WWF: 10 Wildlife Success Stories of 2014
As the year winds down, World Wildlife Fund and our dedicated supporters have cause to celebrate many positive impacts made for wildlife and people over the past 12 months.
WWF's work has evolved from saving species and landscapes to addressing the larger global threats and forces that impact them. We’ve made significant progress on and achieved ambitious goals in six key areas: forests, oceans, freshwater, wildlife, food and climate.
While the road ahead holds more challenges, it’s important to take a moment and note the meaningful wins for wildlife in 2014.
Take a look:
1. Protecting the Amazon for life
The Amazon is home to one in 10 known species and provides a home for 30 million people—and now 150 million acres of that rainforest is protected. The government of Brazil, working in partnership with WWF and other stakeholders, turned an expanse of Brazilian rainforest larger than all the US national parks combined into a combination of sustainable-use and strict protected areas. With national and international funding and leadership of the Brazilian government, we’ve protected a place that stabilizes our planet’s climate and hosts incredible biodiversity. The success of the Amazon Region Protected Areas (ARPA) is credited in no small part to the strong participation of those in surrounding Amazon communities who see its benefits and want it to continue to flourish.
2. A global call for climate action
This year more than ever, people stood up to demand action from world leaders to address the climate crisis. On Sept. 21, hundreds of thousands of individuals flooded the streets of New York to bring attention to the need for stronger climate policy and more renewable energy. WWF helped elevate the conversation in the months leading up to the march, helping businesses chart a sustainable path forward with The 3% Solution and encouraging homeowners to install solar panels through the Renewable It’s Doable program. And on March 28, more than 162 countries and 7,000 cities participated in Earth Hour—a global movement with the goal of creating a sustainable future for the planet.
3. Charting a path for the future of our oceans
Illegal fishing is a global challenge and complex by nature; it’s nearly impossible to know where each fish was caught and how, meaning illegally caught fish can unknowingly end up on our dinner plates. In June, President Obama announced he would direct the US government toward a new national strategy to address black market fishing, and plans to lead the fight to protect world oceans. The administration brought together a task force to outline solutions to address black market fishing and seafood fraud. WWF and our supporters are taking action to ensure the task force recommendations outline a strategy that can tackle international illegal fishing while creating a level playing field for US fishermen and supporting smart decisions by American consumers.
4. Tigers flourish in transboundary areas
Conservation efforts are paying off for tigers, even across the national borders that cut through their habitat. WWF worked with governments, research institutions and local communities in the Terai Arc Landscape—an area shared by India and Nepal—to track the status of tigers. A total of 239 individual adult tigers were identified from camera trap photos. The research showed that tigers continue to use three key forest corridors between Nepal and India; these corridors provide vital links between protected areas on both sides of the international border. Results of the study prove we must think and act beyond islands of protected areas for tigers to truly thrive and for populations to grow.
5. Governments implement strategies to fight wildlife crime
WWF is leading a global campaign to stop wildlife crime, which threatens important species and people. Now, the US government is stepping up to end the criminal activity. In February, the Obama Administration unveiled its first-ever National Strategy for Combating Wildlife Trafficking, a plan that will strengthen enforcement to fight wildlife crime; reduce consumer demand for illegal animal products; and build international cooperation to end the violence. The world also rallied together in London, when 46 countries—including those most heavily impacted by poaching and illegal trade of wildlife—signed on to measures that will help tackle the crisis.
6. Introduced first international standards for water stewardship
WWF partnered with global leaders through the Alliance for Water Stewardship (AWS) to promote the use of freshwater in a way that is socially, economically and environmentally beneficial. In April, AWS launched the International Water Stewardship Standard, the first global framework to credibly promote and recognize sustainable water use. Designed to motivate private-and public-sector organizations to become effective water stewards, the Standard uses a six-step approach to promote responsible water governance, sustainable water balance, good water quality, and restoration of important water areas. This will help protect valuable freshwater resources and the animals and people that depend on them for survival.
7. Advances for monarchs across three nations
Monarch butterflies migrate across three nations: Canada, the United States, and Mexico. It’s up to all three countries to partner to protect the species as they journey up to 2,800 miles across international borders. In February, President Obama, Mexican President Peña Nieto, and Canadian Prime Minister Harper committed their nations to creating a task force to protect the monarch butterfly migration. Recent scientific evidence from WWF and Mexico’s National Commission on Natural Protected Areas documents a steady decline of monarch butterflies in hibernating sanctuaries in Mexico. This new working group is the first step toward saving the migration and protecting food sources and habitat in all three countries.
8. Reshaping agriculture through global partnerships
WWF provided advice and support to three multilateral organizations to develop programs to address the impacts of agriculture commodity production on the environment. The World Bank, the Global Environment Facility (GEF), and the Convention on Biological Diversity are all adapting WWF strategies to improve agriculture’s impact on the planet. The World Bank added rehabilitation of degraded and underperforming land as a main focus of its climate-smart agriculture strategy; the GEF approved a $45 million, five-year pilot project on agricultural commodities and the environment; and the Convention on Biological Diversity approved a two-year program to develop biodiversity indicators for commodity production.
9. Nepal celebrates a year of zero poaching
As wildlife crime escalates around the world, the Himalayan country of Nepal achieved a full year of no poaching. Not a single case of rhino, elephant or tiger poaching took place for 365 days—a milestone marked in February. This is the second time Nepal has had a year of zero poaching since 2011. The success represents integrated and sustained efforts to reduce wildlife crime. Rangers on the group, community-based anti-poaching units, and enforcement agencies all contributed to the win. WWF has supported wildlife conservation in Nepal since the 1960s and has nearly 100 local staff and many partners making advances in conservation.
10. Congress takes steps to protect the Northern Great Plains
Stretching across five states and more than 180 million acres, the Northern Great Plains is home to wildlife and people who depend on grasslands. In February, the US Congress passed the 2014 Farm Bill, a piece of legislation that plays a critical role in conserving America’s grasslands, protecting native species, and preserving a rural way of life. The Farm Bill will protect the Northern Great Plains from threats such as grassland plow-up and habitat fragmentation. More than 30,000 WWF members and supporters reached out to their Congressional representatives to let them know that conservation of our natural resources is vital to the future of American agriculture.