WWF to help Starbucks build better stores for the planet

WWF to help Starbucks build better stores for the planet

Imagine a future in which buildings are designed specifically to help the planet become a healthier place for all of us to live. That’s the vision WWF will help Starbucks achieve through the company’s new “Greener Stores” plan.

Announced last week at the Global Climate Action Summit in San Francisco, Starbucks has committed to design, build and operate 10,000 Greener Stores globally by 2025. But before Starbucks customers can step into a Greener Store there’s some work to be done—and that’s where WWF is getting involved.

Over the next year, WWF will work closely with Starbucks and a team of experts from Green Business Certification, Inc.—an organization that independently certifies environmentally friendly buildings—to develop a plan that not only sets a new standard for sustainable practices in stores, but also ensures new Starbucks stores will be built and operated in a way that significantly reduces environmental impacts.

Collectively our partnership will develop a plan that protects the future health of our natural resources and provides an open-sourced road map to the entire retail industry to make similar advancements—a win-win for both business and nature.

“When companies step up and demonstrate leadership, other businesses often follow with commitments of their own, driving further positive impacts,” said Erin Simon, director, research and development, WWF.

As market demand for food increases, so too does the impact on natural resources and important wildlife habitat. WWF recognizes the enormous potential to improve how we produce food and other products—all while creating opportunities for business.

“We know that designing and building green stores is not only responsible, it is cost effective as well,” said Kevin Johnson, president and CEO of Starbucks. “The energy and passion of our green apron partners has inspired us to find ways to operate a greener store that will generate even greater cost savings while reducing impact.” 

Learn more about WWF’s work to transform business.

Published September 20, 2018 at 05:00AM

In central Sumatra, the Talang Mamak people work to build a sustainable honey business and protect precious forests

In central Sumatra, the Talang Mamak people work to build a sustainable honey business and protect precious forests

Around 10pm one night in October 2017, in the rain forests of central Sumatra, Feri grabs a hammer, loops it over his shoulder, and scales a tree so massive it makes him look the size of a squirrel. The ladder he’s using is a chain of bamboo poles lashed to wooden pegs. Flashlights from the ground cocoon his figure in light as he reaches the uppermost pole, whacks a new peg into the trunk, and waits for another climber to carry up the next length of bamboo.

The tree, in Feri’s language, is a sialang, meaning “big tree with honey.” He and three other climbers—who belong to a community of indigenous Talang Mamak people—have been building the ladder for hours. Once it reaches the bees’ nests hanging from the sialang’s branches, they’ll use a smoking torch to drive out any bees.

The Talang Mamak have been harvesting honey and a host of other natural products from these forests, located in a region known as Thirty Hills, for generations. But they just began collaborating with a PT Alam Bukit 30 (ABT), a new business aiming to help them improve their production and profits--while also keeping the trees standing.

The company was launched in 2015 by WWF-Indonesia, the Frankfurt Zoological Society and The Orangutan Project to protect a large forest concession of land in Thirty Hills. A pulp and paper company had been trying to acquire and clear the concession for plantations, but ABT won the license to it as an “ecosystem restoration concession.” Now, the company is working with local communities there to create a sustainable business plan to create revenue from the intact forest, from everything from sialang honey and rubber to rugs, baskets, and other handicrafts made from rattan and bamboo.

Some of those communities, like Feri’s, live inside ABT’s concession. While they don’t legally own their land, they have deep roots in Thirty Hills. “We believe this forest is ancient, and that it is a family member of the Talang Mamak,” says Fahmi, the head of Feri’s village. ABT wants the indigenous communities to stay in the concession and prosper from its sustainable production model.

Other settlements, like the village of Suo Suo, lie just outside the concession’s boundaries. “We were already making these products before,” says Adnan, a 69-year-old Suo Suo resident, sitting cross-legged in one of the village houses as she works a new strand of bamboo into a woven basket. “But ABT can help us sell them to bigger markets so we can make more income.”

Eventually, the local communities partnering with the company will be invited to become shareholders in it--an uncommon move for a company in Sumatra. “These communities are used to being marginalized,” says Jan Vertefeuille, who leads wildlife conservation advocacy for WWF-US and helped realize the creation of the ABT concession. “Usually, if a pulp and paper or rubber or palm oil comes in, the local communities can’t tell them to leave because they don’t have land tenure.”

Not all of the villages in Thirty Hills are convinced yet that ABT is a company they can trust. But Anto, who lives in Feri’s village, says most of the people there have decided to give the partnership with the company a try.

“We initially rejected ABT because we weren’t aware of what it was and how it was supposed to help local people,” he says. “But now, 85% of the village supports it. We need a change, a good change. We need to improve our livelihoods. Having a partnership with ABT can help us have a better life.”

Published September 20, 2018 at 05:00AM

How to standup paddle board—and help wildlife at the same time

How to standup paddle board—and help wildlife at the same time

Standup paddle boarding promises a unique and harmonious way to explore our planets rivers, lakes, oceans, and more. And while the sport may intimidate first timers, it becomes far less daunting with a few quick tips and tricks in mind.

Former professional standup paddle boarder Anthony Vela offers some insight to get newbies started.

The best part? Once you’ve got the hang of it, you can use your new standup paddle skills to fundraise for the wildlife and wild places that you love. Enjoy a day on the water with other paddlers—beginners, pros, and everyone in between—at WWF’s Panda Paddle, sponsored by Target, on Oct. 20 at Bonita Cove in San Diego.

Take a look!

1. Take a lesson
This may seem like a no-brainer, but it’s worth highlighting again. A certified instructor can offer you simple instructions that will make your first time on a standup paddle board successful—and more fun. Many accredited businesses that rent out the equipment you need to get started also offer lessons; the key is to confirm that the instructor went through a training and certification process before heading out on the water.

2. Use the right equipment
One of the reasons standup paddle boarding is such a fast-growing sport is that anyone can do it, anywhere there is water. Just remember that the equipment is not one-size-fits-all. Boards and paddles come in a variety of shapes and sizes, and you need to choose the right ones. Think of it like riding a bike—an adult would struggle to ride a child’s bike, and vice versa. Wider boards provide stability and work well for beginners, while narrower boards require precise balance and move faster. A certified instructor from an accredited business can match you with the right equipment.

Here’s a tip for SUP success

Getting started on the board starts with using the right equipment.

Posted by World Wildlife Fund on Friday, September 14, 2018

3. Learn in flat water
The easiest place to paddle is in calm, flat water. Lakes, bays, and harbors are best because there are no waves, currents, or other factors that make the water choppy. Mornings are usually the best time to paddle because there’s typically less wind. You will have much more fun in water that looks like a sheet of glass—nice and smooth. As you improve your paddling skills, waves, wind, and even currents in rivers can add excitement. 

4. Have fun
Lastly, keep in mind that it is scientifically proven that you have 80% more balance when you are smiling. (Okay, maybe we made that part up.) But it is true that you don’t need to be an expert standup paddle boarder to have a great time on the water. Falling off and getting back up again is A-Okay and all part of the fun!

5. Paddle for wildlife
There’s no better time to practice standup paddling than at WWF’s Panda Paddle! Panda Paddle blends a world-class standup paddle boarding competition with a world-changing cause: protecting the natural world. Whether you’re just starting out or already an expert paddler, Panda Paddle is a great way to hone your skills while protecting and preserving nature.

Join us Saturday, Oct. 20, at Bonita Cove in San Diego for WWF’s Panda Paddle!

Published September 20, 2018 at 05:00AM

In Mozambique, banning fishing leads to a bigger catch

In Mozambique, banning fishing leads to a bigger catch

It’s still early in the morning as our small boat speeds across a sea of brilliantly blue water. Bouts of pounding rain have kept us on shore in the city of Angoche for days, but with clearer clear skies and calmer seas, our small group—a team of researchers and conservationists from WWF and CARE—can finally make its way to Pulizica, a small fishing community in Mozambique’s Primeiras e Segundas archipelago.

Pulizica is home to the newest fish sanctuary established by the WWF-CARE Alliance, a global partnership to address the root causes of poverty and environmental degradation, and today we’re seeing how well the protected area is recovering declining fish stocks in the region. As one of three community-governed, no-take fishing zones in the area, the Pulizica sanctuary is part of larger efforts by the Alliance to improve local livelihoods by helping communities better manage their natural resources.

Spanning 4,020 square miles, Premeiras e Segundas is a coastal marine reserve comprised of 10 barrier islands, mangrove forests, coastal estuaries, coral reef complexes, and seagrass beds—all of which support an astonishing array of species. Mozambique’s largest concentration of endangered green, hawksbill, and olive ridley turtles swim in these waters, alongside everything from tropical fish to dugongs.

And the 340,000 people who live in the region are intimately tied to the land and sea as well; about two-thirds of households depend on the archipelago’s diverse fisheries for food and income.

Unfortunately, once plentiful fish stocks in Premeiras e Segundas have declined rapidly in the last decade, largely due to overfishing and poorly managed resources. Coastal communities are now plagued by increasingly unreliable sources of income and chronic food insecurity, putting already strained marine ecosystems under even more pressure.

The no-fishing paradox

The idea of not fishing to catch more fish seems contradictory. But when done right, no-take zones—areas in which people cannot fish—can help recover ocean life. Such sanctuaries protect fragile reefs and prevent fishers from hauling in the wrong species of fish or fish that are too young, giving fisheries the chance to repopulate and grow.

And it works. In Pulizica, the abundance and size of fish in the no-take zone greatly increased, and the diversity of species tripled.

Local fishers support the sanctuaries, too. At least 10 boats sit just outside the zone as we pass by, waiting for the falling tide to bring fish swimming into their nets, which was once an unthinkable occurrence.

We stop to chat with the community monitors who ensure that no one fishes illegally. One says he spotted dolphins in the estuary for the first time in years—a sign that recovering fish stocks are again abundant enough to attract larger predators.

These conversations are good reminders that community-protected, no-take zones aren’t just effective conservation tools; they’re also learning tools that help people understand that better ecosystem management can improve their lives, and that their actions make a difference.

Word about the success of fish sanctuaries has spread along the coastline, and WWF and CARE are now collaborating with the Mozambican government and local communities to enforce no-take zones in the coral reef ringing the Primeiras e Segundas islands. With the help of fishers who have seen these sanctuaries succeed, we’re showing that choosing not to fish—and turning to farming or other alternatives for income instead—can benefit both people and wildlife. Their voices and actions can drive change and ensure the survival of this unique and vital place.

Published September 11, 2018 at 05:00AM

Musician Tristan Prettyman to headline at Panda Paddle

Musician Tristan Prettyman to headline at Panda Paddle

Local San Diego singer-songwriter, Tristan Prettyman, has joined forces with WWF to perform at their upcoming fundraiser Panda Paddle at Bonita Cove, San Diego on Oct. 20, 2018.  

Panda Paddle, WWF’s first-ever athletic fundraising event, blends a world-class stand-up paddleboard competition with a world-changing cause—protecting the natural world and all it gives us.  

When describing her passion for nature and desire to support WWF, Tristan quotes environmentalist John Muir: ‘“The clearest way into the Universe is through the forest wilderness,’ says Muir. For me, any excuse to get outside in nature is a good enough reason for me. I am honored and extremely excited to join forces with WWF for the upcoming Panda Paddle in my hometown of San Diego. It's going to be great day, spent outside in the So-Cal sunshine. I cannot wait!  Please come out and join us!”  

Want to see Tristan perform? Be the paddler nature needs by signing up for Panda Paddle. Not able to paddle? That’s okay! The performance is open to all residents who come out in support of WWF.  Tristan’s performance is scheduled to occur after the paddle boarding races are complete in the afternoon on Oct. 20 at Bonita Cove in San Diego.  

Join us at Panda Paddle!

Panda Paddle blends a world-class stand-up paddleboard competition with a world-changing cause: keep nature in balance for people and wildlife.

Sign up today

Published September 03, 2018 at 05:00AM

The next Dust Bowl? Great Plains grassland loss slows overall, but rises in South Dakota

The next Dust Bowl? Great Plains grassland loss slows overall, but rises in South Dakota

In the mid-to-late 1930s, the Great Plains and its inhabitants were plagued with massive waves of dust and sand that blotted out the sun, destroyed crops and livestock, covered homes, and made life nearly impossible for a population already struggling to survive in the era of the Great Depression. As shallow-rooted crops replaced the grasslands of this arid region, “black blizzards” of sediment arose, blanketing everything in their path for nearly 10 years.

Since then, we've learned a lot about what it takes to live in this expansive landscape. We now understand that native grassland plants have incredibly deep roots that hold soil in place, help to store water, and filter the air. They are specially adapted to hold this habitat together in ways that most crops cannot. And though immensely resilient, grasslands also require a delicate balance of grazing that mimics the behavior of native animals such as bison, an understanding of soil, and the ability to read and adapt to changing weather.

The Dust Bowl is held up as one of those historical events that are so tragic in their scope that we use them as an example of mistakes we should never repeat. Unfortunately, WWF’s latest annual study of the extent and impact of conversion of grasslands to croplands reveals that though such activity generally declined across the Great Plains in 2017, it has nearly doubled in South Dakota within the same time span. The 2018 Plowprint Report shows that approximately 58,000 acres of grasslands were plowed up in the Northern Great Plains portion of the state last year. And the hardest hit areas in South Dakota are among the very same as those decimated by the Dust Bowl.

WWF is working with private landowners in the ranching community to slow grassland loss. As Rex Johnson of the South Dakota Grassland Coalition says:

“Well-managed grasslands are essential to the ecological and economic health of states in the Great Plains. A healthy grassland ecosystem builds soils with high organic matter to provide drought protection, supports a diverse communities of plant life, abundant wildlife, reduces runoff, and dramatically improves the quality of the water reaching our rivers, streams and lakes."

Learn more about the 2018 Plowprint Report and what WWF and its partners are doing to fight for the future of North America’s grasslands.

Published August 28, 2018 at 05:00AM

Seven unsung ecosystems we need to survive

Seven unsung ecosystems we need to survive

They may not be household names, like the Amazon rainforest or the Great Barrier Reef. But these forests, grasslands, savannas, and other ecosystems are just as vital to the health of our planet. They support an incredible range of plants and animals, as well as millions of people and their communities.

They also play a critical role in fighting climate change, helping regulate the Earth’s temperature and natural cycles by pulling harmful, heat-trapping CO2 out of the atmosphere. Explore some of the lesser-known ecosystems that do so much to keep our planet livable.


Cerrado savanna

When it comes to forests, the Amazon rainforest usually grabs the spotlight. But the nearby Cerrado, a wooded grassland covering more than 20% of Brazil, is equally important. It’s the world’s most biodiverse savanna, home to an astonishing 5% of the Earth’s plants and animals. Jaguars, giant anteaters, maned wolves, and armadillos live within this ecosystem, which also provides essential services to local communities and stores immense amounts of carbon in the ground.

In recent decades, agircultural expansion for beef and soy production has driven rapid deforestation across the region. As grasslands are plowed up, they release an estimated 250 million tons of greenhouse gases annually—the equivalent of burning 28 billion gallons of gasoline.

WWF partners with some of the world’s largest food companies, as well as local farmers, to halt deforestation in the Cerrado and to promote sustainable soy production.


Miombo woodlands

Elephants, rhinos, giraffes, zebras and other wildlife roam the Miombo woodlands, which cover much of central and southern Africa. This unique ecosystem, named for the area’s many “miombo” trees, is about twice the size of Alaska and is made up of tropical grasslands, savannas, and shrublands. Although the Miombo is still relatively intact and sparsely settled, these natural woodlands are increasingly threatened by development for agriculture, ranching, and charcoal production.

When trees are cleared and burned, carbon is released into the atmosphere and the land is less able to re-absorb greenhouse gases. WWF is working to conserve these important woodlands and help local communities use their natural resources more sustainably.


Amur-Heilong landscape

Straddling the border of China and Russia, the Amur-Heilong is one of the most biologically diverse temperate forests in the world. About the size of Texas, this mixed woodland-grassland landscape is home to the world’s most endangered large cat, the Amur leopard, as well as a population of endangered Amur tigers. In addition to harboring a remarkable variety of plant and animal species, the landscape includes the 380-million-acre watershed of the Amur River—the longest undammed river in the Eastern Hemisphere.

But this landscape now faces mounting pressures from deforestation and infrastructure development, which pose huge threats to local wildlife and their environment. Throughout the Amur-Heilong, WWF helps to protect species by connecting important wildlife corridors and safeguarding essential habitat against illegal logging and other destructive activities.


Greater Mekong region

Few places on earth are as biodiverse or ecologically important as the Greater Mekong region. Stretching from the Tibetan plateau to the shores of Vietnam, this spectacular ecosystem features an abundance of rare wildlife, mangrove forests that protect coastal communities, and the largest combined tiger habitat in the world. It also supports the world’s largest inland fishery, an essential source of food and income for the river basin's 70 million people.

In the last 50 years, though, the Greater Mekong region has lost more than a third of its forests due to agricultural expansion and economic development. Fewer than 250 million acres of the region’s forest now remain, while tens of millions of additional acres are projected to disappear by 2030. The region’s fragile river systems are also severely threatened by infrastructure projects, such as dams for hydropower, which could devastate freshwater species and the communities that rely on rivers to live.

Along with governments and communities, we support the sustainable use of land and freshwater resources across the Greater Mekong while spearheading efforts to protect its rich biodiversity.


New Guinea’s forests

After the Amazon and Congo, the rainforests of New Guinea are the third-largest in the world. The island covers less than 1% of the planet’s land area but contains at least 5% of its species, many of which are only found there. These include kangaroos adapted to climb trees, giant pigeons, and more species of orchid than anywhere else on Earth. While much of New Guinea’s forests are still intact, the expanding production of crops like cocoa, coffee, and palm oil could drive the loss of 17 million acres of forest by 2030.

To prevent unsustainable agricultural practices and to combat illegal logging, WWF collaborates with indigenous peoples in New Guinea and helps companies achieve FSC certification, ensuring that forests are managed responsibly and that important habitats are conserved for future generations.


Forests of eastern Australia

Though Australia is mostly desert, the tropical and temperate forests, savannas, and shrublands along the country’s eastern coast are some of the most biologically diverse regions on Earth, with thousands of plant species and more than 150 species of mammals, amphibians, reptiles, and birds found nowhere else.

Unfortunately, the continent’s forests are now being cleared at a rapid pace for livestock and agriculture, making it one of the world’s most at-risk deforestation fronts. But that’s not just bad news for trees. When trees and other vegetation are removed, sediment, fertilizer, and pesticides run off into the nearby Great Barrier Reef, where they smother coral reefs and pollute fragile marine ecosystems. Land-clearing also drives climate change, leading to rising ocean temperatures and coral bleaching.

In Australia, WWF is working to increase native forest cover and protect threatened species by advocating for stronger laws against excessive land-clearing, in addition to championing grater protections for the Great Barrier Reef.


Northern Great Plains

Two hundred years ago, as many as 60 million bison roamed America’s plains—along with pronghorn, black-footed ferrets, swift foxes, and a vast array of birds. As pioneers moved west in the 19th and early 20th centuries, however, hundreds of millions of acres of the country’s natural grasslands were converted for cropland, infrastructure, and living space.

Today, this landscape continues to lose ground. In recent years, the Northern Great Plains have lost more natural habitat than the Brazilian Amazon, emitting greenhouse gases equivalent to more than 100 million cars on the road each year. To keep this fragile prairie ecoregion intact, WWF works hand-in-hand with ranchers, farmers, and tribal nations to encourage sustainable land management, restore native species, and to protect the region’s natural and cultural heritage.


Published August 30, 2018 at 05:00AM


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