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WWF Freshwater

News feed from the World Wide Fund for Nature on Rivers, Lakes & Wetlands.

Jun 27, 2014 Effects of Laos dam project to be revealed
WWF welcomes the Lao Government's decision to have the Don Sahong hydropower project undergo a formal consultation process, a decision likely to delay construction of the project. The consultation process requires Laos to hold inter-governmental consultations before proceeding with the dam, and conduct and share studies on the project's environmental and the social impacts. The process will take at least six months to complete. "Laos is now promising to do what they already signed up to under the Mekong agreement, and should have done months ago" said Marc Goichot, WWF-Greater Mekong's lead on sustainable hydropower. "Their decision to consult on the Don Sahong project, and share critical details about the project's impacts, comes after intense pressure from neighbouring countries. It is critical that pressure is maintained to ensure Laos delivers on their promise." In September last year, Laos announced its decision to proceed with the Don Sahong dam, bypassing the Mekong River Commision's (MRC) consultation process. The much-criticised project was discussed at the June 26-27 meeting of the MRC - an inter-governmental agency made up of representatives from the four Lower Mekong nations -- Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam. The Don Sahong dam threatens the Mekong's critically endangered Irrawaddy dolphins and will block the only channel available for dry-season fish migration, putting the world's largest inland fishery at risk. Close to 200,000 people have signed WWF's petition calling on the dam builder, Mega First, to pull out of the project. "We thank people around the world who signed the WWF's petition to stop the Don Sahong dam," added Goichot. "Mega First would do well to listen to the growing voices of opposition to this disastrous project and reconsider their engagement." The Don Sahong dam is the second dam on the Lower Mekong mainstem, following the controversial Xayaburi dam that Laos has begun constructing despite opposition from neighbouring Cambodia and Vietnam. "The Mekong River Commission's joint decision-making process was effectively broken in 2012 when Laos decided unilaterally to proceed with Xayaburi dam, against the express wishes of Vietnam and Cambodia," added Goichot. "There is currently little faith in the MRC's process to ensure joint decisions are made for the benefit of all Mekong nations. If Laos fails to be held to account, the MRC will soon lose its legitimacy and 60 million people living in the Mekong basin will suffer."
May 21, 2014 Global freshwater conservation gains momentum among UN countries
Thirty-five member countries of the United Nations have now officially agreed to common guidelines for sharing and managing freshwater resources that cross international borders. With Vietnam's ratification, the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Non-Navigational Uses of International Watercourses (UNWC) will go into effect in August, transforming the way governments share fresh water and settle water-related disputes. The agreement comes at a crucial moment. Climate change is influencing water quality and quantities, and people and wildlife are experiencing more volatile periods of droughts and floods. Growing populations and incomes are changing how people live, increasing and diversifying the demands placed on fresh water. Developing countries especially are using their water resources in new ways, particularly for industry and energy. There are 276 international rivers worldwide, with 60 per cent of the planet's freshwater flows. What one country does with its water impacts all others that share the same freshwater system. The UNWC will help countries manage local water concerns in a way that protects freshwater resources and ecosystems throughout an entire basin. Vietnam represents the first Asian country to ratify the UNWC, and does so from a particularly important region: the Greater Mekong . The Mekong River passes through six countries and fuels the 'rice bowl' of Asia. It is the world's most productive inland fishery, supporting the livelihoods and food security of some 60 million people. "This new set of rules is good for both people and nature," says Lifeng Li, Director of WWF's global freshwater programme. "Habitats and wildlife are not bound by national borders, and some of the most important conservation areas are linked to international rivers and lakes. "WWF has been working with countries and partners around the world to raise awareness of the UNWC and sow the seeds of cooperation. We look forward to supporting the roll-out of the guidelines and continuing to encourage nations to ratify and implement the convention in support of better water management," says Li.
May 16, 2014 Amazon survey investigates fish and communities in region targeted for hydropower development
WWF has launched a 12-day survey of Brazil's Juruena River focusing on migratory fish species and how communities near the river use its resources. The Juruena River flows through Juruena National Park, feeds the magnificent Salto Augusto falls, and is part of the wider Amazon basin. The study will target a fish species known locally as "matrinxã" (Brycon amazonicus). Ayslaner Gallo, one of the project's coordinators, says the bigger specimens of fish will be tagged so they can be tracked by remote monitoring systems. "With the tracking information in hand, we can come back to the region and find out what happened to these animals, see where they are and how they have developed, and identify other aspects of their behaviour," Gallo says. To better understand the pressures on the river as well as the services it provides, the research team will interview community members in Aldeia do Pontal, Barra de São Manoel and Colares, and isolated families living along the banks of the Juruena and Teles Pires rivers. Fishermen will be asked about which fish species they catch most, how often they fish, and how many fishermen are active in the area. The data will be tabulated to obtain a profile of all fishing activities in the vicinity. "This initial study is designed to build our knowledge of migratory fish species dynamics, and the social and economic aspects of the communities in regard to available resources," says Claudio Maretti, leader of WWF's Living Amazon Initiative. The Juruena River is situated in the larger Tapajos River basin. "The Brazilian government has identified the Tapajos River basin is the next frontier for hydroelectric projects in the Amazon. The construction of a hydroelectric dam completely alters the ecological, social and economic dynamics of a region. So it is of fundamental importance to get to know those aspects beforehand," says Maretti. WWF has supported five expeditions to the Juruena National Park since 2006, and another two in the surrounding Southern Amazon region. Each was designed to enhance scientific understanding of the region's geography and biodiversity, with the goal of informing community and government decisions about how to manage natural resources. In 2013, WWF donated a floating research base to the Juruena National Park and supported workshops aimed at stimulating community-based tourism as well as other sustainable economic activities. For more information, contact Denise Oliveira, Communication Coordinator, Doliveira@wwf.org.br   61 8175.2695 / 61 3364.7497
Mar 30, 2014 NGOs set one-year deadline to stop Xayaburi dam
Bangkok, Thailand – Leading non-governmental organisations (NGOs) today issued a joint declaration in opposition to on-going construction of the Xayaburi dam on the Mekong River mainstem, and called on the Thai government to cancel the Power Purchase Agreement relating to the controversial hydropower project. The declaration, signed by 40 international and national NGOs and civil society group s, including International Rivers and WWF, comes ahead of this week's Mekong River Commission (MRC) Summit, attended by heads of government from the four Lower Mekong countries. The summit will address challenges facing the Mekong River Basin and regional cooperation. As the first dam to enter the MRC's consultation process, the Xayaburi project is a crucial test case for 10 other dams proposed for the Lower Mekong mainstem. The MRC process requires countries to jointly review projects proposed for the Mekong mainstem with an aim to reach consensus on whether they proceed or not. "Cambodia and Viet Nam have never approved of the Xayaburi dam. Nevertheless, Laos is marching ahead with construction without agreement among its neighbours," said Kraisak Choonhavan, leading environmental activist and former Chairman of Thailand's Senate Foreign Affairs Committee. "The Xayaburi project severely weakens the legitimacy of the MRC and threatens the health and productivity of the Mekong River and Delta, which could leave millions facing food insecurity. The Mekong Summit is the critical moment for Cambodia and Viet Nam to take a strong stance and make their concerns heard loud and clear before it's too late." According to Pöyry, the Finnish consulting firm advising Laos on the dam engineering, a coffer dam - used to divert the river's flow away from the in-river construction site - will be built in the first quarter of 2015. This will be the first direct intervention in the river bed during the dry season, and will mark the start of major irreversible environmental impacts. Thailand main consumer of energy produced by Xayaburi dam Thailand is slated to be the prime consumer of the electricity produced by the $US3.8 billion Xayaburi dam, and a syndicate of six Thai banks is financing the project, despite the acute environmental and social costs, and the uncertainties surrounding the financial return of the project. "It's not too late to stop this disastrous dam before irreversible harm occurs early next year," said Dr. Saranarat Oy Kanjanavanit, Secretary-General of Thailand's Green World Foundation. "Thailand must act responsibly and cancel its premature power purchase agreement until there is regional consensus on mainstem Mekong dams. And if the Thai banks reconsider their risk assessments, and value their international reputation and financial returns, they'd do well to pull out of this project." One of the world's most damaging dams In the joint declaration, the organizations recognise the Xayaburi project as one of the potentially most damaging dams currently under construction anywhere in the world, constituting the greatest transboundary threat to date to food security, sustainable development and regional cooperation in the Lower Mekong, and that the project's Environmental Impact Assessment does not meet any internationally-accepted standards. Expert reviews of Xayaburi dam have identified serious gaps in data and weaknesses with the proposed fish passes for the mega dam, and confirmed the Xayaburi project will block part of the sediment flow, destabilising the river's ecosystem upon which farmers, fishers and many other economic sectors depend. "Without the results of the on-going environmental studies, dam development on the lower Mekong mainstream is now largely guesswork," said Ame Trandem, Southeast Asia Programme Director for International Rivers. "But Laos expects its neighbours to take a dangerous leap of faith and trust that the risks associated with this project will somehow be resolved while construction moves ahead. This dubious approach not only pre-empts the conclusions of the studies, but clearly contravenes international best practice." The Lower Mekong, one of the world's last large untamed stretches of river, supports nearly 60 million people with its rich fisheries. In order for migratory fish to move up and down the river they would need swim through the dam via the proposed fish passages. No proven solutions for mitigating Xayaburi dam's impacts "There are no internationally accepted, technologically proven solutions for mitigating the Xayaburi dam's impacts on fish migrations and sediment flows," said Marc Goichot, Sustainable Hydropower Lead with WWF-Greater Mekong. "Resting the future of the Mekong on flawed analysis could have dire consequences for the livelihoods of millions of people living in the Mekong Basin." The NGO coalition supports Viet Nam's official response to the MRC's consultation process on 15 April, 2011 in which Viet Nam strongly requested "that the decision on the Xayaburi hydropower project as well as all other planned hydropower projects on the Mekong mainstem be deferred for at least 10 years", a recommendation previously stated by the MRC's 2010 Environmental Assessment for proposed mainstem dams. Progression and impacts of xayaburi dam construction from fmkellogg
Mar 22, 2014 Powerful tool helps explain water risk
Gland, Switzerland: Water crises ranked third among 10 global risks of highest concern in 2014, according to the World Economic Forum's annual Global Risks Perception Survey. With water risk on the agenda of business and investors as never before, WWF unveils its updated Water Risk Filter. The free online tool allows users to map production facilities, supply chains and commodities. The new version of the website includes data on more than 120 agricultural commodities – including cotton, palm oil and corn – making it the most sophisticated tool for tracking water risk exposure. "What we're seeing with water is a real convergence of the business agenda and the conservation agenda," says Jochem Verberne, Head of Corporate Relations at WWF International. "Companies and investors are beginning to understand that their futures depend on a natural resource that is shared among many users. That creates business risk, and it creates incentive to be part of the solution. The Water Risk Filter can help." The Water Risk Filter generates a score based on the physical, regulatory and reputational risk related to water in basins around the world. It also includes an extensive risk mitigation toolbox, allowing the user to reference relevant case studies demonstrating actions to improve water management. Although now much more powerful, the Water Risk Filter remains too easy not to use. By simply inputting a facility location or a commodity and where it's grown, the user will receive information identifying risk hot spots. Once those locations have been identified, the user can review possible responses in the filter's mitigation toolbox. Close to 50,000 individual facilities have been assessed by the Water Risk Filter since its original release. Over 1,500 different organizations have used the tool, including global fashion retailer H&M, which utilized the filter when creating a new water strategy for its entire value chain. "The Water Risk Filter helped us see all the places where water touches our business, and create strategies to address raw material risks, support supplier factories and improve efficiency in our own stores and offices," says Felix Ockborn, Environmental Sustainability Coordinator for water at H&M. "The tool helped us see that working beyond our direct operations to promote sustainable water management is in the best interest of our business." First released by WWF in 2012, the Water Risk Filter was developed in collaboration with the German development finance institution DEG. The website can be accessed at http://waterriskfilter.panda.org/ .
Feb 19, 2014 Dam threatens survival of Mekong dolphins
Phnom Penh, Cambodia – The Lao government's decision to forge ahead with the Don Sahong hydropower project in southern Laos, located just one kilometre upstream of the core habitat for Mekong dolphins, could precipitate the extinction of the species from the Mekong River, warns a new WWF brief. According to the WWF paper, the dam builders intend to excavate millions of tonnes of rock using explosives, creating strong sound waves that could potentially kill dolphins which have highly sensitive hearing structures. Increased boat traffic, changes in water quality, and habitat degradation represent other major direct risks to the dolphins, along with the cumulative indirect effects of disturbance and stress. "Plans to construct the Don Sahong dam in a channel immediately upstream from these dolphins will likely hasten their disappearance from the Mekong," said Chhith Sam Ath, WWF-Cambodia's Country Director. "The dam's impacts on the dolphins probably cannot be mitigated, and certainly not through the limited and vague plans outlined in the project's environmental impact assessment." Freshwater Irrawaddy dolphins are critically endangered in the Mekong River, where their numbers have dwindled to around 85 individuals restricted to a 190km stretch of the Mekong River mainstream between southern Laos and north-east Cambodia. The dolphins are already threatened from accidental entanglement in gillnets and low calf survival, additional pressures on the population will likely herald their demise. "Pressures on the Mekong dolphins are immense, but as long as they survive there is hope," added Sam Ath. "But the attitude implicit in the dam developer's impact assessment – that the dolphin population is already vulnerable and therefore should not stand in the way of development – will do nothing but seal their fate." In September last year, Laos announced its decision to proceed with the Don Sahong dam on the Mekong mainstream, bypassing the Mekong River Commission's (MRC) consultation process. The dam will block the only channel suitable for year-round fish migration, putting the world's largest inland fishery at risk. Despite objections from neighbouring countries, construction is expected to start soon and finish in early 2018. Alternatives to the Don Sahong dam exist, such as the Thako Project, which could generate approximately the same amount of electricity as Don Sahong but at lower cost and with far less impacts as it does not involve building a barrier across any of the channels of the Mekong mainstream. Unfortunately the Thako project cannot move ahead if the Don Sahong dam proceeds as they would be competing for the same water. "It is not too late to suspend the Don Sahong project and consider smarter alternatives," said Gerry Ryan, Technical Advisor with WWF-Cambodia and author of the brief. "Not building the Don Sahong dam is not an irreparable blow to the development aspirations of Laos, or their ability to produce electricity, but building it will almost certainly cause the extirpation of their dolphins and threaten critical fisheries." Mekong dolphins also have great cultural significance to local communities and bring tangible livelihood benefits. "Dolphin-watching tours are a major contributor to growth, bringing in much needed income to local communities," added Ryan. "It is clear that saving the dolphins also means smart development." The dolphins are also an important indicator of the health and sound management of the freshwater resources, and their decline could signal a potentially devastating decline in the health of the entire river ecosystem. WWF is calling for the suspension of the Don Sahong dam to allow decisions to be reached using sound science and in consultation with impacted countries. "Lower Mekong countries are bound by the MRC agreement to hold inter-governmental consultations before proceeding with dams that impact their neighbours," said Sam Ath. "Laos' failure to honour the consultation agreement is threatening transboundary cooperation, the livelihoods and food security of millions, and critically endangered species."
Jan 30, 2014 WWF and H&M: The journey of water stewardship – year one
One year ago, WWF signed a partnership with the global fashion company H&M with the goal of developing a cutting-edge water stewardship strategy – one that works across the supply chain and can serve as a model for the fashion industry and beyond. "Long-term success in sustainable water management takes time. But this partnership is built on an understanding that water is a shared resource and a shared risk for business, communities and nature. We are on a journey together to create solutions that work for all water users," says Stuart Orr, Head of Water Stewardship at WWF International. In year one, we have already started to see the first achievements of the partnership. "We quickly realised that both organisations share common views and want to achieve tangible results. Since the launch, we have made water awareness part of H&M's global sustainability training for all 104,000 employees. Together, we have mapped water risks for H&M's 500 supplier factories working with wet processes and updated our routines to monitor wastewater treatment. Through the partnership, H&M is also supporting a WWF conservation project in China's Yangtze River basin," said Helena Helmersson, H&M's Head of Sustainability. "The problems of water supply and quality are felt across society, and by the species that rely on freshwater ecosystems. Shared risks to water security require collaborative action," said Jim Leape, Director General of WWF International. "By working with H&M, we want to inspire a shift of the whole fashion industry toward responsible water stewardship. The aims of this partnership are high, and so are the stakes." Going well beyond water efficiency in textile factories, this partnership will advocate for better water management plans in key river basins in China and Bangladesh. These management plans should account for ecological sustainability, continued economic benefits from natural resources and meet people's needs. H&M is also supporting WWF's work to save the iconic Yangtze finless porpoise. The species acts as an indicator of the health of the river system, and is currently under severe stress. Specific activities to safeguard the porpoises include improving sustainable fisheries and decreasing pollution from agriculture through farmer education.
Dec 17, 2013 Caviar from endangered sturgeon not suitable for Christmas
Caviar should be crossed off Christmas gift lists whenever possible to give highly endangered sturgeon a chance to recover in the wild. Sturgeon worldwide are teetering on the brink of extinction because of the persistent trade in their valuable caviar. Although legal fishing is strictly regulated in most countries, illegal fishing and trade continue. Caviar is considered a delicacy and is one of the world's most expensive wildlife products. "It's about being aware of what you buy, and the impact it can have on species and on the environment," said WWF's Sturgeon Expert, Jutta Jahrl, "anyone planning to buy a gift of caviar from wild sturgeon – for example Beluga - should reconsider." All sturgeon species are protected under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). At present, international trade in wild caviar from shared stocks - like the Caspian Sea or the Danube - is not allowed. According to trade statistics, the European Union, the United States and Switzerland are the largest importers of caviar with 81% of all legal caviar imports between 1998 and 2006. France and Germany are the largest markets in Europe. "One century ago, six species of this ancient fish were native to the Danube, but today five of them are classified as critically endangered. The main reason for this dramatic status is the unsustainable appetite for caviar," said Jahrl. In response to declining numbers, most countries along the Danube and the Black Sea have implemented catch and trade bans. Caviar smugglers using sophisticated methods also pose a dangerous threat to sturgeon populations, making saving sturgeon more that just a wildlife protection issue. "The catch and trade ban didn't stop the proliferation of illegal trade in caviar," Jahrl said. "Continuing seizures of illegal caviar in Europe indicate that there is a thriving black market in the whole region." Consumers determined to buy caviar from sturgeon should be cautious and make sure it comes in a tin or jar that is sealed by a non-reusable CITES label. The labelling requirements apply to all caviar, whether from wild caught or from farmed sturgeons. WWF is working to secure the long-term survival of sturgeon with their high natural and economic value. WWF's EU project "Joint actions to raise awareness on overexploitation of Danube sturgeons in Romania and Bulgaria" aims to tackle overfishing and poaching, the main threats to the survival of Danube sturgeon. In addition to overexploitation, sturgeon populations are adversely affected by the construction of dams, which interrupt their spawning migration, and by habitat changes meant to make the Danube more navigable.
Dec 05, 2013 A WWF restoration project in Hungary brings life back to a Danube island
Budapest - WWF has successfully concluded its largest conservation project in Hungary which revitalised a 3 km long side arm and brought back the natural floodplain forest of Liberty Island on the Danube River. The project also contributes to securing drinking water for the citizens of Pecs and Mohacs and enhances opportunities for eco-friendly tourism and recreation in the area. Although part of a nature conservation area, the side branch of the island has been artificially blocked by a rockfill dam more than 30 years ago. The idea was to sustain more water in the main river branch instead of the side arm so that navigation is improved. Additionally, water pipes have been placed in the dam to take drinking water from the wells on one side of the side arm and send it to a purification station on the other. As a result the riverbed has filled up fast. It became a big mud pond with a stagnant surface. Water was flowing only for several days every year, during the highest floods, accelerating sedimentation. WWF and partners decided to revitalise the side arm and create a good quality semi-natural softwood forest on Liberty Island. Both are important alluvial habitats for many fish and birds. The key element of the revitalisation was the opening of the rock fill dam and the dredging of the silted up side arm. Before opening of the dam, the water pipes located inside had to be relocated under the riverbed. During the 5-year restoration process WWF planted native, alluvial softwood forest which is typical of floodplain areas. The non-native tree plantations and colonising invasive plants were removed. After the restoration, the water flowing around the island is always at least two meters deep. There is a continuous connection with the main branch of the Danube River. It is no surprise that the first fish species are already returning to the side branch. Hopefully, they will spawn next spring. Key facts Liberty Island is located in South Hungary at the left side of the Danube River. It is about 3 km long and 150 m wide. Its territory is 47 ha. Liberty Island was purchased by WWF Hungary in 2009 on behalf of the Danube-Drava National Park Directorate with funding from the EU's Life + Nature fund and The Coca-Cola Company. The restoration works were carried out in partnership with the Danube-Drava National Park, the Lower-Danube District Water Management Directorate and the water company DRV.
Oct 30, 2013 Companies disclose ecological footprint of 82 million tonnes of pulp and paper
Gland, Switzerland — WWF recognizes the leadership in transparency of 25 of the world's most important pulp and paper manufacturers, as demonstrated by their participation in the WWF Environmental Paper Company Index 2013 . Companies voluntarily disclosed the ecological footprint of 40 product categories, more than doubling those evaluated in the 2011 index. The companies recognized for their transparency in today's launch of the WWF Environmental Paper Company Index (EPCI) 2013 together produce 14 per cent of the world´s paper and board, respectively 28 per cent of the world's graphic paper, 29 per cent of the world's newsprint, 14 per cent of the world's tissue and 6 per cent of the world's packaging. They also produce 14 per cent of the world's pulp. In alphabetical order, the 25 companies showing leadership in transparency in the EPCI 2013 are: Appleton Coated (North America), ARAUCO(South America), Arjowiggins Graphic (Europe), BillerudKorsnäs (Europe), Bio-PAPPEL (Central America), Cascades (North America), CMPC (South America), Domtar (North America), Fedrigoni (Europe), Fibria (South America), ITC (Asia), Klabin (South America), Lecta (Europe), Lenzing Papier (Europe), Metsä Group (Europe), Mondi (South Africa), NewPage (North America), Norske Skog (Europe), Resolute Forest Products (North America), SCA (Europe), Södra (Europe), Sofidel (Europe), Stora Enso (Europe), TNPL/Tamil Nadu (Asia), UPM (Europe). * Regions refer to headquarter locations. "We are delighted that over a third of the 70 globally significant players invited to participate in the WWF EPCI 2013 have taken this opportunity to disclose their sustainability performance and targets," says Emmanuelle Neyroumande, Manager of WWF International's pulp and paper work. "This robust participation shows a real interest by the companies in working towards reducing their ecological footprint." WWF's Environmental Paper Company Index covers the major impacts of the paper industry on the environment for the production of newspaper grades, graphic paper, packaging, tissue, or pulp. The companies scored against 3 aspects;impacts on forest ecosystems from fibre sourcing, emissions from manufacturing processes such as water pollution and greenhouse gas emissions and reporting and Environmental Management System. The criteria apply to both policy and production, hence measuring each company's targets and actual performance. WWF's projections show that higher incomes and a growing population will increase demand for many commodities, including food, fuel, timber and fibres 1 . Forest-based industries, which rely on resources that can be renewed, will be key to conserving forests in an age of resource scarcity and land-use competition. Even though the paper industry has shown some progress in recent decades, the globalized nature of the industry demands sector–wide, ambitious environmental goals for responsible sourcing, production and use of its products and maximum transparency. The WWF Environmental Paper Company Index can assist the pulp and paper industry on its path of continual improvement. "More important than the scores achieved is the transparency shown by the participants. Companies that declined to participate have missed a chance to demonstrate the efforts they might be undertaking to address environmental issues" says Neyroumande. In addition to reporting on environmental performance, companies participating in the WWF Environmental Paper Company Index can request WWF's advice and feedback on potential areas of improvement, potential risks and tools to support company efforts toward greater sustainability. For further information: Helma Brandlmaier, Senior Advisor Paper Footprint and Market Change WWF International Tel: +43676842728219 Email Notes to editors Access the WWF EPCI 2013 results on www.panda.org/epci2013 Early 2013 WWF invited 70 of the world's most important and strategically relevant paper manufacturers, representing 25 per cent of global wood pulp production and 35 per cent of global paper and paperboard production, to participate in the third edition of its Environmental Paper Company Index (EPCI). Find a list of all 70 invited companies on www.panda.org/epci2013 . The EPCI started in its current form in 2010. Participation has increased from 5 participants in 2010, to 15 (in 19 product categories) in 2011 and now 25 participants (in 40 product categories) in 2013. The Environmental Paper Company Index will continue to be highlighted biannually. Participants in the EPCI 2011 (in alphabetical order): Arjowiggins Graphic, Burgo, Cascades, Domtar, Fedrigoni, Korsnäs, Metsä Tissue, Mondi, M-real, Renova, SCA, Sofidel, Stora Enso, Suzano, UPM Participants in the EPCI 2010 (in alphabetical order): Domtar, Mondi, M-Real, Stora Enso, UPM The EPCI method looks at environmental aspects of a company's policies and targets, as well as the environmental performance of the overall production of a specific product category (newsprint, graphic paper, household and sanitary, packaging paper and boards, pulp). It includes the environmental performance from own pulp and paper production, as well as performance of market pulp purchased. 1 WWF´s Living Forest Report chapter 4 contains WWF´s 2050 projections www.panda.org/livingforests WWF tools to assist companies in the forest sector to improve their sustainability performance. the WWF´s Global Forest and Trade Network (GFTN ) assists companies in overcoming responsible forest management and responsible fiber purchasing challenges while progressing towards credible certification. The New Generations Plantations concept envisions forest plantations that maintain ecosystem integrity, protect high conservation values and are developed through effective stakeholder participation, while contributing to economic growth and employment. The New Generation Plantations platform collects knowledge and good practices in plantation forestry in order to promote better plantation management by sharing this information. WWF´s Check Your Paper database assists business to business information sharing on the forest, water and climate performance of paper brands.  The WWF Water Risk Filter is a free online tool covering all relevant water risk indicators, for all industries and all countries in the world.  WWF`s Climate Savers programme is WWF's global platform to engage business and industry on climate and energy issues.  Contact the WWF International Paper Team .  About WWF WWF is one of the world's largest and most respected independent conservation organizations, with over 5 million supporters and a global network active in over 100 countries. WWF's mission is to stop the degradation of the earth's natural environment and to build a future in which humans live in harmony with nature, by conserving the world's biological diversity, ensuring that the use of renewable natural resources is sustainable, and promoting the reduction of pollution and wasteful consumption.
Oct 10, 2013 WWF launches Green Heart of Europe to protect nature across 12 countries
Salamanca/Vienna: WWF launched a new initiative to save and protect nature across 12 countries in Central and Eastern Europe. The Green Heart of Europe aims to protect the five natural riches of the region: forests, wilderness, large carnivores, rivers and wetlands, and the Danube sturgeon. WWF launched the Green Heart of Europe at WILD 10 , the World Wilderness Congress in Salamanca, Spain, which gathers governments, businesses, conservation and development NGOs, as well as community representatives from around the world to discuss the protection and sustainable development of natural habitats on our planet. "From the Danube basin to the Carpathian Mountains, our region, the Green Heart of Europe, includes many of the continent's greatest natural treasures. WWF has been working since the 1990s to save it for the benefit of local people and humanity," says Andreas Beckmann, Director of WWF's Danube-Carpathian Programme. The new WWF initiative covers the largest remaining area of virgin and natural forests in Europe outside of northern Scandinavia and Russia (with the primeval beech forests of Ukraine and Slovakia) and Europe's most spectacular remaining wilderness areas outside of Russia (including the southern Carpathians and the Danube Delta). The initiative will see better collaboration among partners such as government, NGOs and local communities as well as ensuring the full implementation of existing tools like regional and international protection frameworks, strong legislation and government commitments to ensure the protection of this diverse region. The region shelters two-thirds of the European populations of large carnivores such as bears, lynx and wolves. The Green Heart of Europe also includes most of Europe's last remaining intact rivers and wetlands, including the globally important Lower Danube Green Corridor and the Mura-Drava-Danube corridor, also known as "Europe's Amazon." These waters are home to the Beluga sturgeon, a 7-meter fish that has survived since the time of the dinosaurs, but now teeters on the edge of extinction. "The people of this region depend on these natural treasures. They provide us with essential goods and services, from timber and fish to clean water and climate regulation, and the essential 'green infrastructure' that secures our livelihoods and well-being," said WWF's Conservation Director for Central and Eastern Europe, Orieta Hulea. Unsustainable resource use and poorly planned infrastructure are causing the loss and fragmentation of forests, wetlands and wilderness. The treasures of the Green Heart of Europe are threatened by illegal and unsustainable logging of virgin and other high conservation value Forests, construction of roads, ski areas and other infrastructure, some of it illegal and much of it poorly planned. The rampant building of hundreds of large and small hydro and wind-power stations – many with limited benefits in terms of clean energy, but with massive impacts for streams, rivers and wildlife – and unsustainable agricultural practices are also threats. "We already have many of the tools needed to save the Green Heart of Europe. We have strong legislation, regional and international protection frameworks, government commitments, economic incentives and strong partnerships," says Beckmann. "Now we need to bring these together and ensure they are fully implemented to achieve their intended purpose."
Oct 04, 2013 Emergency Meeting of the Mekong River Commission Urgently Needed – WWF
Bangkok, Thailand – In the wake of the Laos government's decision this week to proceed with the Don Sahong dam on the Mekong River mainstream, bypassing the Mekong River Commission (MRC) process for consultation, WWF calls on Lower Mekong ministers to hold an emergency meeting. "The MRC was effectively broken in November last year when Laos decided unilaterally to proceed with the controversial Xayaburi dam, against the express wishes of Vietnam and Cambodia," said WWF International Director General Jim Leape. "It is impossible to imagine that the Mekong River can be harnessed sustainably without the MRC functioning properly, ensuring joint decisions are reached on dam developments that are to the benefit of all. "The four Lower Mekong countries must immediately revisit the spirit of the original MRC agreement and meet urgently to resolve their differences and fix the consultation process before any other dam projects are considered. If the countries fail to get serious about their obligation to cooperate, they risk sabotaging both the MRC and management of one of the world's great rivers." On the 30 September 2013, the Laos government notified the MRC – an inter-governmental agency made up of representatives from the four Lower Mekong countries – of its decision to proceed with the development of the Don Sahong hydropower project in the Siphandone area of southern Laos. The Don Sahong dam will block the only channel available for dry-season fish migrations on the Mekong River, putting the world's largest inland fishery at risk. The project's construction is expected to start next month and be finished by February 2018. Under the MRC agreement, all dams on the mainstream of the Mekong, which include the Don Sahong and Xayaburi dams, should go through the MRC's consultation process. This process allows for a minimum 6-month consultation with other countries to review the development projects with an aim to reach consensus on whether they should proceed. "The Mekong is a shared river, and the four countries are bound by the MRC agreement to hold inter-governmental consultations before proceeding with dam developments that impact their neighbours," said Leape. "Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand need to voice their concerns now about Laos' continued failures to honour the consultation agreement. Without effective transboundary cooperation, the livelihoods and food security of 60 million people are in jeopardy." Environment and water ministers from the four Lower Mekong countries had agreed in 2011 to delay a decision on building the US$3.5 billion Xayaburi dam pending further studies on its environmental impacts. Nonetheless, the Laos government decided to forge ahead with construction without consensus among its neighbours or notifying the MRC. Vietnam has also previously requested that no further developments on the Mekong mainstream occur until the Mekong mainstream dams study, agreed upon by the MRC in 2011, is completed. "The Xayaburi dam is a dangerous experiment," said WWF's Dr. Jian-hua Meng, WWF's Sustainable Hydropower Specialist. "The risk to fisheries, fish migration and impacts from sediment effects are immense, and the consequences for downstream countries dire. There are 11 dams planned on the lower mainstream of the Mekong, and the region can't afford to get a single one wrong. "There are locations on the Mekong that are suitable for genuinely sustainable hydropower, but the Lower Mekong countries must urgently get the MRC back on track to broker those negotiations and fill the major science and data gaps, or risk building dams by guesswork." WWF advises Lower Mekong countries considering hydropower projects to prioritise dams on some Mekong tributaries that are easier to assess and are considered to have a much lower impact and risk. 
Aug 26, 2013 WWF highlights global framework for water cooperation
Stockholm – With only a handful of countries needed before the UN Convention on the Law of the Non-Navigational Uses of International Watercourses (UNWC) enters into force, WWF and the Centre for Water Law, Policy and Science, University of Dundee present new research to better understand and implement this important global framework for water cooperation. Globally, there are 276 internationally shared watersheds, which drain the territories of 145 countries and represent more than 40 per cent of the Earth's land surface. The UNWC establishes the rights and duties of states sharing freshwater systems. It is designed to foster interstate cooperation on the sustainable management of transboundary waters in accordance with international law. To date, the convention counts 30 contracting states – only five short of the number required for entry into force, which now looks imminent. The joint WWF-CWLPS edited collection, "The UN Watercourses Convention in Force: Strengthening international law for transboundary water management," published by Earthscan, provides an assessment of the role and relevance of the UNWC as a key component of transboundary water governance. This unique collection draws together a decade of work led by WWF, along with numerous partners, to raise awareness and deepen knowledge of the UNWC among key stakeholders. The UNWC Global Initiative aims to contribute to the better management and protection of the world's iconic transboundary river basins, which include priority watersheds such as the Amazon, Congo and Mekong. The book includes contributions from more than 30 world-renowned experts in the multidisciplinary field of transboundary water management. The contributions describe the drafting and negotiation of the UNWC; the value of its entry into force; its relationship to other multilateral environmental agreements and development goals; and, through a series of case studies, the specific role of the convention at various levels across Latin America, Africa and Asia. The book concludes by proposing how the convention's future implementation might further strengthen international water cooperation. Flavia Rocha Loures, Senior Program Officer with WWF-US and a co-editor of the book, says the entry in force of the UNWC is vital to promote continued and peaceful collaboration and dialogue between riparian states, and will represent a significant step toward the better management, use and protection of transboundary waters. "We hope this book advances recognition of international law in general and the UNWC in particular as crucial tools for enabling the integrated management and sustainable development of international watercourses and the vital ecosystems services they provide for people and nature," she says. Join WWF to learn about the UN Watercourses Convention at Stockholm World Water Week Tuesday, 3 September 18:00, Booth B03:40 About the co-editors and other contributors: Flavia Rocha Loures is a Senior Program Officer, International Law and Policy, in the Freshwater Program of WWF-US, based in Washington, DC. Alistair Rieu-Clarke is a Reader in International Law at the Centre for Water Law, Policy & Science (under the auspices of UNESCO), at the University of Dundee, UK. Among the book's contributors are renowned international experts in the areas of international law and policy, political science and freshwater conservation. For further information and to order the book, please visit: http://www.routledge.com/books/details/9781849714464/ Ms. Loures is available for interviews, and can speak on the potential for conflict between countries sharing waters and the tools that exist to prevent them; and climate change impacts on international rivers and examples of cooperative responses. She can be contacted by phone or email: Flavia.loures@wwfus.org , +1 202 6409055
Jul 08, 2013 Indus River dolphin calves successfully rescued in eastern Pakistan
 Sukkur, Pakistan: A joint team of WWF-Pakistan and the Sindh Wildlife Department recently rescued two stray Indus River dolphin calves caught in a canal in eastern Pakistan. The calves, a male and female, were stranded in the Dehar Wah canal for two hours before the successful rescue saw them released 80 km downstream. Joint rescue teams from WWF-Pakistan and the Sindh Wildlife Department regularly carry out these operations. The stranded dolphins are carefully captured, placed on a stretcher, kept moist with water and wet towels, and transported in a sound-proof vehicle and released in the main stream of the Indus River. The stranding of Indus River dolphins in irrigation canals is a potential threat to their existing population. Dolphins regularly travel back and forth into irrigation canals when canal gates are open and during canal closure the water level drops and dolphins become trapped in small pools with depleting fish supply. Intensive fishing in canals during closure period also aggravates the risk of net entanglements of these endangered dolphins. Since January 2013, four successful rescue operations have been carried out resulting in the rescue of five dolphins. WWF-Pakistan launched the first phase of the "Indus River Dolphin Conservation Project" (IRDCP) in 2004 with the goal of preserving the dolphin's genetic variability, conserving the biological diversity of the lower Indus River eco-system, ensuring sustainable use of river biological diversity and promoting actions to ease pollution and wasteful extraction of river resources, the second phase was launched in 2007. The Indus River Dolphin Conservation Project focuses on the root causes of biodiversity loss by linking the protection of the Indus River Dolphin with measures in the agricultural and fisheries sectors. Eco-tourism is also part of the project with dolphin watching tours and the new Indus Dolphin Conservation Centre in Sukkur. The project combines conservation work with the improvement of the livelihood of local communities. The Indus River dolphin is one of the world's rarest mammal and most endangered cetaceans. A 2011 dolphin population survey estimated the population to be 1,297 individuals.
Jun 20, 2013 Dams could signal death knell for Mekong giant catfish
Bangkok, Thailand – Damming the mainstream of the lower Mekong River would represent a significant new threat to the survival of the Mekong giant catfish, one of the world's largest and rarest freshwater fish, according to a new study commissioned by WWF. The study sheds new light on the status of this elusive species, including data on its numbers, distribution, threats and measures needed to prevent its disappearance. While the exact population size is unknown, there could be as few as a couple of hundred adult Mekong giant catfish fish left. According to the study, the Xayaburi dam on the Mekong mainstem in northern Laos would prove an impassable barrier for the migratory giant catfish – which are capable of reaching up to three metres in length and weighing as much as 300kg – and risks sending the species to extinction. "A fish the size of a Mekong giant catfish simply will not be able to swim across a large barrier like a dam to reach its spawning grounds upstream," said the study's author and associate research professor at the University of Nevada, Dr. Zeb Hogan. "These river titans need large, uninterrupted stretches of water to migrate, and specific water quality and flow conditions to move through their lifecycles of spawning, eating and breeding." Species in steep decline Numbers of Mekong giant catfish are already in steep decline due to overfishing, habitat destruction and dams along the Mekong's tributaries. In the Mun River, the largest tributary to the Mekong, a dam already blocks the migrations of the Mekong giant catfish and has isolated the Mun River from the remainder of the Mekong river basin. The study claims that the controversial Xayaburi dam could disrupt and even block spawning, and increase mortality if the fish pass through dam turbines. "It's likely the Mekong giant catfish use the stretch of river of the Xayaburi dam as a migration corridor, with adult fish likely passing through this area on their migration from floodplain rearing areas to upstream spawning sites," added Dr. Hogan. "It is also possible the giant catfish spawn in the area where the dam is now located." Environment and water ministers had agreed at the Mekong River Commission meeting in 2011 to delay a decision on building the Xayaburi dam pending further studies on its environmental impacts. This agreement was swept aside last November when Laos decided to forge ahead with construction. Dam fish passages unproven Criticism of the US$3.5-billion Xayaburi project has been growing with concerns centred on the serious gaps in data and failures to fully account for the impacts of the dam, particularly concerning fisheries and sediment flows. Pöyry, the Finnish firm advising Laos on the dam construction, argues that "fish passages" can be built to enable fish to get past the dam's turbines and swim up and down the river. But this claim has never been successfully put into practice. "You can't expect fish ladders to work without understanding your target species, their swimming capabilities, and the water current that will attract these fish toward the pass entrance," said Dr. Eric Baran with the World Fish Centre. "Research is still needed to ensure mitigation efforts will work." Mekong giant catfish were once widely distributed through the Mekong river basin, possibly as far as Myanmar and south-western China, and were relatively abundant up until the early 1900s. Their numbers have since plummeted and the species is now limited to the Mekong and its tributaries in Cambodia, Laos and Thailand. Catch figures also offer sobering evidence of the species decline, with numbers dropping from thousands of fish in the late 1880s, to dozens in the 1990s, and only a few in recent times. Despite laws being in place in Thailand, Laos and Cambodia to regulate fishing for Mekong giant catfish, with a ban on fishing the species in Thailand and Cambodia, the species is still fished illegally and caught accidentally in fisheries targeting other species. "Catches should be monitored to ensure that Mekong giant catfish are not being illegally targeted by fishers," added Dr. Hogan. "Incidental catch should also be monitored since it is one of the best and only sources of information about the distribution, life history and abundance of this river giant." Urgent efforts needed to save the species The study identifies key measures to prevent the river giant's disappearance, including urgent efforts to safeguarding migratory corridors and critical habitat, and increased international cooperation, such as basin-wide management planning, since the species occurs in an international river and crosses country borders to complete its life cycle. "The Mekong giant catfish symbolizes the ecological integrity of the Mekong River because the species is so vulnerable to fishing pressure and changes in the river environment. Its status is an indicator of the health of the entire river, and its recovery is an important part of the sustainable management of the Mekong basin," said Dr. Lifeng Li, Director of WWF's Global Freshwater Programme. "The Mekong giant catfish can be saved, but it will take a level of commitment from all lower Mekong countries, as well as international organizations and donors, that currently does not exist."
Jun 19, 2013 Nova nada za ekološki osetljive reke u Evropi
NVO se raduju vodećim principima za održivu hidroenergiju na rekama Dunavskog sliva, ali će pažljivo pratiti područja visoke ekološke vrednosti Na današnjem sastanku visokih predstavnika Međunarodne komisije za zaštitu reke Dunav (International Commission for the Protection of the Danube River-ICPDR) u Sarajevu, Bosna i Hercegovina, predstavnici zemalja Dunavskog basena uključujući Austriju, Bugarsku, Mađarsku, Rumuniju, Srbiju i Ukrajinu usvojili su smernice za smanjenje štetnog uticaja budućih hidroelektrana na životnu sredinu. „WWF i druge NVO morali su snažno da se bore tokom protekle dve godine kako bi ove smernice učinili prihvatljivim", izjavila je Irene Lucius, rukovodilac grupe za zakonodavstvo, iz WWF Dunavsko-karpatskog programa. "Naše reke su pretrpele zaista mnogo štete od hidroelektrana izgrađenih u ekološki osetljivim područijima i/ili zbog primene zastarelih tehnologija. Zemlje Dunavskog sliva ne mogu da priušte ponavljanje grešaka iz prošlosti – zdravi rečni ekosistemi obezbeđuju dugačak niz usluga ekosistema za ljude kao što su obezbeđivanje vode za piće i smanjenje rizika od poplava." Ono što je činjenica je da najveći izazov tek dolazi. „Vodeći principi neće imati nikakav značaj ako se ne primene brzo i sveobuhvatno kako bi se sprečila nepovratna šteta koju bi izazvala plima budućih hidroelektrana," dodala je Irene Lucius. "Posebno, očekujemo od zemalja Dunavskog sliva da u saradnji sa NVO odrede nova ekološki vredna područja koja treba izostaviti pri planiranju hidroelektrana, kao i da posebno valorizuju prirodne i kulturne vrednosti naših reka pri planiranju novih projekata. „Ne znati kako" više nije izgovor. Vlade mogu da računaju da ćemo ih pažljivo posmatrati." U dokumentu se ne preporučuje razvoj hidroenergetskog potencijala u posebno osetljivim delovima reka kao što su zaštićena područja, područja visoke ekološke vrednosti i gornji tokovi reka. Takođe, promoviše se adekvatno planiranje na nacionalnom i regionalnom nivou u svim delovima reka i razmatranje ekoloških i kulturnih vrednosti. Smernice preporučuju način na koji je neophodno da hidroelektrane smanje negativni uticaj na populacije riba i drugih slatkovodnih organizama. 14 država Dunavskog sliva koje rade zajedno u okviru Međunarodne komisije za zaštitu reke Dunav (ICPDR) su odlučile da razviju „Vodeće principe za razvoj hidroenergije". Nekoliko regionalnih NVO mreža, posebno WWF, IAD, EEA i DEF, su učestvovale u ovom procesu kao posmatrači. ICPDR stalna radna grupa se sastaje svakog juna radi donošenja važnih odluka. Odluka o „Vodećim principima" za razvoj hidroenergetskog potencijala donesena je na sastanku održanom 18. i 19. juna. Hidroelektrane negativno utiču na rečne sisteme na više načina. Njihove brane sprečavaju ribe i druge organizme da migriraju ka mestima mresta ili ishrane. One takođe menjaju prirodan oblik i tok reka, što dovodi do promena u rečnim i plavnim staništima za ptice i umanjuje svojstvo reke za samoprečišćavanje vode. Stoga je veoma važno uspostaviti područja visoke ekološke vrednosti na kojima nije moguća izgradnja novih hidroelektrana, a na područijima sa najnižom ekološkom vrednošću izgraditi nove elektrane sa minimumalnim negativnim uticajem na prirodu. Kako priroda ne poznaje granice, područja visoke i niske ekološke važnosti treba definisati na nivou sliva, kao i na nacionalnom nivou. Neophodno je da zemlje Dunavskog sliva investiraju u izgradnju kapaciteta obnovljivih izvora energije, daleko od toga da je hidroenergija jedina mogućnost, i ušteda energije i energetska efikasnost treba da budu prvi korak ka ublažavanju klimatskih promena. U Austriji, na primer, pregrađivanje preostalih reka koje imaju potencijal za hidroenergiju bi pomoglo da se zadovolji rastuća potražnja za energijom u zemlji za samo pet godina. U zemljama kao što je Rumunija, potencijal za povećanje energetske efikasnosti i, stoga, sniženje potražnje za energijom je ogroman. Ovo pokazuje da samo kombinacija mera, pre svega ušteda energije i energetska efikasnost a onda i upotreba različitih obnovljivih izvora energije, može biti dugoročno rešenje. Na nivou Evropske unije, ovi problemi se ozbiljno shvataju već godinama. Direktori sektora voda Evropske unije su tokom sastanka od 30.11. - 01.12. 2006. godine usvojili „Dokument o okvirnoj direktivi o vodama i hidromorfologiji" (Policy Paper on the Water Framework Directive and Hydromorphology) u kom predlažu područijima sa najnižom ekološkom vrednošću da se „neke od preostalih neregulisanih reka u područijima visokih ekoloških vrednosti odrede kao „no-go" područja za hidroenergetski razvoj". Ovaj pristup je potvrđen izjavom direktora sektora za vode u maju 2010. godine.
Jun 18, 2013 Europe's last wild sturgeons threatened by ongoing illegal fishing and caviar trade—WWF and TRAFFIC
Bucharest, Romania – Ongoing illegal fishing and trade in caviar in Romania and Bulgaria is threatening the survival of sturgeons in the Danube river basin, finds a new report by WWF and TRAFFIC. The report's findings are based on interviews with caviar retailers and DNA analyses of samples obtained from selected shops, restaurants, markets, street vendors and sturgeon farms in Romania and Bulgaria. Significant information was also obtained in discussions with fishermen. In both countries, a fishing ban currently is in place until 2015. However, Bulgarian fishermen told researchers they used modern equipment such as sonar and GPS, as well as the forbidden traditional hook lines – "carmaci" – to catch wild sturgeons. "Romania and Bulgaria are home to the only viable wild sturgeon populations left in the European Union, and unless this sophisticated illegal fishing is stopped, these fish are doomed," said WWF's Jutta Jahrl, author of the new report. In total, 30 caviar samples were obtained and analysed during the latest study to determine the species of origin (14 in Romania, 14 in Bulgaria and two of Bulgarian farmed caviar in Austria). Of five samples said by vendors to be from wild-caught sturgeons, four were shown to be from the highly sought-after beluga sturgeon (Huso huso). Five of the six sturgeon species native to the Danube river basin, including the beluga, are critically endangered. Illegal fishing – principally for their caviar – is the main direct threat to their survival. "The survey demonstrates that caviar allegedly from wild sturgeons is still being offered for sale in Bulgaria and Romania, despite the current ban," said Jahrl. Although trade in farmed caviar is permitted if containers are specially labeled, eight of the caviar samples bought in fish shops or from street vendors did not have the mandatory labels and codes required under CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) to indicate their legal origin. Of three samples that did possess CITES labels, DNA analysis indicated they were from species or hybrids other than those declared on the label. Furthermore, five samples were mixtures containing more than one species of sturgeon, which is not permitted under the strict CITES rules (except for so called "pressed caviar"), while a further six samples were shown not to be sturgeon caviar, despite being explicitly sold as such. "These cases demonstrate that Bulgaria and Romania need to improve significantly their implementation of European Union Wildlife Trade Regulations and CITES labelling provisions," said TRAFFIC's Katalin Kecse-Nagy. "Consumers should only buy caviar that has authentic CITES labeling, or risk being ripped-off or worse." In 2011, a TRAFFIC study compiled for WWF revealed illegal caviar from Bulgaria and Romania was regularly being seized elsewhere in the EU. "Two years ago, attention was drawn to the need for Bulgaria and Romania to implement stronger controls over the caviar trade, but progress seems to be lacking," said Kecse-Nagy. Researchers also found that vendors in both countries, especially those offering supposedly illegal caviar, only sell to people they trust. The result is a covert chain of custody from poachers to customers involving middlemen and indicating a criminal network. "The illegal caviar trade is not just a wildlife protection issue. It also involves contraband and organized crime, loss of tax revenue for the countries concerned, and there are health and veterinary issues, too," said Kecse-Nagy. "Effective enforcement is a vital prerequisite for a successful fight against poaching and illegal wildlife trade. Tight inland and border controls are crucial, especially at the external frontiers of the EU, such as Moldova, Ukraine and Turkey, together with good national and cross border cooperation." The report also recommends the use of modern technology, such as DNA analysis, to help monitor the caviar trade and for strict control measures to regulate online caviar sales and sturgeon aquaculture operations. The report, Illegal caviar trade in Bulgaria and Romania, was funded by The Mohamed bin Zayed Species Conservation Fund and WWF.
May 16, 2013 WWF tool measures cumulative impact of hydropower, mining projects in Amazon
Brasilia — WWF is calling for a widely shared, common vision for Amazonian river basins that are the site of large-scale mining and hydropower projects. "There should be a qualified debate in the national sphere regarding what kind of Amazon we wish to preserve in the future. That means defining which rivers are to be preserved before the accumulated effects of the innumerable hydroelectric and mining projects – which so far have always been analysed individually – create environmental impacts that could be really disastrous," said Pedro Bara, leader of WWF's Living Amazon Initiative infrastructure strategy. Bara presented WWF's ecological vision for the Tapajos river basin at an event in Foz de Iguaçu organised by Sustainable Planet and Editora Abril publishers on the theme of Business, Energy and Environment. The vision is based on an analytical tool known as the Hydrological Information System and Amazon River Assessment (HIS-ARA). The tool integrates hydrological and ecological information to support development of regional ecosystem conservation strategies. Bara said the overall objective is to mitigate conflicts and boost opportunities generated by projects that are decided on in a participatory and transparent manner, and are capable of contributing to a sustainable and prosperous future for the Tapajos basin. Cumulative Impacts HIS-ARA makes it feasible to identify critical areas for biodiversity and for the maintenance of connectivity among the rivers to ensure the integrity of the hydrological networks and the aquatic ecosystems. The same tool takes into consideration the functioning of the ecological systems and all the social and cultural territories in the entire river basin area. In the specific case of the Tapajos River basin, which occupies 6 per cent of Brazilian territory and is highly relevant in scenic, cultural, ecological and hydropower terms, 42 hydroelectric plants of varying dimensions are planned. The so-called Tapajos Complex alone will consist of seven plants, two of which, the Sao Luiz and Jatoba dams, will be mega-installations. The damming of two more free-flowing rivers in the Amazon, the Tapajos River and the Jamanxim River, will flood an estimated 2,500 km2 of land and fragment ecologically, culturally and socially important ecosystems. Among the major social impacts, it will affect the Munduruku indigenous lands, home to more than 10,000 people. "The application of science in the form of tools like HIS-ARA can support decision making and streamline the crucial dialogues associated with large-scale infrastructure projects," said WWF-Brazil CEO Maria Cecilia Wey de Brito. For further information: Denise Oliveira, Head of Communications, Living Amazon Initiative doliveira@wwf.org.br / +55 61 3364.7497 or +55 61 8175.2695 Pedro Bara, Infrastructure Strategy leader, Living Amazon Initiative pedrobara@wwf.org.br / +55 11 3074-4765 About Living Amazon Initiative The Living Amazon Initiative spearheads WWF's efforts to guarantee an ecologically healthy Amazon Biome that maintains its environmental and cultural contribution to local peoples, the countries of the region and the world, by maintaining ecological processes and services within a framework of that propitiates inclusive economic development with social equity and global responsibility. About WWF WWF is one of the world's largest and most respected independent conservation organizations, with over 5 million supporters and a global network active in over 100 countries. WWF's mission is to stop the degradation of the Earth's natural environment and to build a future in which humans live in harmony with nature, by conserving the world's biological diversity, ensuring that the use of renewable natural resources is sustainable, and promoting the reduction of pollution and wasteful consumption.
May 02, 2013 New forest loss figures highlight need for green growth in the Greater Mekong
Bangkok, Thailand: The Greater Mekong subregion in Southeast Asia risks losing more than a third of its remaining forest cover within the next two decades if regional governments fail to boost protection, value and restore natural capital, and embrace green growth, warns a new WWF report. WWF's analysis reveals the Greater Mekong has retained about 98 million hectares of natural forest, just over half of the region's land area, but further rapid loss is expected if current deforestation rates persist. Between 1973 and 2009, the five countries of the Greater Mekong lost just under one-third of their remaining forest cover. During this period, Cambodia lost 22 per cent of its 1973 forest cover, Laos and Myanmar lost 24 per cent, and Thailand and Vietnam lost 43 per cent. Large connected areas of core forest also declined significantly across the region, from over 70 per cent in 1973 to about 20 per cent in 2009. Core forest is defined as an area of at least 3.2km2 of uninterrupted forest. If current trends continue, WWF predicts that by 2030 only 14 per cent of the Greater Mekong's remaining forest will consist of contiguous habitat capable of sustaining viable populations of many wildlife species. "The Greater Mekong is at a crossroads," said Peter Cutter, Landscape Conservation Manager with WWF-Greater Mekong. "One path leads to further declines in biodiversity and livelihoods, but if natural resources are managed responsibly, this region can pursue a course that will secure a healthy and prosperous future for its people." The report, " Ecosystems in the Greater Mekong: past trends, current status, possible futures ," provides new analysis on the current status and potential future of the region's principal forest and freshwater ecosystems, and some of the most endangered species these ecosystems support. The report offers two scenarios for the region's ecosystems, one predicts what will likely happen by 2030 under an unsustainable growth model in which the deforestation and degradation observed over the past decade persists, while the other scenario assumes a 50 per cent cut in the annual deforestation rate and offers a future based on green growth. Under the green economy scenario, core forest areas extant in 2009 across the five Greater Mekong countries would remain intact. "The green economy approach is the choice for a viable future in the Greater Mekong," added Cutter. "Regional leaders have already affirmed that healthy economic growth goes hand in hand with healthy and productive ecosystems, but fast and effective responses are needed now to avoid permanent environmental degradation." The report highlights the Xayaburi dam development as a key threat to the health and productivity of the Mekong river and delta. The Mekong basin hosts 13 unique, yet connected, freshwater ecosystems, but the controversial Xayaburi project will sever the mainstem of the lower Mekong river, blocking migratory fish and sediment flow with devastating consequences for livelihoods and food security for 60 million people. The report also maps the enormous decline in the range of several important and iconic species of the region, including the tiger, Asian elephant, Irrawaddy dolphin and the endemic saola. The survival of many species in the Greater Mekong depend on the existence of effectively managed protected area systems, and while protected areas have expanded dramatically since 1970, many are not well managed. "Many protected areas exist in name only," added Cutter. "Even relatively secure protected areas are under intense pressure from poaching and timber theft, while others have been reduced in size by government's eager to cash in on land concessions to mining companies or plantation owners." Despite documenting the degradation of ecosystems over the past 50 years, the report also emphasizes the region is still rich in natural resources and the value of its ecosystem services, including food, water and fibre, is among the highest in the world. The Greater Mekong's vast natural wealth provides a significant opportunity for sustainable development, and WWF believes building greener economies is well within reach. "Given that the majority of the region's biological heritage and supporting ecosystems occur in landscapes that cross borders, regional collaboration is critical," concluded Cutter. "Increased and more sustainable investment in maintaining ecosystem integrity must also be a priority at landscape, national, and regional scales."
Apr 16, 2013 Protection of bird colonies takes flight with creation of three Ramsar wetlands
Ruse, Bulgaria – The environmental ministers of Bulgaria and Romania officially signed a proposal to create three new transboundary wetland complexes along the Danube River prepared by WWF late last year. The new sites will later be considered and approved by the Secretariat of the Ramsar Convention on the Conservation of Wetlands. "The new transboundary wetland complexes – Srebarna-Lake Calarasi, Belene Islands Complex-Suhaia and Ibisha Island-Bistret – will allow for the full protection of the bird colonies that nest and feed in Bulgaria and Romania. The two countries will be able to take coordinated, cooperative measures to better protect wetlands and migratory species, which feed, winter, nest and breed on both sides of the river," said Laurice Ereifej, head of WWF Central and Eastern Europe Freshwater Programme. Monitoring done by WWF in the last three years shows that heron colonies that nest on the Bulgarian island of Ibisha feed in the Romanian lake of Bistret. The same goes for pygmy cormorants and pelicans nesting in the Srebarna Lake in Bulgaria that feed in the Romanian lake of Calarasi. "The two countries can work on a joint strategy for wetland management that will allow for the full protection of the bird species. Bulgaria and Romania can take coordinated measures by executing common bans on logging and hunting in the region and by not allowing access to the bird colonies during breeding," said Ivan Hristov, head of Freshwater for WWF-Bulgaria. At the end of 2012, WWF launched a study of Bistret, Suhaia, Calarasi, Srebarna, Ibisha and Belene Islands Complex as part of the Green Borders LIFE+ EU-funded project to propose transboundary conservation measures for bird species and to designate cross-border nature reserves along the Lower Danube. Wetlands include rivers, lakes, ponds and floodplain forests, among others. They are among the most valuable ecosystems as they preserve a huge amount of biodiversity and ensure ecosystem services for humans. Wetlands play a key role in the water cycle, restore water supplies, can reduce floods, provide habitat for fish and purify surface or groundwater. In the last century, the majority of wetlands in Bulgaria and Romania have been destroyed. Their protection is a priority for WWF. The Convention on the Conservation of Wetlands was signed on 2 February 1971 in the Iranian city of Ramsar. It is the first international agreement for the protection and sustainable use of natural resources. The mission of the Ramsar Convention is the conservation and wise use of all wetlands through local, regional and national actions and international cooperation, as a contribution to sustainable development.