do little or nothing to help reduce the adverse impacts of producing the world’s most popular vegetable oil in some of its most vulnerable tropical habitats. With this in mind, the Palm Oil Buyers’ Scorecard (POBS) Malaysia and Singapore 2017, in which 20 Malaysian and 27 Singaporean companies participated, was released by WWF to evaluate which local companies were sourcing and using sustainably produced palm oil in their supply chains. The scorecard (a first for the countries) aims to encourage more companies to start the journey to sustainability. WWF also launched a campaign in Singapore to demonstrate consumer demand for sustainable palm oil; to date, more than 28,000 people have emailed 13 brands, of which six have pledged to take action to source sustainably.