Friday, January 10, 2014

WWF's Top Global Success Stories of 2013

WWF works to achieve positive change for species, communities and diverse habitats. In 2013 they had many international successes. Their diverse success stories run the gamut from salmon farming to gillnets. They have been very active in advancing environmental issues in developing countries and they continue their work in support of a wide range of species including elephants, saola—one, snow leopards, Nepalese tigers and previously unknown species of flora and fauna. Here is their summary of international achievements in 2013.

WWF became a full partner of the Global Environment Facility, an organization created in 1992 to support bold actions in developing countries tied to large landscapes and large environmental challenges. With funding from GEF, WWF and other stakeholders have helped put tuna on the road to sustainable management in all five of the world’s oceans.

Fifteen companies, incl representing 70% of global farmed salmon production, are committing that 100% of their production will be certified by the Aquaculture Stewardship Council by 2020. This should measurably reduce the impact of salmon production on some of the world's most ecologically important regions, and can have ripple effects through the entire global food industry.

Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra pledged to start a legislative process to end ivory trade in Thailand, which will help stem global wildlife trafficking. Nearly 1.5 million WWF, Leonardo DiCaprio and Avaaz supporters signed a petition calling on Thailand to ban its ivory trade. Ending the Thai ivory trade—currently the world’s largest unregulated ivory market—will aid in curbing the poaching crisis that is leading to the slaughter of tens of thousands of elephants each year.

WWF organized a global petition to urge the Mexican government to ban gillnets from the vaquita’s marine habitat, and more than 38,000 people from 127 countries and territories participated in the effort. The Mexican government will begin phasing out drift gillnets used for shrimp fishing in the upper Gulf of California in favor of more selective and vaquita-friendly fishing gear. This gear—developed and tested by WWF—reduces bycatch of the critically endangered vaquita porpoise while still allowing fishers to continue earning their livelihoods.

A camera trap set up by WWF and the Vietnamese government’s Forest Protection Department captured images of the saola—one of the rarest and most threatened mammals on the planet—for the first time in the 21st century. Saola have been documented in the wild by scientists on only four previous occasions since their discovery in 1992 by a joint team from Vietnam’s Ministry of Forestry (now called Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development) and WWF surveying the forests near Vietnam's border with Laos.

An ambitious new plan to protect and conserve snow leopards was endorsed by government representatives from the 12 Asian countries where the species roam. The goal is to ensure 20 healthy landscapes of snow leopards by 2020. Representatives also agreed to promote climate smart development that ensures water, food and energy security for the people living in and downstream from the high mountains of Asia.

From 2010 to 2013, 441 new species were scientifically identified in the Amazon, including a titi monkey that purrs like a cat and a new passion flower that sprouts spaghetti-like filaments from the center of the bloom. Various scientists described the new species and WWF compiled the list of 258 plants, 84 fish, 58 amphibians, 22 reptiles, 18 birds and one mammal.

Nepal’s government announced the country’s tiger population has increased by 63% since the last survey in 2009, putting the number of tigers at an estimated 198 with a range between 163-235. In Nepal, this massive wildlife survey—funded by WWF UK, WWF Australia, WWF US, the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation, the Hariyo Ban Program (funded by USAID), and US Fish and Wildlife Service—included more than 260 trained staff, camera traps covering 1,870 square miles of tiger habitat and 7,699 tiger images. In November, 2013 the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation announced a $3 million dollar grant for further tiger conservation in Nepal.

Source: WWF

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