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Date: Tuesday, 22 Jul 2014 00:00
Pacific Bluefin Tuna auction in local Japanese fishing port © (c)WWF Japan.Lima, Peru - WWF will urge a suspension of the Pacific Bluefin tuna fishery, if fishing nations fail to set binding catch limits in line with scientific recommendations this year.

WWF's hardening stance follows an inconclusive annual meeting of the Inter American Tropical Tuna Commission (IATTC) which deferred discussions on bluefin tuna quotas to October. Catch reductions of at least 50 per cent and a drastic reduction in the take of juveniles will also need to be implemented by the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) in Samoa in December in order to secure the future of the fishery.

"It is extremely disappointing that five days of negotiations by the 21 country members of the IATTC have produced so little in the way of tangible fishery outcomes," said Pablo Guerrero, Eastern Pacific Ocean Tuna Coordinator for WWF's Smart Fishing Initiative. "According to the scientists the breeding stock of Pacific Bluefin Tuna are at only 4 per cent of original levels and 90 percent of the current catch are juveniles yet to breed."

At the just concluded meeting, major fishing countries Japan, Korea, Mexico and the US did not agree on conservation measures and delayed decisions until October, when the parties will meet again to negotiate the quota for 2015. WWF is seeking a reduction from 5000 to 2750 metric tons.

For tuna generally where purse seine fishery capacity levels are a third more than levels set out in the IAATC's 2005 Plan for Management of Regional Capacity, the commission was also unable to agree on a reduction plan to meet the capacity limits. The alternative, said Guerrero, was to expand the size and duration of fishery closures to maintain healthy tuna stocks in the face of the overcapacity and this should be of great concern to the fisheries sector.

The IATTC also failed to adopt conservation measures to reduce fishing mortality of silky sharks in order to rebuild stocks. Sharks are species of slow growth and late maturity which are captured by various fleets in the Pacific. Japan and Korea objected to proposals to totally prohibit the removal of shark fins at sea and to require that sharks be landed with their fins naturally attached, citing economic reasons like quality deteriorations and capacity

A positive outcome of the meeting was the approval of mandatory IMO (International Maritime Organization) numbers for all purse seiners and long liners greater than 20m in length operating in the Convention area to monitor and control existing fishing capacity. WWF is very pleased that the IATTC voted for the evaluation of target and limit reference points for the North Pacific albacore, which will permit scientist to assess the impacts of strategies and management options for this fishery.

Note to editors
[1] The IATTC is responsible for the conservation and management of tuna and other marine resources in the eastern Pacific Ocean. The members of the IATTC are: Belize, Canada, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, European Union, France, Guatemala, Japan, Kiribati, Korea, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Peru, Chinese Taipei, United States, Vanuatu, Venezuela.

More information:
•Pablo Guerrero, Eastern Pacific Ocean Tuna Coordinator – WWF Smart Fishing Initiative pablo.guerrero@wwf.org.ec , Cel+593 9 99204171



 
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Date: Saturday, 12 Jul 2014 00:00
Pacific Bluefin Tuna auction in local Japanese fishing port © (c)WWF Japan.Lima, Peru: The long term sustainability of the Pacific Bluefin Tuna fishery can only be guaranteed by following the science and halving catch limits, WWF will tell the two Regional Fisheries Management Organisations (RFMOs) covering the Pacific.

The 21 country and European Union members of the Inter American Tropical Tuna Commission (IATTC) meeting next week in Lima, Peru will be faced with findings that measures of Pacific Bluefin tuna breeding stock have declined from their unfished levels by more than 96 percent. Also concerning is the fact that about 90% of the fished species are young fish that have not yet reproduced. The advice from experts of the International Scientific Committee (ISC) for tuna on how overfished Pacific Bluefin tuna must also be taken to the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) in Samoa in December.

Japan, Mexico, the United States and South Korea are the major countries fishing Pacific bluefin, while the main market is Japan.

"Management measures in the Eastern Pacific and Western and Central Pacific are totally insufficient to preserve the Pacific Bluefin tuna stock. Only a 50% reduction of catches and stringent measures to protect juveniles can ensure a long-term sustainability of this fishery," said Pablo Guerrero, Eastern Pacific Ocean Tuna Coordinator for WWF's Smart Fishing Initiative.

Fleet capacity one third more than recommendation

In June 2012, the Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission set a quota for the tuna catch in the eastern Pacific for the first time ever. Last year the IATTC established that commercial catches in the Eastern Pacific Ocean should not exceed 5000 metric tons in 2014, but only the significant reduction of this quota might help Pacific bluefin tuna biomass to recover.

"Delegates to the Lima meeting need to agree to a catch limit of 2750 metric tons to be consistent with the ISC's recommendation of a 50% reduction of catches", said Guerrero.

For tuna fisheries generally, WWF is highlighting "a clear fishing overcapacity in the Eastern Pacific that undermines the economic performance of the fleet and if not properly controlled, can lead to overfishing of the main tuna stocks". WWF is calling on IATTC for an urgent reduction plan to meet the purse seine fishery capacity levels set out in its 2005 Plan for Management of Regional Capacity, given that current recorded capacity levels exceed these limits by more than a third.

"We are hoping that the Pacific Ocean tuna fishers will see it is in their best interests to address this issue of too many boats chasing too few fish and avoid more draconian management measures such as extended closed seasons and areas."

The IATTC should also adopt conservation measures to reduce fishing mortality of silky sharks in order to rebuild the stock of these sharks in the EPO, and also totally prohibit the removal of fins at sea and to require that sharks be landed with their fins naturally attached. IATTC members should adopt the scientific recommendations on best practices for handling mantarays aboard purse seiners.

Other measures which could make tuna fisheries more sustainable include: mandatory IMO (International Maritime Organization) numbers for all purse seiners and long liners greater than 20m in length operating in the Convention area to monitor and control existing fishing capacity; to provide additional data on movement of FADs (Fish Aggregated Devices) to the Commission, and to mark and identify these devices. And finally, that fishing fleets using FADs avoid the use of any entangling material deployed beneath them in order to reduce by catch of sea turtles and sharks.

Tuna is one of the most valuable fisheries in the Eastern Pacific Ocean, supporting a billion dollar industry that sustains the livelihoods of tens of thousands of people and contributes to economic growth and social development in the region. "It is vital that the member states of the IATTC expand their commitment to the responsible management necessary for sustainable levels of tuna stocks while ensuring a healthy long-term shark population at the same time," added Pablo Guerrero.


Note to editors
[1] The IATTC is responsible for the conservation and management of tuna and other marine resources in the eastern Pacific Ocean. The members of the IATTC are: Belize, Canada, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, European Union, France, Guatemala, Japan, Kiribati, Korea, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Peru, Chinese Taipei, United States, Vanuatu, Venezuela.


For more detailed information:
•Pablo Guerrero, Eastern Pacific Ocean Tuna Coordinator – WWF Smart Fishing Initiative pablo.guerrero@wwf.org.ec , Cel+593 9 99204171
•Julio Mario Fernandez, Communications Director, WWF-LAC
JulioMario.Fernandez@wwfus.org, Cel + 593 9 83356421 / Office + 593 2 2554783,

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. More information: panda.org/news
 
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Date: Saturday, 12 Jul 2014 00:00
Pacific Bluefin Tuna auction in local Japanese fishing port © (c)WWF Japan.Lima, Peru: The long term sustainability of the Pacific Bluefin Tuna fishery can only be guaranteed by following the science and halving catch limits, WWF will tell the two Regional Fisheries Management Organisations (RFMOs) covering the Pacific.

The 21 country and European Union members of the Inter American Tropical Tuna Commission (IATTC) meeting next week in Lima, Peru will be faced with findings that measures of Pacific Bluefin tuna breeding stock have declined from their unfished levels by more than 96 percent. Also concerning is the fact that about 90% of the fished species are young fish that have not yet reproduced. The advice from experts of the International Scientific Committee (ISC) for tuna on how overfished Pacific Bluefin tuna must also be taken to the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) in Samoa in December.

Japan, Mexico, the United States and South Korea are the major countries fishing Pacific bluefin, while the main market is Japan.

"Management measures in the Eastern Pacific and Western and Central Pacific are totally insufficient to preserve the Pacific Bluefin tuna stock. Only a 50% reduction of catches and stringent measures to protect juveniles can ensure a long-term sustainability of this fishery," said Pablo Guerrero, Eastern Pacific Ocean Tuna Coordinator for WWF's Smart Fishing Initiative.

Fleet capacity one third more than recommendation

In June 2012, the Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission set a quota for the tuna catch in the eastern Pacific for the first time ever. Last year the IATTC established that commercial catches in the Eastern Pacific Ocean should not exceed 5000 metric tons in 2014, but only the significant reduction of this quota might help Pacific bluefin tuna biomass to recover.

"Delegates to the Lima meeting need to agree to a catch limit of 2750 metric tons to be consistent with the ISC's recommendation of a 50% reduction of catches", said Guerrero.

For tuna fisheries generally, WWF is highlighting "a clear fishing overcapacity in the Eastern Pacific that undermines the economic performance of the fleet and if not properly controlled, can lead to overfishing of the main tuna stocks". WWF is calling on IATTC for an urgent reduction plan to meet the purse seine fishery capacity levels set out in its 2005 Plan for Management of Regional Capacity, given that current recorded capacity levels exceed these limits by more than a third.

"We are hoping that the Pacific Ocean tuna fishers will see it is in their best interests to address this issue of too many boats chasing too few fish and avoid more draconian management measures such as extended closed seasons and areas."

The IATTC should also adopt conservation measures to reduce fishing mortality of silky sharks in order to rebuild the stock of these sharks in the EPO, and also totally prohibit the removal of fins at sea and to require that sharks be landed with their fins naturally attached. IATTC members should adopt the scientific recommendations on best practices for handling mantarays aboard purse seiners.

Other measures which could make tuna fisheries more sustainable include: mandatory IMO (International Maritime Organization) numbers for all purse seiners and long liners greater than 20m in length operating in the Convention area to monitor and control existing fishing capacity; to provide additional data on movement of FADs (Fish Aggregated Devices) to the Commission, and to mark and identify these devices. And finally, that fishing fleets using FADs avoid the use of any entangling material deployed beneath them in order to reduce by catch of sea turtles and sharks.

Tuna is one of the most valuable fisheries in the Eastern Pacific Ocean, supporting a billion dollar industry that sustains the livelihoods of tens of thousands of people and contributes to economic growth and social development in the region. "It is vital that the member states of the IATTC expand their commitment to the responsible management necessary for sustainable levels of tuna stocks while ensuring a healthy long-term shark population at the same time," added Pablo Guerrero.


Note to editors
[1] The IATTC is responsible for the conservation and management of tuna and other marine resources in the eastern Pacific Ocean. The members of the IATTC are: Belize, Canada, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, European Union, France, Guatemala, Japan, Kiribati, Korea, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Peru, Chinese Taipei, United States, Vanuatu, Venezuela.


For more detailed information:
•Pablo Guerrero, Eastern Pacific Ocean Tuna Coordinator – WWF Smart Fishing Initiative pablo.guerrero@wwf.org.ec , Cel+593 9 99204171
•Julio Mario Fernandez, Communications Director, WWF-LAC
JulioMario.Fernandez@wwfus.org, Cel + 593 9 83356421 / Office + 593 2 2554783,

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. More information: panda.org/news
 
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Date: Friday, 11 Jul 2014 00:00
Seized Shipment of Illegal African Elephant Tusks, ThailandCustoms officials in Suvarnabhumi discover a shipment of African elephant tusks from Mozambique. Suvarnabhumi is a major hub for both wildlife and drug trafficking, Thailand. © WWF Canon / James MorganThailand has until next March to take measures to shut down domestic trade in illegal elephant ivory or it will face trade sanctions, an international meeting on wildlife trade announced today.

Governments at a meeting of the Convention on the International Trade of Endangered Species (CITES) requested that Thailand enact legislation to protect elephants by stemming the trade of illegal African ivory in the country. CITES also requested that Thailand implement a registration system for domestic ivory and ivory traders.

Any possible sanctions would impact Thailand's trade in species covered by the convention, including ornamental plants, such as orchids, and reptile leather.

WWF has been calling on Thailand to fulfil the pledge it made in 2013 to close its domestic ivory market and welcomes the requirement that is now being imposed on the country.

"We feel strongly that a suspension of trade in all CITES goods from Thailand would have been justified. The country has failed to act on this issue over many years, and it should be clear to them that this is their last chance," said Dr Colman O'Criodain, WWF's analyst on wildlife trade.

Thailand's ivory market is the largest unregulated market in the world. The trade in Thailand is fuelled by ivory from poached African elephant's tusks that are smuggled into the country.

Current Thai law allows for ivory from domesticated Thai elephants to be sold legally. As a result, large quantities of African ivory can be laundered through Thai shops. Only by closing the domestic trade in ivory can Thailand help eliminate the threat to African elephants.

A recent report on Thailand's ivory market by the wildlife trade monitoring network TRAFFIC, found the availability of ivory for sale in Bangkok has tripled since Thailand pledged to eradicate its domestic ivory market in 2013. The latest CITES figures show that more than 20,000 African elephants are killed by poachers each year.

"We are heartened to see that a number of governments, especially the US and EU member states, share our concerns," said O'Criodain. "WWF has repeatedly highlighted the fact that Thailand's market is fuelling the illegal assault on African elephants and the public voiced its discontent through an Avaaz petition that gained over a half million signatures."

The meeting also took steps to curtail illegal trade in rhino horn in Viet Nam and Mozambique by highlighting the two countries as priorities in the illegal rhino horn trade. Both countries could face sanctions if they do not take measures to stamp out illegal rhino horn trade within strict deadlines.

"Viet Nam and Mozambique were given concrete milestones and deadlines to be achieved over the next year. Firm anti-poaching and trade controls in Africa, as well as strong enforcement and demand reduction in Viet Nam are key elements to solve the rhino poaching crisis. Rhinos are running out of time." says Dr Carlos Drews, WWF's Director of Species Conservation.

Mozambique must prepare a national rhino action plan detailing its activities. Viet Nam must show how it is increasing law enforcement in domestic markets, combating demand and preventing rhino horn from entering its borders.

The next meeting of CITES governments takes place in August 2015. All countries that have been put on notice must meet the requirements being demanded of them prior to that meeting.
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Date: Friday, 11 Jul 2014 00:00
Seized Shipment of Illegal African Elephant Tusks, ThailandCustoms officials in Suvarnabhumi discover a shipment of African elephant tusks from Mozambique. Suvarnabhumi is a major hub for both wildlife and drug trafficking, Thailand. © WWF Canon / James MorganThailand has until next March to take measures to shut down domestic trade in illegal elephant ivory or it will face trade sanctions, an international meeting on wildlife trade announced today.

Governments at a meeting of the Convention on the International Trade of Endangered Species (CITES) requested that Thailand enact legislation to protect elephants by stemming the trade of illegal African ivory in the country. CITES also requested that Thailand implement a registration system for domestic ivory and ivory traders.

Any possible sanctions would impact Thailand's trade in species covered by the convention, including ornamental plants, such as orchids, and reptile leather.

WWF has been calling on Thailand to fulfil the pledge it made in 2013 to close its domestic ivory market and welcomes the requirement that is now being imposed on the country.

"We feel strongly that a suspension of trade in all CITES goods from Thailand would have been justified. The country has failed to act on this issue over many years, and it should be clear to them that this is their last chance," said Dr Colman O'Criodain, WWF's analyst on wildlife trade.

Thailand's ivory market is the largest unregulated market in the world. The trade in Thailand is fuelled by ivory from poached African elephant's tusks that are smuggled into the country.

Current Thai law allows for ivory from domesticated Thai elephants to be sold legally. As a result, large quantities of African ivory can be laundered through Thai shops. Only by closing the domestic trade in ivory can Thailand help eliminate the threat to African elephants.

A recent report on Thailand's ivory market by the wildlife trade monitoring network TRAFFIC, found the availability of ivory for sale in Bangkok has tripled since Thailand pledged to eradicate its domestic ivory market in 2013. The latest CITES figures show that more than 20,000 African elephants are killed by poachers each year.

"We are heartened to see that a number of governments, especially the US and EU member states, share our concerns," said O'Criodain. "WWF has repeatedly highlighted the fact that Thailand's market is fuelling the illegal assault on African elephants and the public voiced its discontent through an Avaaz petition that gained over a half million signatures."

The meeting also took steps to curtail illegal trade in rhino horn in Viet Nam and Mozambique by highlighting the two countries as priorities in the illegal rhino horn trade. Both countries could face sanctions if they do not take measures to stamp out illegal rhino horn trade within strict deadlines.

"Viet Nam and Mozambique were given concrete milestones and deadlines to be achieved over the next year. Firm anti-poaching and trade controls in Africa, as well as strong enforcement and demand reduction in Viet Nam are key elements to solve the rhino poaching crisis. Rhinos are running out of time." says Dr Carlos Drews, WWF's Director of Species Conservation.

Mozambique must prepare a national rhino action plan detailing its activities. Viet Nam must show how it is increasing law enforcement in domestic markets, combating demand and preventing rhino horn from entering its borders.

The next meeting of CITES governments takes place in August 2015. All countries that have been put on notice must meet the requirements being demanded of them prior to that meeting.
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Date: Wednesday, 02 Jul 2014 00:00
Ivory braclets on sale in Tha Phrachan market, Thailand © WWF-Canon / James Morgan The availability of ivory items for sale in Bangkok has nearly tripled in the last 18 months, according to a report released days before a major international meeting on wildlife trade.

The report, Polishing off the ivory: Surveys of Thailand's ivory market released today by the wildlife trade monitoring network TRAFFIC, found an increase both in the number of locations selling ivory as well as the quantity of ivory available since Thailand pledged to eradicate its domestic ivory trade in 2013.

"The level of improvement made in Thailand since 2013 is bitterly disappointing," says Dr Colman O'Criodain, WWF's Policy Analyst on International Wildlife Trade. "The country hosted the last global meeting of governments on wildlife trade, but has made no progress in shutting down its domestic markets despite a national commitment from the highest level."

The Standing Committee of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) meets in Geneva next week to check the progress on pledges made since the 2013 meeting of parties to the convention. That meeting took place in Bangkok and was widely seen as creating a new willingness among governments to tackle the wildlife crime crisis.

WWF calls on CITES to take a harder line with countries, including Thailand, that are failing to act on their commitments to counter illegal wildlife trade. CITES can impose stricter deadlines and conduct closer monitoring. CITES also has the power to impose sanctions, by recommending that governments cease trading in CITES-listed species with countries that are not showing progress.

"The Standing Committee needs to take resolute action at this meeting," says Dr Carlos Drews, WWF's Director of Species Conservation. "Past practice, whereby the issue has simply been passed from one meeting to the next without Thailand taking concrete action, has contributed to the situation we find ourselves in now."

The TRAFFIC report shows that the number of retail outlets selling ivory in Bangkok jumped from 61 to 105 between January and December of 2013. The number and size of specific ivory products indicated that larger-sized elephant tusks are reaching the market in Thailand. This, along with seizure data, confirms illegal attempts to move large quantities of African elephant ivory into the country.

The report also provides evidence that the quantity of ivory available for purchase far exceeds the limited supply available from domesticated animals, meaning the vast majority of ivory being sold is illegal under international laws.

The latest CITES figures show that African elephant poaching rates remain above 20,000 per year, well in excess of the reproduction rate of the population, while the growing number of seizures of ivory shipments over 500kg indicate the increasing role played by organised criminals in the illegal trade.

Thailand's domestic ivory market is the biggest unregulated market in the world. In advance of the upcoming CITES meeting, a coalition of NGOs including WWF sent a letter to the country's military government calling for action on the ivory trade issue.
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Date: Wednesday, 02 Jul 2014 00:00
Ivory braclets on sale in Tha Phrachan market, Thailand © WWF-Canon / James Morgan The availability of ivory items for sale in Bangkok has nearly tripled in the last 18 months, according to a report released days before a major international meeting on wildlife trade.

The report, Polishing off the ivory: Surveys of Thailand's ivory market released today by the wildlife trade monitoring network TRAFFIC, found an increase both in the number of locations selling ivory as well as the quantity of ivory available since Thailand pledged to eradicate its domestic ivory trade in 2013.

"The level of improvement made in Thailand since 2013 is bitterly disappointing," says Dr Colman O'Criodain, WWF's Policy Analyst on International Wildlife Trade. "The country hosted the last global meeting of governments on wildlife trade, but has made no progress in shutting down its domestic markets despite a national commitment from the highest level."

The Standing Committee of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) meets in Geneva next week to check the progress on pledges made since the 2013 meeting of parties to the convention. That meeting took place in Bangkok and was widely seen as creating a new willingness among governments to tackle the wildlife crime crisis.

WWF calls on CITES to take a harder line with countries, including Thailand, that are failing to act on their commitments to counter illegal wildlife trade. CITES can impose stricter deadlines and conduct closer monitoring. CITES also has the power to impose sanctions, by recommending that governments cease trading in CITES-listed species with countries that are not showing progress.

"The Standing Committee needs to take resolute action at this meeting," says Dr Carlos Drews, WWF's Director of Species Conservation. "Past practice, whereby the issue has simply been passed from one meeting to the next without Thailand taking concrete action, has contributed to the situation we find ourselves in now."

The TRAFFIC report shows that the number of retail outlets selling ivory in Bangkok jumped from 61 to 105 between January and December of 2013. The number and size of specific ivory products indicated that larger-sized elephant tusks are reaching the market in Thailand. This, along with seizure data, confirms illegal attempts to move large quantities of African elephant ivory into the country.

The report also provides evidence that the quantity of ivory available for purchase far exceeds the limited supply available from domesticated animals, meaning the vast majority of ivory being sold is illegal under international laws.

The latest CITES figures show that African elephant poaching rates remain above 20,000 per year, well in excess of the reproduction rate of the population, while the growing number of seizures of ivory shipments over 500kg indicate the increasing role played by organised criminals in the illegal trade.

Thailand's domestic ivory market is the biggest unregulated market in the world. In advance of the upcoming CITES meeting, a coalition of NGOs including WWF sent a letter to the country's military government calling for action on the ivory trade issue.
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Date: Friday, 27 Jun 2014 00:00
Two Mekong Irrawaddy dolphins spotted at Tbong Kla deep pool © WWF- Cambodia/ Gerad RyanWWF 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."
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Date: Friday, 27 Jun 2014 00:00
Two Mekong Irrawaddy dolphins spotted at Tbong Kla deep pool © WWF- Cambodia/ Gerad RyanWWF 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."
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Date: Monday, 23 Jun 2014 00:00
Women cutting grass in Khata, Nepal © Simon de Trey-White / WWF-UKOn the occasion of this week's United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA), WWF calls on environment ministers to push for environmental concerns to be central to the new global development agenda.

Global conservation organization WWF is also advocating concerted international pressure to cut wildlife crime.

The inaugural United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA), taking place 23-27 June in Nairobi, Kenya, is the first time all countries will gather to discuss environmental issues since the Rio+20 summit in Brazil in 2012.

With the Millennium Development Goals reaching their target date in 2015, a new agenda for global development is currently being created – the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

"The United Nations Environment Assembly is a historic gathering of global environmental leaders and marks a turning point in the priority level of sustainability issues for world governments," said Marco Lambertini, WWF International Director General, attending UNEA this week.

"WWF calls on environment ministers to use this opportunity to raise the commitment of their governments to integrate the environment and sustainability in all of the SDGs, currently under negotiation.

"WWF is also strongly urging environment ministers here in Nairobi this week to actively engage all sectors of their governments and civil societies to find and implement bold solutions to tackle illicit wildlife trafficking," said Lambertini.

"Much good work has been done, but the approach needs to be relentless, comprehensive, cross-sectoral and global. Both the demand and supply sides must be targeted if we are to stop this scourge.

"Together we can find effective solutions. Governments have the primary responsibility to halt and reverse this criminal activity which is not just driving the steep decline of endangered and crucial wildlife, but also affects local economies and is becoming an issue of national security."

UNEA is organized and hosted by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). WWF has supported the upgrade of UNEP to a specialized UN agency since 2006, and welcomes the establishment of the UNEA to help raise the profile of global environmental governance.


Media contact: Gemma Parkes, WWF International Executive Communications Manager
gparkes@wwfint.org / +41 79 253 6386
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Date: Monday, 23 Jun 2014 00:00
Women cutting grass in Khata, Nepal © Simon de Trey-White / WWF-UKOn the occasion of this week's United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA), WWF calls on environment ministers to push for environmental concerns to be central to the new global development agenda.

Global conservation organization WWF is also advocating concerted international pressure to cut wildlife crime.

The inaugural United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA), taking place 23-27 June in Nairobi, Kenya, is the first time all countries will gather to discuss environmental issues since the Rio+20 summit in Brazil in 2012.

With the Millennium Development Goals reaching their target date in 2015, a new agenda for global development is currently being created – the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

"The United Nations Environment Assembly is a historic gathering of global environmental leaders and marks a turning point in the priority level of sustainability issues for world governments," said Marco Lambertini, WWF International Director General, attending UNEA this week.

"WWF calls on environment ministers to use this opportunity to raise the commitment of their governments to integrate the environment and sustainability in all of the SDGs, currently under negotiation.

"WWF is also strongly urging environment ministers here in Nairobi this week to actively engage all sectors of their governments and civil societies to find and implement bold solutions to tackle illicit wildlife trafficking," said Lambertini.

"Much good work has been done, but the approach needs to be relentless, comprehensive, cross-sectoral and global. Both the demand and supply sides must be targeted if we are to stop this scourge.

"Together we can find effective solutions. Governments have the primary responsibility to halt and reverse this criminal activity which is not just driving the steep decline of endangered and crucial wildlife, but also affects local economies and is becoming an issue of national security."

UNEA is organized and hosted by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). WWF has supported the upgrade of UNEP to a specialized UN agency since 2006, and welcomes the establishment of the UNEA to help raise the profile of global environmental governance.


Media contact: Gemma Parkes, WWF International Executive Communications Manager
gparkes@wwfint.org / +41 79 253 6386
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Date: Friday, 20 Jun 2014 00:00
Deep sea fishing: Landing the catch on a deep sea trawler North Atlantic Ocean © Mike R. Jackson / WWF-CanonGland, Switzerland/Cascais, Portugal – Parties to the OSPAR Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment of the North-East Atlantic should take measures to control human impacts in marine protected areas. Action is being urged in advance of the upcoming OSPAR meeting in Cascais, Portugal, beginning June 23.

The 15 OSPAR Convention countries and the European Union adopted the world's first network of high seas marine protected areas around the Mid-Atlantic ridge in 2010. Despite this recognition, there are currently no measures to control harmful activity in the areas except a temporary closure to protect vulnerable marine ecosystems on the seafloor from bottom fishing. Even this measure is thwarted in some locations.

Fishing of deep water and pelagic stocks remains unrestricted, as do maritime transport and potential extraction of minerals from the seabed. The lack of protection puts a wealth of wildlife at risk, including deep-water sharks and rays, peculiar squids and octopuses, sponge aggregations and cold-water coral reefs.

"WWF expects OSPAR and its contracting parties to scale up their efforts to draw up the necessary conservation measures," says Stephan Lutter, WWF's International Marine Policy Officer and observer to OSPAR. "Parties need to agree on a roadmap and have it in place by 2016 at the latest."

WWF recognized the creation of the Mid-Atlantic protected areas in 2010 by awarding the organization's highest conservation honor, the Gift to the Earth. The protected area network comprises seven sites covering over 480,000 square kilometers of ocean. In addition to the diversity of resident species, plankton-rich currents serve as feeding grounds for migratory seabirds, cetaceans and turtles.

"Swift collective action to secure this outstanding Gift to the Earth is sadly needed," says Lutter. "So far, it has been hampered by national vanities, lack of commitment in regulatory bodies and the absence of a global instrument to protect biological diversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction."

In addition to the lack of protective measures, harmful bottom trawling continues in the high seas of the Josephine Seamount Marine Protected Area, which covers 20,000 square kilometers on Portugal's outer continental shelf.

"Activities around the Josephine Seamount run contrary to the conservation objectives of OSPAR and contravene UN resolutions on sustainable fishing. This high seas protected area is still a mere 'paper park'," says Lutter.

The upcoming OSPAR meeting will take place near Sintra, Portugal, where environment ministers adopted the first legally binding provisions to protect biological diversity and ecosystems in 1998. Progress has been made since that time to identify species and habitats under threat and decline. While further conservation measures are required, a network of marine protected areas covering over 5 per cent of the North-East Atlantic has been established.
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Date: Friday, 20 Jun 2014 00:00
Deep sea fishing: Landing the catch on a deep sea trawler North Atlantic Ocean © Mike R. Jackson / WWF-CanonGland, Switzerland/Cascais, Portugal – Parties to the OSPAR Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment of the North-East Atlantic should take measures to control human impacts in marine protected areas. Action is being urged in advance of the upcoming OSPAR meeting in Cascais, Portugal, beginning June 23.

The 15 OSPAR Convention countries and the European Union adopted the world's first network of high seas marine protected areas around the Mid-Atlantic ridge in 2010. Despite this recognition, there are currently no measures to control harmful activity in the areas except a temporary closure to protect vulnerable marine ecosystems on the seafloor from bottom fishing. Even this measure is thwarted in some locations.

Fishing of deep water and pelagic stocks remains unrestricted, as do maritime transport and potential extraction of minerals from the seabed. The lack of protection puts a wealth of wildlife at risk, including deep-water sharks and rays, peculiar squids and octopuses, sponge aggregations and cold-water coral reefs.

"WWF expects OSPAR and its contracting parties to scale up their efforts to draw up the necessary conservation measures," says Stephan Lutter, WWF's International Marine Policy Officer and observer to OSPAR. "Parties need to agree on a roadmap and have it in place by 2016 at the latest."

WWF recognized the creation of the Mid-Atlantic protected areas in 2010 by awarding the organization's highest conservation honor, the Gift to the Earth. The protected area network comprises seven sites covering over 480,000 square kilometers of ocean. In addition to the diversity of resident species, plankton-rich currents serve as feeding grounds for migratory seabirds, cetaceans and turtles.

"Swift collective action to secure this outstanding Gift to the Earth is sadly needed," says Lutter. "So far, it has been hampered by national vanities, lack of commitment in regulatory bodies and the absence of a global instrument to protect biological diversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction."

In addition to the lack of protective measures, harmful bottom trawling continues in the high seas of the Josephine Seamount Marine Protected Area, which covers 20,000 square kilometers on Portugal's outer continental shelf.

"Activities around the Josephine Seamount run contrary to the conservation objectives of OSPAR and contravene UN resolutions on sustainable fishing. This high seas protected area is still a mere 'paper park'," says Lutter.

The upcoming OSPAR meeting will take place near Sintra, Portugal, where environment ministers adopted the first legally binding provisions to protect biological diversity and ecosystems in 1998. Progress has been made since that time to identify species and habitats under threat and decline. While further conservation measures are required, a network of marine protected areas covering over 5 per cent of the North-East Atlantic has been established.
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Date: Thursday, 19 Jun 2014 00:00
Old elephant carcass, Mozambique. © WWF-MozambiqueMaputo: Up to 900 elephants died in northern Mozambique over a three year period according to the latest results from an aerial survey. The survey, commissioned by WWF-Mozambique shows that between 480 and 900 elephants died in the area between 2011 and 2013.

The landscape survey of the Quirimbas National Park conducted in late 2013 found that almost half the elephants sighted from the air were carcasses.

"The elephant deaths are probably due to illegal hunting and the losses are likely to be devastating to the population," said Anabela Rodriguez, Country Director of WWF-Mozambique.

This week, conservation NGOs, wildlife experts and government officials have been meeting in Maputo, Mozambique, to find ways to counter this renewed onslaught on the elephant and rhino populations of southern Africa. The workshop has been funded by WWF-South Africa and the German government (BMZ).

"Mozambique has emerged as one of the main places of the slaughter of elephants and ivory transit in Africa and as a profitable warehouse for transit and export of rhino horn for the Asian markets. We need to see urgent action and ongoing commitment to combat these illegal activities," said WWF International's Policy Expert on Wildlife Trade, Colman O'Criodain.

The meeting comes in the wake of increasingly alarming statistics coming out of northern Mozambique and neighbouring South Africa. Although Mozambique no longer has a natural rhino population, except for a few animals that stray across the border from the Kruger National Park, it is heavily implicated in poaching in South Africa. Figures released at the end of May showed a total of 442 rhinos have already been poached in 2014.

According to South Africa's Department of Environmental Affairs, 293 of these rhinos were poached in the Kruger National Park. In addition, authorities in the Kruger National Park recently reported the first documented case of elephant poaching in the park in 10 years.

"Well-organised and structured criminal networks facilitated by corruption are luring unemployed youths in the region to engage in criminal activities," said Dr Jo Shaw, Manager of the Rhino Programme for WWF-South Africa. "In order to cope with this crisis, we need interventions that involve a variety of stakeholders from government, through to the private sector and civil society to change attitudes towards wildlife."

The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) is due to meet in July to assess progress from countries most implicated in the illegal ivory trade. Elephant ivory is primarily trafficked to Asian markets, in particular Thailand and China where it is used for ornamental purposes.

"The CITES Secretariat has reached out to Mozambique to help it in tackling the problem but has received little by way of response. Governments meet in Geneva next month to discuss the issue of illegal ivory but there appears to be little sense of urgency about the problem. In particular, the international community needs to send a strong message to Thailand, which has done little to address the issue of its huge, unregulated domestic ivory market," said O'Criodain.

At a local level in Mozambique the Maputo workshop is looking at the causes of wildlife crime such as weak enforcement, vulnerable borders, corruption, a lack of institutional co-ordination, the existing legal frameworks, human/elephant conflict, human activity within conservation areas and a lack of appreciation for wildlife by the general populace.

Three key areas were identified as vital in the fight against poaching and illegal wildlife trafficking including strengthened law enforcement and increased awareness across all sectors of society about illegal wildlife trade and its impacts in Mozambique. Efforts to reduce the costs of living with wildlife such as crop destructions and increased benefits through tourism were also identified.
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Date: Thursday, 19 Jun 2014 00:00
Old elephant carcass, Mozambique. © WWF-MozambiqueMaputo: Up to 900 elephants died in northern Mozambique over a three year period according to the latest results from an aerial survey. The survey, commissioned by WWF-Mozambique shows that between 480 and 900 elephants died in the area between 2011 and 2013.

The landscape survey of the Quirimbas National Park conducted in late 2013 found that almost half the elephants sighted from the air were carcasses.

"The elephant deaths are probably due to illegal hunting and the losses are likely to be devastating to the population," said Anabela Rodriguez, Country Director of WWF-Mozambique.

This week, conservation NGOs, wildlife experts and government officials have been meeting in Maputo, Mozambique, to find ways to counter this renewed onslaught on the elephant and rhino populations of southern Africa. The workshop has been funded by WWF-South Africa and the German government (BMZ).

"Mozambique has emerged as one of the main places of the slaughter of elephants and ivory transit in Africa and as a profitable warehouse for transit and export of rhino horn for the Asian markets. We need to see urgent action and ongoing commitment to combat these illegal activities," said WWF International's Policy Expert on Wildlife Trade, Colman O'Criodain.

The meeting comes in the wake of increasingly alarming statistics coming out of northern Mozambique and neighbouring South Africa. Although Mozambique no longer has a natural rhino population, except for a few animals that stray across the border from the Kruger National Park, it is heavily implicated in poaching in South Africa. Figures released at the end of May showed a total of 442 rhinos have already been poached in 2014.

According to South Africa's Department of Environmental Affairs, 293 of these rhinos were poached in the Kruger National Park. In addition, authorities in the Kruger National Park recently reported the first documented case of elephant poaching in the park in 10 years.

"Well-organised and structured criminal networks facilitated by corruption are luring unemployed youths in the region to engage in criminal activities," said Dr Jo Shaw, Manager of the Rhino Programme for WWF-South Africa. "In order to cope with this crisis, we need interventions that involve a variety of stakeholders from government, through to the private sector and civil society to change attitudes towards wildlife."

The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) is due to meet in July to assess progress from countries most implicated in the illegal ivory trade. Elephant ivory is primarily trafficked to Asian markets, in particular Thailand and China where it is used for ornamental purposes.

"The CITES Secretariat has reached out to Mozambique to help it in tackling the problem but has received little by way of response. Governments meet in Geneva next month to discuss the issue of illegal ivory but there appears to be little sense of urgency about the problem. In particular, the international community needs to send a strong message to Thailand, which has done little to address the issue of its huge, unregulated domestic ivory market," said O'Criodain.

At a local level in Mozambique the Maputo workshop is looking at the causes of wildlife crime such as weak enforcement, vulnerable borders, corruption, a lack of institutional co-ordination, the existing legal frameworks, human/elephant conflict, human activity within conservation areas and a lack of appreciation for wildlife by the general populace.

Three key areas were identified as vital in the fight against poaching and illegal wildlife trafficking including strengthened law enforcement and increased awareness across all sectors of society about illegal wildlife trade and its impacts in Mozambique. Efforts to reduce the costs of living with wildlife such as crop destructions and increased benefits through tourism were also identified.
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Date: Wednesday, 18 Jun 2014 00:00
Red coral, Great barrier reef, Australia. © WWF / Natl. Archives of AustraliaDoha, Qatar:  For the second year in a row, the World Heritage Committee has told Australia to better protect the Great Barrier Reef and address threats from port development, dredging and dumping. 

"The World Heritage Committee has resisted intense pressure from the Australian and Queensland Governments to water down its decision on the Reef," said WWF-Australia Reef campaigner Richard Leck.

"Instead, the Committee has put Australia firmly on notice to take stronger action to protect the Great Barrier Reef"

"This is a victory for the millions around the world who say our Reef is not a dump"

At its annual meeting (held this year in Doha) the World Heritage Committee decision:

•Kept alive the threat to list the Great Barrier Reef as "world heritage in danger" in 2015
•Expressed concern and regret over the government's decision to allow the dumping of 3 million cubic metres of dredge spoil in Reef waters at Abbot Point (despite the Australian Government's attempts to have those words removed)
•Indicated that the handover of federal environmental approval powers to the Queensland Government is premature

"The Australian and Queensland Governments must take responsibility, lift their game and improve management of the Reef," Mr Leck said.

"If not they face the shame of having the Reef declared "world heritage in danger" in 2015, putting at risk thousands of tourism jobs.

"Australia has clearly not lived up to the standards expected by the international community when it comes to protecting the Reef."

The World Heritage Committee is holding its annual meeting in Doha, Qatar this week and for the third year in a row the issue of Australia's poor record in managing industrial port developments along the Reef coast has been on the agenda.

"It's clear that Australia must take concrete action, not just churn out more plans and reports, if we are to avoid seeing the Reef listed as 'in-danger' when the World Heritage Committee meets again in Germany this time next year," Mr Leck said.

"The first step must be to immediately ban the dumping of dredge spoil in the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area. Dredging and dumping for new port developments pollutes Reef waters, and the majority of Australians want to see an end to this out-dated practice."

"We're also calling for the protection of undeveloped high conservation value areas, such as the Fitzroy Delta and Cape York, by excluding port development," he said.

WWF-Australia contact: Mark Symons Senior Media Officer msymons@wwf.org.au
 
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Date: Wednesday, 18 Jun 2014 00:00
Red coral, Great barrier reef, Australia. © WWF / Natl. Archives of AustraliaDoha, Qatar:  For the second year in a row, the World Heritage Committee has told Australia to better protect the Great Barrier Reef and address threats from port development, dredging and dumping. 

"The World Heritage Committee has resisted intense pressure from the Australian and Queensland Governments to water down its decision on the Reef," said WWF-Australia Reef campaigner Richard Leck.

"Instead, the Committee has put Australia firmly on notice to take stronger action to protect the Great Barrier Reef"

"This is a victory for the millions around the world who say our Reef is not a dump"

At its annual meeting (held this year in Doha) the World Heritage Committee decision:

•Kept alive the threat to list the Great Barrier Reef as "world heritage in danger" in 2015
•Expressed concern and regret over the government's decision to allow the dumping of 3 million cubic metres of dredge spoil in Reef waters at Abbot Point (despite the Australian Government's attempts to have those words removed)
•Indicated that the handover of federal environmental approval powers to the Queensland Government is premature

"The Australian and Queensland Governments must take responsibility, lift their game and improve management of the Reef," Mr Leck said.

"If not they face the shame of having the Reef declared "world heritage in danger" in 2015, putting at risk thousands of tourism jobs.

"Australia has clearly not lived up to the standards expected by the international community when it comes to protecting the Reef."

The World Heritage Committee is holding its annual meeting in Doha, Qatar this week and for the third year in a row the issue of Australia's poor record in managing industrial port developments along the Reef coast has been on the agenda.

"It's clear that Australia must take concrete action, not just churn out more plans and reports, if we are to avoid seeing the Reef listed as 'in-danger' when the World Heritage Committee meets again in Germany this time next year," Mr Leck said.

"The first step must be to immediately ban the dumping of dredge spoil in the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area. Dredging and dumping for new port developments pollutes Reef waters, and the majority of Australians want to see an end to this out-dated practice."

"We're also calling for the protection of undeveloped high conservation value areas, such as the Fitzroy Delta and Cape York, by excluding port development," he said.

WWF-Australia contact: Mark Symons Senior Media Officer msymons@wwf.org.au
 
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Date: Tuesday, 17 Jun 2014 00:00
Virunga is Africa's oldest national park and one of the continent's first World Heritage Sites. © Brent Stirton / Reportage by Getty Images / WWF - CanonDoha, Qatar – A group of 21 countries tasked by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to implement the World Heritage Convention today has issued a call to Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) to end the prospect of oil exploitation in Virunga National Park. In an official decision, the World Heritage Committee said that it "reiterates its request to the state party to cancel all the oil exploitation permits granted within the property."

The decision comes just days after Soco International PLC, the only oil company exploring in Virunga, pledged to conclude its commercial operations there and to remain out of all other World Heritage Sites. Oil emerged as a threat to the park in 2006 when 85 per cent of its territory was allocated as oil concessions. WWF has cautioned that oil extraction could be devastating to Virunga's ecosystems, and would endanger the welfare of over 50,000 families that rely on the park's resources.

In its decision, the committee also "reiterated its position that oil, gas and mineral exploration and exploitation are incompatible with World Heritage status" globally, and urged all oil companies to commit not to explore or exploit in any World Heritage Sites. Since 2003, UNESCO has held that such activities are incompatible with the spirit of the World Heritage Convention, to which 191 UN member states, including DRC, ascribe.

"Today's decision underscores that UNESCO remains firm in its conviction that oil threatens Virunga's outstanding universal value," said Zach Abraham, WWF International's Director of Global Campaigns. "Because Soco has committed not to drill in Virunga without UNESCO's consent, we expect the company's activities there to come to an end as planned."

Virunga is one of many World Heritage Sites coming under pressure as the world's natural resources become scarcer. WWF and its partners will continue to advocate with governments and companies around the globe until the threats that jeopardize these precious places are removed and their integrity is secure.

"Virunga was recognized in 1979 for being a place of outstanding universal value to all humanity. Less than one per cent of Earth's land has been bestowed with this status," Abraham said. "As long as concessions exist, Virunga's current and potential future value is at risk. But free from the threat of oil, and with proper investment, the park can continue to be a source of hope for the people of DRC."

WWF remains concerned about the safety of those who have spoken out against oil exploration in Virunga National Park. Serious allegations have been reported by local activists, and the organization's own staff members have received death threats. WWF requests that all allegations be investigated thoroughly by relevant DRC authorities and that perpetrators be brought to justice.
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Date: Tuesday, 17 Jun 2014 00:00
Virunga is Africa's oldest national park and one of the continent's first World Heritage Sites. © Brent Stirton / Reportage by Getty Images / WWF - CanonDoha, Qatar – A group of 21 countries tasked by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to implement the World Heritage Convention today has issued a call to Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) to end the prospect of oil exploitation in Virunga National Park. In an official decision, the World Heritage Committee said that it "reiterates its request to the state party to cancel all the oil exploitation permits granted within the property."

The decision comes just days after Soco International PLC, the only oil company exploring in Virunga, pledged to conclude its commercial operations there and to remain out of all other World Heritage Sites. Oil emerged as a threat to the park in 2006 when 85 per cent of its territory was allocated as oil concessions. WWF has cautioned that oil extraction could be devastating to Virunga's ecosystems, and would endanger the welfare of over 50,000 families that rely on the park's resources.

In its decision, the committee also "reiterated its position that oil, gas and mineral exploration and exploitation are incompatible with World Heritage status" globally, and urged all oil companies to commit not to explore or exploit in any World Heritage Sites. Since 2003, UNESCO has held that such activities are incompatible with the spirit of the World Heritage Convention, to which 191 UN member states, including DRC, ascribe.

"Today's decision underscores that UNESCO remains firm in its conviction that oil threatens Virunga's outstanding universal value," said Zach Abraham, WWF International's Director of Global Campaigns. "Because Soco has committed not to drill in Virunga without UNESCO's consent, we expect the company's activities there to come to an end as planned."

Virunga is one of many World Heritage Sites coming under pressure as the world's natural resources become scarcer. WWF and its partners will continue to advocate with governments and companies around the globe until the threats that jeopardize these precious places are removed and their integrity is secure.

"Virunga was recognized in 1979 for being a place of outstanding universal value to all humanity. Less than one per cent of Earth's land has been bestowed with this status," Abraham said. "As long as concessions exist, Virunga's current and potential future value is at risk. But free from the threat of oil, and with proper investment, the park can continue to be a source of hope for the people of DRC."

WWF remains concerned about the safety of those who have spoken out against oil exploration in Virunga National Park. Serious allegations have been reported by local activists, and the organization's own staff members have received death threats. WWF requests that all allegations be investigated thoroughly by relevant DRC authorities and that perpetrators be brought to justice.
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Date: Tuesday, 17 Jun 2014 00:00
No need to flush natural forests © Kurt PrinzGland, Switzerland. Starting today, more than 100 civil society groups including WWF will be promoting a Global Paper Vision that addresses climate change, human rights and new expectations for corporate transparency.

The vision is the product of more than a year's consultations under the umbrella of the Environmental Paper Network . A key launch activity for the vision is a global conversation about how paper can present powerful opportunities to protect our air, water, forests climate, and communities, under the twitter hashtag #whatsinyourpaper.

"Paper is such an everyday product that it offers numerous pathways into promoting a fairer, more sustainable use of natural resources in practical ways," said Emmanuelle Neyroumande, Pulp and Paper Global Manager at WWF International, "The Global Paper Vision sets out aspirations that can – and should be - picked up by policy makers, producers and paper users."

Major elements of the Vision include reducing global paper consumption and promoting fair access to paper, maximising the content of recycled fibres, responsible sourcing of fibre, clean production and reduced greenhouse gas emissions along with a suite of measures to enhance the transparency and social responsibility of paper production and consumption.

WWF's work on paper

WWF supports this vision and offers practical solutions for companies and individuals who are looking for responsible ways of sourcing paper. WWF paper tools, Check Your Paper and the Environmental Paper Company Index improve transparency of the paper sector by telling the ecological footprint of paper making. Also, WWF works together with the paper industry towards greener business practices though initiatives such as The Global Forest &Trade; Network, and the New Generations Plantations platform and the partnership with Mondi


Contact:

Emmanuelle Neyroumande, Pulp and Paper Global Manager, WWF International
+33 6 62 10 74 78

About WWF
WWF is one of the world's largest and most respected independent conservation organizations, with more than 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.www.panda.org/media for latest news and media resources
 
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