The Annual Report 2015

Chapter 1

Conservation Highlights

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: © Troy Mayne
Video: © Ocean Ark Alliance

Conservation Highlights

Great Barrier reef

The Great Barrier Reef is the world’s largest and best-known coral reef system. Visible from space, this spectacular ecosystem is home to more than 600 coral species, 1,500 types of fish, 900 islands and 2,900 reefs. It is one of the last remaining refuges for dugongs and has the largest remaining rookeries for green turtles in the world.

But we risk losing this natural wonder on our watch. In the past 30 years, the Great Barrier Reef has lost half its coral cover, with over 40% of this loss due to population explosions of coral eating crown-of-thorns starfish, which thrive on agricultural run-off. Other Reef creatures are threatened by climate change, over fishing, pollution from nearby farms, and coastal and industrial development. These impacts are felt most acutely along the coast and in the central and southern areas of the Reef, while the remote north remains in relatively good condition.

Over the past four years, thanks to our partners and supporters, WWF has led a number of significant initiatives to deliver impact at scale and protect the Reef for future generations.

Fight for the Reef

In 2013, we launched our Fight for the Reef campaign, in partnership with the Australian Marine Conservation Society (AMCS) and with support from The Thomas Foundation. The campaign was in response to proposals to develop mega-ports along the Great Barrier Reef coast, including plans to dump millions of tonnes of dredge spoil in the Reef’s waters.

In 2015, the campaign completed its most successful year yet. Major highlights included a significantly strengthened Reef 2050 Long-Term Sustainability Plan, endorsed by the state and federal governments, and a decision by the World Heritage Committee that keeps Australia ‘on probation’ until the health of the Reef improves.

Fight For The reef

The Australian Government has now banned dumping of capital dredge spoil from new port developments in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, and the Queensland Government has introduced legislation that will extend the ban to state waters. The new state laws will also limit dredging for port development to the four existing major ports. This provides greater protection for undeveloped stretches of coastline, including the Fitzroy Delta, which was previously earmarked for two coal terminals. With support from AMCS, WWF International and network offices around the world, the campaign created a groundswell of public pressure in the lead-up to the June 2015 World Heritage Committee meeting in Germany. Through an engaging and powerful online presence, our campaign’s messages reached millions of people worldwide.

© WWF / James Morgan

Through an engaging and powerful online presence, our campaign’s messages reached millions of people worldwide.

© WWF / James Morgan

Fight For The reef

As a result, our petition to the World Heritage Committee was signed by 563,480 people throughout 177 countries. Alongside this public campaign, we provided World Heritage delegates with expert assessments and scientific critiques of Australia’s management of the Reef World Heritage Area.

As well as agreeing to the new Reef 2050 Long-Term Sustainability Plan, the Australian and Queensland governments each pledged $100 million to support its implementation. Our Fight for the Reef campaign ensured the final Plan was much stronger than earlier drafts, and was welcomed by the World Heritage Committee.

  • 20-30%
  • reduction
  • estimated in net fishing each year

more Sustainable Fishing

Working with governments and industry, we have successfully secured a number of reforms in the net fishery. Most recently, our work resulted in the establishment of three net-free zones in the Reef. The 1,400 square-kilometre Keppel Bay to Fitzroy River net-free zone will help protect the region’s snubfin dolphins. The associated $10 million licence surrender program, due for completion at the end of 2015, is predicted to reduce net fishing by 20–30% each year. This is in addition to the results of the 2012–14 net buyback scheme – implemented following significant WWF engagement – which removed approximately 30% of the excess large net fishing entitlement on the east coast.

You did it!

Reef Water Quality

In March 2015, as a result of long-term advocacy by WWF and our supporters, the Queensland and Australian governments committed to the new pollution targets needed to restore the Reef’s health. These include cutting nitrogen pollution by up to 80% in high-risk catchments by 2025. Both governments also committed an additional $100 million each for water-quality programs over five years, adding to the $375 million already secured.

The Queensland Government has established a Reef Taskforce to oversee the investment and programs needed to achieve these new targets. WWF secured commitments from the Queensland Government to re-establish laws critical to protecting vegetation, wetlands, coastal areas and water.

Beyond advocacy, we also work to deliver on-ground solutions. Since 2009, in collaboration with the Coca-Cola Foundation, Reef Catchments, other companies and other natural resource management groups, we have partnered with cane farmers to trial innovative farming practices that improve water quality and farm efficiency. There are now 78 farmers participating, covering an area of 20,345 hectares. The trials have shown fertiliser can be greatly reduced from 2.0 to 1.4 kilograms of nitrogen per tonne of cane, without compromising productivity. If all cane farmers adopted similar practices, Queensland would take a significant step towards its 80% nitrogen pollution reduction target.

Over the past five years, government programs and funding to help farmers implement profitable pollution-cutting practices have led to an estimated 30% reduction in pesticides and 12% sediment reduction. However, cuts to nitrogen pollution of 17% are well short of the new 80% target. Reducing nitrogen pollution is crucial in controlling the crown-of-thorns starfish that are devastating the Reef.

© WWF / James Morgan

© Troy Mayne

working together to protect an ancient species

The Rivers to Reef to Turtles project is a groundbreaking partnership studying the link between water quality and turtle health in the Great Barrier Reef. Supported by Banrock Environment Trust, the partnership brings together researchers, government representatives, and Indigenous and local communities.

WWF is deeply committed to our work with Traditional Owners, the custodians of turtles and sea country. In 2014, we finalised three Memoranda of Understanding with Reef Indigenous communities: Gudjuda Reference Group, Girringun Aboriginal Corporation and Gidarjil Aboriginal Corporation. Each partner group has committed to work collaboratively in building the capacity of Traditional Owners to conserve and protect their Country.

Through WWF sponsorship, the Gudjuda people are now well equipped with boats, turtle tagging bags and over 100 survey days in mentored training, to collect data on gungu (turtles). The Sea Turtle Foundation and Cairns Turtle Rehabilitation Centre (CTRC) have trained more than 150 volunteers to respond to animal strandings, and released a Marine Animal Stranding Quick Guide toolkit, produced in collaboration with WWF.

Our partnerships with Reef HQ Turtle Hospital, CTRC and James Cook University’s Centre for Marine Turtle Health continue to support efforts in caring for injured turtles and releasing them back into the wild. During the 2013–14 nesting season, the Loggerhead Watch project trialled aluminium predator-exclusion devices over nests to protect endangered loggerhead turtles from goannas on Wreck Rock Beach. These devices meant an additional 3,387 hatchlings made it out of their nests in 2014.

Turtles Go!

New conservation project reveals amazing turtle's eye-view of the Great Barrier Reef

Image: © Doug Gimesy
Video: © Heather Kiley

Conservation Highlights

Antarctica & Southern Ocean

The oceans around Antarctica are some of the most pristine in the world, and are home to nearly 10,000 species, including emperor penguins and great whales. This stunning region is crucial to our understanding of how the world works, but parts of the Antarctic are among the fastest warming places on the planet. Its habitats and biodiversity are under increasing pressure from climate change and activities such as fishing and tourism.

WWF has a long history of achieving conservation results through the WWF Antarctic and Southern Ocean Initiative. We work with governments, industry, scientists and partners to achieve greater impact.

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Marine Protection

East Antarctica
In 2009, the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) committed to establishing the world’s largest system of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs). Over many years, WWF has supported the development of the MPAs through research identifying the key areas needing protection. We are working closely with the Australian Government to promote the designation of a system of MPAs off the Australian Antarctic Territory.

  • 6.2 million
  • hectares added to
  • marine reserve

© WWF / Francisco Viddi

Heard Island and McDonald Islands

Located more than 4,000 kilometres southwest of Perth, in the Southern Ocean, Heard Island and McDonald Islands are Australia’s most remote territory. They are home to Australia’s largest mountain and only active volcano, as well as vast numbers of penguins, albatrosses and seals. We were instrumental in establishing one of the world’s largest MPAs here in 2002, and in 2014 a further 6.2 million hectares was added to the marine reserve.

© Doug Gimesy

  • Antarctic krill soak up enough carbon to offset the emissions from
  • 17.7
  • million cars

© naturepl.com / Visuals Unlimited / WWF

Fisheries Management

Antarctic krill only grow to about 6 centimetres long (the size of your little finger), yet they play a key role in the Antarctic ecosystem. Krill is a critical food source for many Southern Ocean species, including whales, seals, fish and penguins. While scientists estimate the weight of Antarctic krill to be greater than the weight of all humans on Earth, krill face challenges from a changing climate and increased fishing. WWF works through CCAMLR to ensure precautionary and sustainable approaches to krill fishing in the Southern Ocean.

WWF is working with the toothfish industry and the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) to ensure the fishery is sustainable, and that fish can be traced from the ship to the supermarket. 70% of the toothfish trade is now MSC-certified.

Wildlife conservation

Macquarie Island

World Heritage-listed Macquarie Island lies 1,500 kilometres southeast of Tasmania in the Southern Ocean. The rabbit population exploded in the 1980s from about 10,000 to 100,000, leading to massive erosion and landslips that were destroying nesting sites for penguins and albatrosses. Advocacy by WWF and supported by Peregrine Adventures prompted the Australian and Tasmanian governments to develop and deliver an eight-year campaign to eradicate pests. In April 2014 Macquarie Island was declared pest-free.

© Doug Gimesy

Image: © Arlene Bax / Simplot Australia / WWF-Aus
Video: © Ocean Ark Alliance

Conservation Highlights

Coral Triangle & Southwest Pacific

oceans around Indonesia, Philippines, Malaysia, Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea and Timor Leste - and the South West Pacific region contains the highest diversity of marine life on the planet. This wonderland is also home to one of the world’s largest tuna industries. Estimated at $1 billion annually, it directly employs more than six million people. Fishing and related industries provide a vital source of income for many of the region’s poorest communities. Although commercial tuna fisheries contribute greatly to revenue and national economic development, coastal fisheries are also essential for ensuring national food security and rural incomes.

This region is under threat from unsustainable fishing, poorly planned development, pollution, population growth and climate change. If current trends continue, the amount of food provided by the Coral Triangle reef systems for Asia-Pacific coastal populations will halve by 2050.

Through partnership with local communities, WWF designs and supports initiatives that protect local livelihood and ensure fair access to a healthy and productive environment.

Tuna Fisheries

The Pacific Ocean contains many of the main fishing grounds for commercial species of tuna. Many long-lived tunas, such as bluefin tuna, are heavily overfished and populations are at risk worldwide.

Skipjack tuna accounts for 57% of global catches and is the main species caught in the Western Central Pacific. WWF worked with the first industrial-scale tuna fishery – the eight Parties to the Naru Agreement Western & Central Pacific skipjack tuna fishery – to achieve MSC certification for its free school purse seine (net) fishing operations. In 2012, the fishery was awarded certification for vessels operating across the exclusive economic zones of eight Pacific countries. We also helped secure MSC certifications for the Fiji albacore tuna fishery, Australian Eastern tuna fishery and Billfish fishery, and we are working with Australian retailers of canned tuna to source and sell MSC-certified tuna.

  • 57%
  • of the global catch is
  • skipjack tuna

© Jürgen Freund / WWF

To improve livelihood opportunities beyond fisheries, we are providing financial training to women – the sellers of fish.

Coastal Fisheries

By 2030, experts predict that on most of the Pacific Islands, coastal fisheries’ production will not meet local demand. In addition to health and economic factors, fishing is central to Pacific cultures’ way of life. In the face of growing populations, declining coastal fisheries and the effects of climate change, concerted action towards ensuring sustainable coastal fisheries is critical. This can only be achieved at the community level.

Since 2012, with support from the Australian Government and John West, WWF has worked with communities and government agencies in the Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea to support sustainable alternatives to reef fishing. An innovative approach that sees fishers assessing their own fish stocks is resulting in more effective community and rights-based co-management.

To improve livelihood opportunities beyond fisheries, we are providing financial training to women – the sellers of fish. This has resulted in the establishment of microfinance schemes in the Solomon Islands and PNG, with more than 700 women forming savings clubs, and more than 50 starting small businesses through revolving micro-loans.

© Arlene Bax / Simplot Australia / WWF-Aus

Marine Reserves and Flagship Species

Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) safeguard the rich diversity of ocean life while supporting local economies, and are a core pillar of our marine work. Over the past decade, WWF have engaged significantly in the Australian Commonwealth Marine Reserves process, in the areas of both science and advocacy. This Marine Reserve network is now 3.1 million square kilometres, by far the largest representative network of MPAs in the world. Within this, the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park and the Coral Sea Commonwealth Marine Reserve together became the largest adjoining MPA in the world, covering 1.3 million square kilometres.

  • mpa’s
  • safeguarding the rich
  • diversity of ocean life

© Jurgen Freund / WWF

Marine Reserves and Flagship Species

In 2012, we helped kickstart the Pacific Shark Heritage Program, which was instrumental in establishing Fiji’s first fully protected national marine park. With the continued backing of our supporters, we are now working with Pacific countries to develop National Plans of Action to further protect sharks.

© Cat Holloway / WWF

Celebrating the Future

Women's microfinance project in the Solomon Islands

Image: © naturepl.com / Anup Shah / WWF
Video: © WWF-Aus

Conservation Highlights

The Heart of Borneo

The forests in the Heart of Borneo are some of the most biologically diverse on the planet, and are home to the iconic but endangered Bornean orang-utan. These forests are vital to indigenous groups: over 11 million people rely on the forests for survival and quality of life, and benefit from their timber and non-timber resources. Yet Borneo has lost 30% of its forests in the last four decades. Conversion for oil palm plantations that produce palm oil, found in millions of consumer products, is the biggest driver of deforestation. If current deforestation rates continue unabated, another 30% of Borneo’s forest will be lost by 2020.

Over the past four years, WWF has worked in collaboration with corporate partners, local communities and local government to secure some major achievements in our mission to protect Borneo’s forests, animals and peoples.

Cooperation in the Heart of Borneo

The island of Borneo spans across Indonesia, Brunei Darussalam and Malaysia. Their shared responsibility to manage the island’s central highland rainforests – the Heart of Borneo – has led to an ambitious transboundary Conservation Highlight covering 220,000 square kilometers. The Heart of Borneo initiative aims to create a sustainable model for economic development through a network of protected areas, productive forests and other sustainable land uses.

  • 30%
  • of the forests have been lost in the past four decades

© naturepl.com / Juan Carlos Munoz / WWF

Orang-utan Conservation

Orang-utan management is an integral part of sustainable forest management. More than 75% of orang-utans in Borneo live outside protected areas, and it is increasingly recognised that well-managed forests can maintain biodiversity, including orang-utan populations. We are working with forestry companies to map orang-utan populations and design effective management plans, which include identifying, protecting and enhancing orang-utan habitat and food sources.

Community engagement and partnership is paramount. To this end, we are investing in three pillars of social development: legal empowerment of communities (for example, establishing local community patrols to prevent illegal poaching, mining and logging); sustainable livelihood opportunities, such as ecotourism ventures; and education for future leaders, including expanding our existing Education for Sustainable Development Program to new schools in the region.

© naturepl.com / Anup Shah / WWF

An Integrated approach

Over the past four years, we have worked with companies and consumers to increase awareness of sustainable forestry and promote responsible business. We are encouraging responsible purchasing through WWF’s Global Forest and Trade Network (GFTN), removing illegal timber sources through the Illegal Logging Prohibition Act. WWF also works with Australian companies importing palm oil from Indonesia to ensure they buy only legal and certified products.

  • 30%
  • of our planet is covered by forests,
  • yet they are home to 80% of the world’s terrestrial biodiversity

Healing Sebangau's Peat Forests

Better Forest Management

WWF is working with timber companies to achieve Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification. This independent verification helps ensure companies balance environmental, social and economic considerations, and that their operations are sustainable all the way along the supply chain. FSC certification is crucial for protecting Borneo’s forests and species, as well as the rights and livelihoods of indigenous people.

In the past four years, we identified a four million–hectare area in West and Central Kalimantan – the Arabela-Schwanner region – as a critical priority for sustainable forest management. The region includes around 40 timber concessions, and houses a population of more than 7,500 orang-utans (About 8% of the total remaining population). Through its Keep the Heart Beating campaign, Kimberly-Clark is supporting WWF to help move concession holders towards FSC certification.

To date, six forestry concessions have secured FSC certification covering 912,000ha and three more are on their way. By 2016, we aim to secure certification for at least one million hectares, and we will continue to work towards sustainable management across Borneo’s entire landscape.

Our long-term vision is to use evidence from successful initiatives – which show that good forest management is good for people, the economy and the environment – to advocate for improved land-use planning, which will mean cleared and degraded land is used for agricultural development, and Borneo’s remaining forested areas are designated for protection and production forestry.


forest concession in arabela-schwanner region

© WWF-Aus / Tim Cronin

Image: © WWF-Aus / Tanya Vernes
Video: © WWF-Aus / Alexander Watson

Conservation Highlights

The Kimberley

The Kimberley is one of the Earth’s great treasures. Ancient and iconic, it is spectacularly biodiverse and relatively undisturbed: it is the only mainland Australian biogeographic zone not to have seen a mammal extinction since European arrival. Aboriginal people have managed the significant natural and cultural values of the Kimberley for tens of thousands of years.

In recent years, though, it has become increasingly threatened by introduced species such as cats and cane toads, intense and uncontrolled fires and proposals for significant industrialisation.

The key to our success is to follow a simple formula: we work collaboratively with local partner organisations to develop and implement practical and effective solutions. In this way WWF works across the Kimberley on conservation projects that rely on traditional ecological knowledge, alongside Western science, to manage Indigenous Protected Areas. Over many years, WWF, together with its partners, has made significant progress in safeguarding this jewel on the Australian continent.

© Tanya Vernes / WWF-Aus

Magnifying the Efforts of Indigenous Rangers

Since 2013, WWF has invested in the Kimberley Ranger Network, facilitated by the Kimberley Land Council (KLC), to conduct the largest threatened animal survey project in Australia. Indigenous rangers regularly conduct scientific surveys and management for threatened animals and are often the only groups doing this important work across vast geographic areas. Indigenous rangers and KLC ecologists have found 6 species not previously known to Western science in addition to significant range extensions for species such as the northern quoll, scaly-tailed possum and magnificent tree frog.

The Kimberley Ranger Network protects more than 20 nationally threatened animals through fire and invasive species management, and provides the foundation for the conservation of endangered species including the black-footed rock-wallaby, bilby and golden bandicoot. Rangers are pioneering innovative CyberTracker technologies, and record scientific and traditional data daily. This ground-breaking project may be our best chance to save the Kimberley’s unique animals.

  • 20+
  • nationally threatened animals
  • protected
  • by The Kimberley Ranger Network

© Scott Van Barneveld / Kimberley Land Council / WWF-Aus

kimberley ranger program

© WWF-Aus / Chris Curnow

© naturepl.com / Fred Olivier / WWF

Rock-Wallabies at risk

Although the Kimberley continues to be a stronghold for many species disappearing from other parts of Australia – such as the Gouldian finch, bilby, northern quoll and golden bandicoot – our research shows that other species may now be at risk. The Kimberley Rock-Wallaby Project, which started in 2013, represents the largest ever survey for rock-wallabies undertaken in the region and has found some disturbing results. The nabarlek, formally thought to be widespread across the region, may have disappeared from the Kimberley mainland. Similarly, the black-footed rock-wallaby is now restricted to just three ranges and may be critically endangered with less than 1,000 individuals remaining. These declines are believed to have been caused by extensive, late dry-season fires and feral predators.

WWF is now working closely with the Kimberley Land Council, ecologists and Indigenous rangers in the north and central Kimberley, to protect key habitat by implementing buffer-strip fire management strategies. Over the next year, we also plan to work with Indigenous rangers on feral cat management strategies.

Kimberley Marine Parks

WWF has long recognised the Kimberley marine environment as a global treasure; its importance is comparable to the Great Barrier Reef and Ningaloo. Over the past 5 years, working with other conservation organisations there has been significant progress in the protection of the Kimberley coastal waters. The Western Australian Government has established two marine parks: Lalang-garram/Camden Sound Marine Park (2012) and Eighty Mile Beach Marine Park (2013). In the next 18 months, we expect them to finalise three more parks: the Yawuru Nagulagun Roebuck Bay, Horizontal Falls and North Kimberley. We are working to ensure these parks are scientifically robust and incorporate appropriate sanctuary zones – in part by using WWF funded research on the distribution and habitat utilisation of Australian snubfin dolphins. Ultimately, the aim to establish the Great Kimberley Marine Park, which will protect all coastal waters in the Kimberley.

© Paul Gamblin / WWF-Aus

© Tanya Vernes / WWF-Aus

National Heritage for the Kimberley

WWF supported the aspirations of Traditional Owners seeking National Heritage listing for the West Kimberley, working closely with other conservation groups and the local community. The listing was secured in 2011 and is the largest land-based heritage listing ever made in Australia, and the first to proceed with the full consent of Traditional Owners. Areas now recognised as National Heritage include Roebuck Bay, which WWF have been working to protect for more than a decade, and the Fitzroy River, tributaries and floodplains that were at risk from medium-scale coal mining.

35 years of work in Western Australia

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