WWF has focused its energy and resources on ten key Conservation Highlights, which leverage the power of the WWF network and capitalise on our strengths here at home.
By concentrating on the Great Barrier Reef, Antarctica, Coral Triangle & Southwest Pacific, Heart of Borneo, the Kimberley, Southwest Australia, Earth Hour, Climate Change, Market Transformation, and Places You Love, we aim to achieve major outcomes over several years with a wide range of partners working towards achieving shared goals.
© Viewfinder Australia Photo Library
Image: © Keith Lightbody
Video: © WWF- Aus / Bluebottle films
Southwest Australia is Australia’s only global biodiversity hotspot, that is rich in species found nowhere else on Earth. Millions of years of isolation by Australia’s vast central deserts endowed the region
with many unique plants. Extreme climate shifts and poor soils forced plants to adapt, resulting in more than
5,500 species of vascular plants (including flowering plants, conifers and ferns), with more than half of these endemic to the hotspot. A high number of mammal and bird species are also unique to the region.
Southwest Australia is threatened by landclearing, habitat loss, fire and fragmentation of flora. In addition, foxes and feral cats have caused major declines in animal species like the numbat.
Led by WWF, the Southwest Australia Ecoregion Initiative brought together local state and federal agencies, natural resource management groups, scientists, community and conservation partners. The Initiative completed a Strategic Framework for Biodiversity Conservation in 2012, and provides a vital tool for protecting this precious place.
The greatest human impact in Southwest Australia has been the clearing of native vegetation for agriculture, which began in 1829 and continues today as clearing for urbanisation. The impact of this has meant we have lost almost all eucalypt woodlands and more than half of all mallee and kwongan heath ecosystems. Through the Healthy Bushland Project, WWF has partnered with more than 100 farmers across the Wheatbelt region of WA to protect over 20,000 hectares of the biggest and best remaining woodland ecosystems.
Prior to handing over this successful program to Wheatbelt Natural Resource Management, we secured a conservation covenant in the north east Wheatbelt for over 1,000 hectares of woodland ecosystem. This is the largest WWF covenant to date in Southwest Australia.
© Mick Davis / WWF-Aus
Over the past four years, we’ve advocated for stronger action to protect the black-flanked rock-wallaby in the Wheatbelt. Targeted efforts by the
West Australian Department of Parks & Wildlife, helped by WWF supporters, have seen the Wheatbelt population of these rock-wallabies recover from
133 animals in 2011 to 184 in 2014.
One of the flagship projects between WWF and the West Australian Department of Parks & Wildlife is at Nangeen Hill Nature reserve, where the population had crashed to 5 rock-wallabies. The 175-hectare reserve was protected by a five-kilometre predator-proof fence, and there have been no signs of feral cats or foxes within the fenced area since October 2013. Volunteers continue to work hard to strengthen the Nangeen Hill ecosystem through revegetation and weed treatment. Ongoing monitoring indicates the rock-wallabies are breeding, and along with 17 translocated rock-wallabies, in the past two years the population has almost doubled to 39 animals.
© Hayden Cannon / DPAW / WWF-Aus
WWF has been supporting the Kaarakin Black Cockatoo Conservation Centre’s Mobile Cocky Rescue Service since December 2013. The rescue service has responded to and treated over 100 birds since June 2014, and is rehabilitating 25 birds back to the wild.
Image: © Michael Mulrine / WWF-Aus
Video: © WWF-Aus
WWF launched Earth Hour in Sydney in 2007, with 2.2 million people participating. One year later, Earth Hour became a global phenomenon. By 2015, Earth Hour was celebrated in over 170 countries, with more than 10,400 iconic landmarks switching off. The initiative has become the world’s largest grassroots movement for the environment.
In Australia, we have used Earth Hour to engage people on the impacts of climate change in new ways. Earth Hour 2014 focused on the Great Barrier Reef, culminating in the first ever Earth Hour documentary being aired on Network Ten and at hundreds of events around Australia. Earth Hour 2015 engaged thousands of Australians in a new conversation about the effects of climate change on food and farming. Next year will mark a key milestone with the 10th Earth Hour. Since it launched, the initiative has inspired many people across Australia and around the world to take action against climate change.
Our vision for Earth Hour is to build a community of people who take action on climate change year-round. In 2014 we launched Camp Earth Hour – a three-day training workshop for people wanting to help their local community, organisation or company tackle climate change. The workshop was a great success and Camp Earth Hour has become an ongoing initiative.
The participants from the 2014 camp are now running their own events in their local communities. As a result, we are seeing people come together in creative ways to promote climate change action. From firefighters to religious groups to sports leaders, these new networks of Earth Hour champions are helping to make an impact.
© Murray Fraser / sproutdaily.com / WWF-Aus
© WWF-Aus / Kate Raston
This year we invited Australians to join Earth Hour as we threw our support behind Aussie food and farmers. Global warming is challenging our farmers and affecting our supply of good-quality fresh food. To tell this important story, we ran campaigns around Australia that incorporated a number of events and publications, and brought together scientists, farmers and celebrity chefs.
In partnership with Melbourne University, we produced a report titled Appetite for Change: Global Warming Impacts on Food and Farming Regions in Australia, which received significant media coverage. The first-of-its-kind report highlighted the climate impacts on foods that Australians enjoy every day and the regions that grow them.
We also created a cookbook, Planet to Plate, which features more than 50 recipes from Australia’s biggest culinary names, as well as stories from 55 farmers who grow the food that sustains our nation.
During Earth Hour week, we took a group of nine farmers to Parliament House in Canberra to meet politicians, tell their stories of dealing with climate change and call for stronger leadership.
Our Save the Ales campaign – in partnership with Sydney craft breweries Young Henrys and Willie the Boatman – aimed to engage beer drinkers by showing how rising temperatures and extreme weather are affecting hops and barley production. We created ‘Drought Draught’, brewed under drought-affected conditions, which allowed people to literally taste the effects of climate change.
Hundreds of schools and local councils around Australia also held their own events during Earth Hour week, all centred on the food and farming theme.
The Power of One Hour
On the evening of Earth Hour (28 March), thousands of Australians switched off their lights from 8.30 to 9.30pm. Our Appetite for Change documentary was screened on Network Ten. Hosted by former Northern Territory farmer and MasterChef runner up Lynton Tapp, the documentary features farmers sharing their stories of how climate change is affecting food production. Across the country, thousands of people hosted Earth Hour dinners as did many high-profile restaurants.
WWF works to address climate change as it is the greatest overall threat to our environment. Unique ecosystems such as the Great Barrier Reef, and treasured species like the mountain pygmy possum, marine turtles and polar bears, are at serious risk. It is vital that the right policies – in Australia and globally – are in place within the next five years, or we could face a devastating temperature increases of 3–4 degrees.
The solution we need is to limit global warming to well below 2 degrees above pre-industrial levels, and in the long run, to1.5 degrees. If we take strong action to cut carbon pollution we can build a more sustainable future for us and our planet. This is the critical decade on climate change
The last four years have been turbulent for climate change policy: significant changes to Australian Government policies and positions resulted in good progress in 2011 and 2012, but Australia took a step backwards in 2013 and 2014 with the repeal of the carbon tax and cuts to the 2020 Renewable Energy Target. Meanwhile, we experienced record-breaking temperatures and extreme weather events across the country.
Momentum for stronger action is rebuilding. In 2014–15, WWF worked with partners and the community to ramp up support for increased efforts to mitigate climate change. In 2014, in the lead-up to the G20 summit hosted in Brisbane, we designed, funded and coordinated the #onmyagenda digital and advertising campaign. Bringing together eight other national and international organisations, the campaign aimed to demonstrate community support for stronger action on climate change in Australia and for putting climate change on the G20 agenda. The campaign received global media attention and the G20 was dubbed as the ‘default climate change conference’ and inspired millions of conversations during the two weeks leading up to and into the G20 summit.
© Matthew Pauza
In 2015, WWF helped bring together an alliance of major Australian organisations
and business groups to form the Australian Climate Roundtable. Participants include the Australian Council of Trade Unions, Australian Council of Social Services, The Climate Institute, the Australian Conservation Foundation, the Business Council of Australia, Australian Industry Group, the Australian Aluminium Council, Investor Group on Climate Change and the Electricity
Supply Association of Australia.
The Australian Climate Roundtable members all agree that temperature increases of 3-4 degrees would have devastating economic, environmental and social impacts on Australia, the Roundtable released a set of common principles to support the target of limiting warming to below 2 degrees.
The Australian Climate Roundtable will continue to work together, and with government and the community, to ensure climate policy meets Australia’s economic, environmental and social needs, now and into the future.
Image: © Paul Hilton / IPNLF / WWF-Aus
Video: © WWF-Aus
Conserving nature means embracing a new economy – one that benefits more people while causing less environmental harm. The decisions that businesses make every day – about how to produce and deliver goods and services, and how and what inputs they use – have major impacts on the health of the planet. That’s why WWF works with market regulators, business and industry to improve production practices and promote the highest sustainability standards for commodities with the biggest environmental footprints: beef, palm oil, sugarcane, seafood, metals and forest products (including paper).
WWF understands that business can be a powerful force for change, which is why we seek to work with partners who share our vision of a sustainable economy, and can help transform markets to deliver conservation impact at scale.
A growing number of companies – around the world and in Australia – have adapted their business models to reduce impacts on nature – from using voluntary sustainability standards like FSC and MSC, to redefining business targets and assessing their performance using independent verification. These changes have resulted in measurable improvements covering 15% or more of total output for many of the high-impact commodities targeted by WWF. Benefits to business are also significant and can include a more sustainable – and therefore more secure – supply chain, as well as operational efficiencies and lower risk.
WWF’s work on sustainability standards, and with a range of business partners, contributes to all our priority programs, through the commitments that companies make and through their investments into conservation.
WWF works with industry, government and other organisations to make sure
our seafood comes from responsible fisheries and aquaculture operations.
In Australia, WWF has partnered with several major seafood market players, including Coles Supermarkets, Simplot Australia (which manufactures products under the John West, Birds Eye and I&J seafood brands), Blackmores (which sells fish and krill oil supplements), and Tassal, Australia’s largest producer of farmed Salmon. By working with these leading companies, we have helped transform the Australian seafood market over the past four years.
An important part of our work with retailers, brands and manufacturers is to ensure better traceability and more responsible sourcing of seafood. To support this work, we have developed new tools such as the Ecological Sustainability Evaluation of Seafood (ESES) method, a rapid assessment tool that has been applied to more than 400 seafood products. Another important part of our work with seafood businesses is to encourage them to adopt credible certification standards such as the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) tick of sustainability for wild-capture fisheries and the Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) certification for farmed seafood products.
Thanks to the generous support of the David and Lucille Packard Foundation, WWF works to promote independent certification of Australian fisheries and provides support to WWF-New Zealand and WWF-Fiji’s seafood markets work.
There has been considerable momentum in the uptake and adoption of MSC in Australia in the last four years, including in 2012, with the government of Western Australia committing $14.5 million for all 47 of the state’s fisheries to be assessed against the MSC standard. To date, 10 Australian fisheries have achieved MSC certification, including the WA Rock Lobster, the first MSC-certified fishery in the world, and more recently the first prawn fishery (Spencer Gulf) and the first tropical prawn fishery (Northern Prawn Fishery). In the region, we worked with the first industrial-scale tuna fishery – PNA Western & Central Pacific skipjack tuna fishery – to achieve MSC certification for its purse seine (net) fishing operations, all of which means that consumers and retailers now have a far greater choice of MSC and ASC products for their supply chains, including MSC-certified canned tuna.
© Nicky Robinson / WWF-Aus
WWF partners with some of Australia’s biggest manufacturers and retailers of forest products – Bunnings, Kimberly-Clark and Officeworks – to demonstrate leadership in responsible sourcing through participation in the Global Forest & Trade Network (GFTN). The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) logo, displayed on paper and timber products, tells consumers that the product comes from sustainably managed sources. It also sends a message to manufacturers that there is demand for environmentally responsible products.
In 2011, few Australian consumers and businesses recognised the FSC logo. To promote awareness and increase demand for FSC-certified products, WWF joined forces with Kimberly-Clark Australia and FSC Australia. The Love Your Forests campaign used WWF’s well-known and trusted panda logo alongside the FSC logo, with a simple message: ‘buy FSC’. Popular Kimberly-Clark products carried the messaging, and these brands supported the campaign with their own marketing initiatives. Since the campaign launched in 2011, awareness has increased and 20% of Australian consumers now recognise the FSC logo. This indicates that Australians increasingly understand the importance of choosing products that support responsible forestry.
In addition to working with Australian companies and in Borneo , we supported efforts to halt the trade in illegally produced timber, pulp and paper. Along with other conservation groups we welcomed the Australian Illegal Logging Prohibition Regulation which came into force in December 2014, and we are supporting the development of a new National Standard under the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC).
© Tim Cronin / CIFOR
Australians are increasingly, and rightly, concerned about the impacts of palm oil on tropical rainforests. Many people are not aware, however, that palm oil can be produced responsibly, based on the principles and criteria of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO). In recent years, WWF has worked hard to persuade more Australian companies to join the RSPO and to use only Certified Sustainable Palm Oil (CSPO) in their products. As a result, the number of Australian-based companies that have joined the RSPO increased from 10 in June 2011 to more than 80 today. All major brands in Australia using palm oil, palm kernel oil or its derivatives have committed to using 100% CSPO by the end of 2015.
© Suzanne Blake / Accolade Wines Australia Limited / WWF-Aus
Banrock Station – a brand owned by global company Accolade Wines – has shown how companies can support innovative research and achieve real impact. Banrock Station’s Environment Trust has contributed about $750,000 over four years to a WWF program that seeks to identify and measure water pollution affecting turtles on the Great Barrier Reef. The Reef is home to six of the world’s seven remaining species of marine turtle. These turtle populations are threatened by massive quantities of soil and chemicals washing onto the Reef from farms, and industrial and urban areas. This damages vast areas of seagrass and coral, which are important habitats for marine turtles. Conservation investment such as this highlights the potential impact the companies can make.
Beef production has significant impacts on land cover and biodiversity, and affects water quality and climate change. WWF works with industry, government and companies around the world to develop and promote best practice standards for sustainable beef production.
In 2012, the Queensland Government committed $6.7 million for industry to develop and promote a Grazing Best Management Practice (BMP). The BMP guides graziers towards profitable grazing practices that also improve water quality. By the end of 2014, more than 850 producers had started benchmarking their practices using the Grazing BMP, accounting for 19% and 15% (respectively) of properties in the Burdekin and Fitzroy Reef catchments.
WWF also actively supports the Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef (GRSB). Launched in 2012, the GRSB has developed Global Principles and Criteria for sustainable beef and signed up 74 member organisations, including 19 from Australia.
© Ian McConnel
© Reef Catchments / Prose PR
Sugarcane is Queensland’s largest agricultural crop and a major export earner.It is also one of the biggest sources of nitrogen and other waterborne pollutants affecting the Great Barrier Reef. WWF works with industry, government and sugar buyers to find cost-effective ways to reduce water pollution while also improving farm productivity. One of the most effective ways to do this is through voluntary initiatives that create a market preference for certified sustainable sugar, such as the global Bonsucro standard. In 2015, Bundaberg Sugar became the second Bonsucro-certified Australian sugar mill, joining NSW Sugar Milling Cooperative, which was certified in 2012. Bonsucro is rapidly becoming the global standard of choice for sustainable sugar, with pledges from leading companies such as Coca-Cola, Unilever and Ferrero. Bonsucro-certified sugar is also available in Australia with, for example, most of Coles own-brand sugar now Bonsucro certified and carrying the Bonsucro logo.
WWF works with the finance sector to direct lending and investing towards more responsible production and consumption. From 2011 to 2014, we worked with ANZ – one of Australia’s biggest banks – to strengthen the bank’s sector policies and train its staff to integrate sustainability into lending decisions. Over three years, we trained more than 740 bankers in WWF’s sustainability leadership program across Australia, New Zealand, Indonesia, Singapore and Hong Kong.
© Romy Photography
© Michael Buckley / WWF-Canada
Australia is one of the world’s biggest exporters of iron ore and coal for steel production. To develop a credible voluntary standard for environmentally responsible steel, WWF is working with the Steel Stewardship Forum (SSF). In 2015, the world’s largest steel maker, ArcelorMittal, joined the SSF. Locally, this new ‘Responsible Steel’ standard is recognised by both the Green Building Council of Australia and the Infrastructure Sustainability Council of Australia.
Image: © Julie Chaise Borrini
Video: © WWF- Aus / Bluebottle films
Australians love their beaches, billabongs, forests and bushlands – and these are the places that provide safe havens for our unique and well-known wildlife. To safeguard these precious places, Australia needs effective environmental protection laws and policies.
WWF is working with the Places You Love Alliance – a collection of more than 40 environmental organisations – to ensure relevant laws and policies remain in place, and to reform existing ineffective laws. Preserving and reforming legislation is a critical component of the Alliance’s long-term vision to build a powerful movement, with people working collaboratively across Australia to stand up for nature.
In late 2012, the Australian Government cut national funding for strategic growth of protected areas. WWF continues to lead a Friends of the National Reserve System (NRS) alliance, campaigning to restore this critical funding. We are also advocating for matching state funding in the high-priority states of Queensland, NSW and Western Australia. In November 2014 at the World Parks Congress, we launched the 2014 Building Nature’s Safety Net report – an important milestone for the campaign.
© Molly Grace Photography
Nearly a decade ago, following a major campaign by WWF and partners, Queensland banned broadscale clearing of bushland. At that time, an area roughly twice the size of the ACT was being cleared every year. The 2006 decision brought clearing rates down to low levels. In 2013 this ban was reversed. Forests 20 years or older were opened up for clearing, despite containing endangered ecosystems and species. Huge areas have been approved for destruction, much of it in Great Barrier Reef catchments, undermining Australia’s commitments to UNESCO to prevent the Reef becoming endangered. WWF is once again working to restore landclearing controls.
© Martin Harvey / WWF
© Cameron Wheatley
In mid-2014, the NSW Government commissioned an independent panel to review the Native Vegetation Act and related legislation. The government agreed to implement all of the panel’s 43 recommendations, which included repealing existing conservation laws and replacing them with a new Biodiversity Conservation Act (draft legislation is expected in November 2015). WWF is working with key NSW environmental groups to advocate for strong legislation
that enhances biodiversity and prevents a return to broadscale landclearing.
In April 2015, we released a report, Native wildlife at risk if NSW Native Vegetation Act is repealed, which found that since the Native Vegetation Act was introduced, it has been highly effective and saved an average of 116,000 native mammals each year. The recently re-elected NSW Government has committed to ensuring that the new nature laws “enhance the state’s biodiversity for the benefit of current and future generations”.
In the past two years, there has been a concerted move to hand federal approval powers to the states for projects of national environmental significance. To prevent this from happening, we are working in partnership with the Places You Love Alliance to raise awareness, run educational initiatives, and urge federal political parties to reject the delegation of approval powers.
© Luke Foley