New hope for coral reefs!
In case you missed it this August, we saw amazing news from New Caledonia, where the government has committed to stronger protection of its near-pristine coral reefs! :D
The new protected areas are part of the Natural Park of the Coral Sea of New Caledonia - an enormous conservation zone of 1.3 million km² - that was created in 2014. The five reefs covered under the new protection are considered exceptional examples of coral reef systems and the surrounding areas provide important nesting areas for seabirds and green turtles, and habitat for humpback whales.
Subject to numerous dangers, particularly from climate change, pollution and overfishing, coral reef habitats globally are at more risk than ever. Today, the world has already lost about half of its shallow water coral reefs :o This highlights why we need to see more ambition like this in coral reef conservation.
“With good management, these marine protected areas will help maintain fish populations and ecosystem health that will build the reefs’ resilience to the impacts of climate change in future. This leadership must inspire similar action by other governments.” - John Tanzer, Leader, Oceans, WWF.
In fact, coral reefs support a quarter of all known marine life on the planet, and this biodiversity translates directly into food security, income, and a multitude of other benefits to people, highlighting the incredible importance of these ecosystems! Find out more today.
World’s largest ocean protection plan now in place!
After years of intensive work, countries across the world reached an agreement on the world’s largest ocean protection plan for the Ross Sea off Antarctica - a huge win for oceans, the environment and planet Earth!
Described as one of the most pristine wilderness areas left on Earth, the Ross Sea is home to a wide range of wildlife - from the Adélie penguin to the South Pacific Weddell seals, Antarctic petrel and more! In addition to better protection for wildlife, the world’s largest ocean protection plan covering over 1.5 million km2 - an area the size of France, Germany and Spain combined - offers a beacon of hope for marine conservation, helping to combat the increasing pressure that the ocean faces each day - a much needed element in our efforts to change climate change!
As you read this piece of fantastic news, we hope you stay inspired to building a climate-friendly future for generations to come. Together, we can turn the tide on climate change :)
The Great Bear Region
Have you heard of the extraordinary Great Bear region in Canada? One of the richest cold-water seas in the world, it is home to an incredible range of biodiversity ranging from seabirds, to fish and whales. In addition, the Great Bear Rainforest is also the largest coastal temperate rainforest in the world, making it vital to protect this diverse region!
Earlier this year, we celebrated the news that 85 per cent of the Great Bear Rainforest will now be permanently protected from logging, highlighting the fact that together, it’s possible to protect our environment and the climate :) While this marks an important step towards conservation efforts and protecting the planet, there is still much work to be done, from ensuring the marine environment is used sustainably to maintaining a healthy ocean ecosystem (a vital component to change climate change)! To find out more, click through here.
A family of river otters swim in the inlets of the Great Bear Rainforest, British Columbia, Canada.
Crowdsourcing solutions for our oceans
Announced recently on the heels of ‘Our Ocean’ conference held in Washington D.C., WWF launched a new initiative with Conservation X Labs, which aims to challenge some of the most creative minds our world has to offer to innovate and discover solutions that could help our oceans become more resilient:)
Keeping in mind the integral role our vast blue oceans play in protecting our climate and supporting communities and livelihoods across the world, we believe this new initiative is an important step forward in our efforts to change climate change, in addition to tackling other issues such as unsustainable fishing, habitat destruction and more. Plus, the impact the Earth Hour movement has been able to achieve over the past decade is proof of the power of the crowd - and individuals like you - in creating a better and more climate-friendly future ;)
Latin America’s first Topten energy efficiency platform launches with support from WWF
Often, when we talk about climate change, the seemingly insurmountable challenge gives the impression that us individuals can barely make a difference to help. But the technology that we have today gives us an unprecedented opportunity to make eco-friendly choices that could help us in the movement to change climate change and shows us how every level of society, from governments to business and the general public plays a part in protecting the environment :)
Recognising the power of individuals to make better informed choices which in turn benefits the one planet that we all call home, Chile launched Latin America’s first Topten energy efficiency platform in August 2015 which enables consumers to identify the most efficient products and appliances ranging from light bulbs and lighting systems to air conditioners, freezers and cars. By making it easier for people to make informed choices, consumers save energy in addition to encouraging manufacturers to adopt more sustainable practices:)
While reducing energy consumption might not seem like much to one individual, it is an important factor in combating climate change - imagine the collective positive impact we can create if each and everyone of us across the entire planet does our part!
P.S. A photo from Earth Hour 2016 to remind you of the collective power of individuals;)
Ecuador enlarges Galapagos marine sanctuary!
Earlier this year, Ecuador showed us what it means to help turn the tide on climate change by creating a new marine sanctuary that now spans 2.8 million hectares - the size of Belgium!
With this new marine sanctuary that’s off limits to all fishing and extractive industries, the Ecuadorian government hopes to ease the rapid decline of the world’s shark population and help to repopulate the world’s ocean - which helps put food on the table for millions, absorbs 30 per cent of the carbon dioxide the world produces, and underpins trillions of dollars of economic activity worldwide :o In addition, a plan to help regulate management of the Galapagos protected areas was also approved, with support from WWF and partners.
You’ve already heard about how important our oceans are to our global climate and communities across the world, and add that to Galapagos’ status as a biodiversity hotspot and UNESCO World Heritage site, this piece of news is yet another conservation win that deserves to be celebrated :) Find out more here.
Africa’s LARGEST forest carbon project
Receiving good news on a Friday is like a cherry on the top of the cake - don’t you agree? ;) In this week’s Conservation Wins series, we take a look at the Democratic Republic of Congo’s (DRC) Emissions Reduction Programme Document (ERPD).
Announced in June this year, the programme will target drivers of deforestation in almost 10 million hectares of tropical forests in Mai-Ndombe province. Through incentives for positive results, the programme directly compensates communities for maintaining and managing their forests, thereby creating economic opportunities for 2 million people in the region, in addition to preventing 29 million tonnes of CO2 emissions :O
With DRC experiencing the highest levels of deforestation in the region, the US $200 million collaborative programme gives the country an unprecedented opportunity to counter forest loss at a huge scale, which is good news for all of us. After all, the Congo Basin is home to the second-largest tropical rainforest in the world and some of the most important areas of biodiversity on earth, helping protect our climate and bringing us closer in our efforts to change climate change! :)
A child from the Mai-Ndombe region in the Democratic Republic of Congo smiles for the camera. © Julie Pudlowski / WWF
Fishery Improvement Projects
From providing livelihoods to protecting marine life, the ocean sustains us in many ways and underpins trillions of dollars of economic activity worldwide. In fact, the ocean’s health is intrinsically linked to the health of our climate - it produces half the oxygen we breathe and absorbs 30 per cent of the anthropogenic emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2), as well as around 93 per cent of the added heat arising from human-driven changes to the atmosphere!
With this in mind, protecting the vast blue sea is paramount to ensuring a sustainable future for our environment and generations to come, and one of the many ways WWF is doing that is through improving fishing practices and management through Fishery Improvement Projects. In the Bahamas for instance, critical issues that often challenge fisheries include government capacity to address illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing; adopting a harvest strategy; reviewing management performance and more. The active involvement of FIP stakeholders and other organisations such as The Nature Conservancy drives improvements against the Marine Stewardship Council standard - the leading programme to ensure wild-caught fisheries are well-managed and sustainable.
With 90 per cent of fish stocks fully exploited or significantly depleted today, the need for sustainable fishing practices grows more urgent every day. If we restore the balance, the ocean can contribute to food security, livelihoods, a healthy climate and more! Whether it’s through Fishery Improvement Projects or delivering on science-based policies, find out how WWF is helping to sustain our seas and how you can contribute too :)
WWF wetlands milestone reached!
Once thought of as useless and disease ridden ‘wastelands’, wetlands have come a long way in overcoming that misconception as we begin to realise just how valuable they are to the environment. In addition to providing homes to a wide variety of biodiversity, they also perform all kinds of useful functions like flood control and water purification. However, wetlands face various kinds of threats: from pollution to dams and climate change, where rising sea levels are swamping shallow wetlands and drowning some species of mangrove trees, which are vital ecosystems that benefit communities and the marine environment.
Given its conservation importance, the protection and restoration of wetlands remains a WWF priority and just this year, the area of wetlands designated for protection and sustainable management under the Ramsar Convention, with WWF’s support, reached 100 million hectares worldwide, with the declaration of Zimbabwe’s ﬁrst seven Ramsar sites - a HUGE milestone for WWF and our environment! While more than 70 per cent of the world’s wetlands have been lost in the last century, achievements like this give us hope in building a better and more sustainable future for Earth :)
Amazon Sustainable Landscapes Program
Spanning across eight countries such as Brazil, Bolivia, Guyana and more, the Amazon is a vast region that supports over 30 million people and is home to one in ten known species on Earth and 4,100 miles of winding rivers. Containing 90-140 billion metric tons of carbon, the rainforests also help stabilize local and global climate, making it one of WWF’s conservation priorities.
Given the sheer size of this majestic rainforest, protecting it is no easy feat, which is why this programme announced in December was a major win for the region and our collective environment! An innovative scheme to protect ecosystems across the Amazon, the Global Environment Facility (GEF) approved US$113 million for the Amazon Sustainable Landscapes Program, with an expected US$682 million in additional ﬁnancing over the next ﬁve years. Aiming to protect globally signiﬁcant biodiversity and mitigate climate change by fostering sustainable land use, protected area management and restoration of vegetation cover, this initiative is definitely a conservation win for our planet, its people and wildlife :)
Tun Mustapha Park, Malaysia’s largest Marine Park
Following more than a decade of dedicated efforts by government authorities and civil society, Tun Mustapha Park, Malaysia’s largest marine park was finally officially gazetted in May 2016! The formation of the park will help protect almost 1 million hectares of coral reef, mangrove, seagrass and productive fishing grounds including more than 50 islands :) Given the incredible value of our oceans, we’re super stoked to see this marine park come to life, which marks an important step forward in protecting valuable coastal marine resources and promoting sustainable development, which would no doubt help us turn the tide on climate change as well!
In fact, the creation of the Tun Mustapha park also comes as a much needed win for ecosystems across the Coral Triangle, located in the western Pacific Ocean which includes the waters of Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, and more. With the impacts of climate change leading to widespread coral bleaching, sea level rise, ocean acidification and more in the region, the survival of endangered marine animals and local livelihoods are being threatened; but with efforts like this, we’re positive we can build a better tomorrow for our oceans, its amazing biodiversity and Planet Earth! To find out more, click through here.
© WWF-Malaysia / Mazidi Abd Ghani
Singapore Alliance on Sustainable Palm Oil
In this new series, we bring you success stories of conservation efforts across the world, giving us the hope and confidence that together, we can build a better future by protecting Earth’s precious resources and all of its biodiversity! Kicking off the series is the Singapore Alliance on Sustainable Palm Oil which was recently announced in June 2016. Working on the aim of increasing the availability of certified sustainable palm oil by manufacturers and retailers, the alliance aims to ensure consumers are offered environmentally-conscious options for the many products which contain palm oil.
Why is this important? While many of us might think that palm oil is the enemy, the truth is this versatile oil has a higher yield per hectare and requires less fertilisers and pesticides than any other alternative. Furthermore, it creates employment and often lifts people in rural regions out of poverty. However, driven by the growing demand of palm oil and pulp and paper, many farmers adopted the slash-and-burn method of clearing land for cultivation, leading to the widespread problem of transboundary haze pollution, which has been plaguing Southeast Asia since 1982, most notably Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei, and to a lesser extent Thailand, Vietnam, and the Philippines.
It is hoped that this new alliance will help put a stop to the illegal slash-and-burn method of clearing land, which would in turn ease the pollution that has been plaguing Southeast Asia, while tackling deforestation and offering the ‘lungs of the Earth’ better protection! Find out more about the alliance here.
© Edward Parker / WWF