World Wildlife Fund

views updated May 17 2018

World Wildlife Fund


By: Anonymous

Date: August 12, 2004

Source: Getty Images

About the Photographer: Based in Seattle, Washington, Getty Images contains an archive of over two million photographs available for publishers of electronic and print media around the world.


Life on Earth is interdependent. This means that the survival of the human race depends on the natural environment, and the survival of nature depends on the way humans act. For many years now, people have interfered with the balance of nature. This has led to the extinction of a large number of species of the world's wildlife, and placed many on the endangered list.

Human activity impacts the environment in a number of ways. Agricultural needs lead to deforestation, soil degeneration, and accumulation of toxic chemicals. Industrial development since the nineteenth century has led to an increase in carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. This resulted in an increase of global temperatures, as well as general chemical pollution of water, soil, and air. These changes, in turn, lead to alterations of climate on a local and global scale. Alterations include anomalies in weather patterns, severe droughts, abnormally high rainfalls, increased cyclone and storm activity, and recession of glaciers worldwide.

The changes occurring in the natural habitat of plants and animals threaten the wildlife. Disappearance of arctic glaciers threatens polar bears, and logging of the rainforests affects the great apes—orangutans, gorillas, and chimpanzees. In addition to the devastation of the habitat, there is also fragmentation of natural habitats due to either logging for commerce or agriculture. Such changes make it harder for the animals to migrate and reproduce. Moreover, the disappearance of one species can lead to a chain reaction where other species dependent on it may also disappear.

Another threat to wildlife is the introduction of non-native species. Foreign species may have no natural predators in a new area and can take over the habitat, pushing native species out. The best known example of this is the introduction of cane toads in Australia.

All these threats to wildlife led to the foundation of a number of various wildlife and conservation societies. These organizations mainly protected single species, such as turtles, tigers, elephants, pandas, and others. There was, however, the lack of a more global approach until the foundation of World Wildlife Fund in the mid-1900s. Since then, the organization has grown to a worldwide network of regional organizations in over one hundred countries.

The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) was founded on September 11, 1961, by Julian Huxley, Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands, Max Nicholson, Guy Mountford, and Sir Peter Scott. Its original logo, the black-and-white panda, was created by Peter Scott (1909–1989), an ornithologist, conservationist, and painter. Before co-founding the WWF, he founded the Severn Wildfowl Trust in 1948. In 1982, he founded the Wildscreen Festival, which every two years showcases films about the natural world. Peter Scott made numerous television appearances as an ornithologist, popularizing wildfowl. He was also a vice-president of the British Naturalist's Association and an award in his name was instituted after his death.



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The first WWF advertising campaign featuring a poster with a black-and-white panda appeared in 1961, and became the official poster of the newly founded organization. Hands surrounding the panda symbolized that human intervention is important in saving wildlife and that the future of wildlife is in our hands. This has extra significance as the human hand led to the destruction of many species and yet it is humans who must find the remedy. The logo of the organization remains a panda, and is fitting, as the panda is one of the most endangered species on the planet. In the years since the original poster, additional campaigns have featured plush animal manufacturers making animals with the WWF logo available for purchase in stores, with a percentage of the sales donated to the World Wildlife Fund. The goal of the WWF organization is to achieve harmony between people and nature. In order to achieve its goals, the WWF focuses on selected areas and works with local communities, governments, and businesses.

The initial focus of the WWF in the 1960s and 1970s was species conservation. It has launched programs like Project Tiger in India and Save the Rhino. The organization was funding conservation projects with small grants in the 1960s. The situation changed in 1970 after the establishment of A Nature Trust. This fund supports not only grants but also administration of the WWF.

During the 1980s, the WWF became involved with United Nations Environmental Program. This meant that the focus of the organization became wider than just wildlife protection. It now aimed at environmental protection and conservation of the natural environment in general as well. These new goals also led to a change in the name of the organization to World Wide Fund for Nature. The original name, however, was retained in North America.

Since 1990, it has become clear that effective wildlife protection is not just the protection of a single species but the protection of biodiversity. Therefore, considerable effort is now placed by WWF and other organizations on protecting entire biosystems such as oceans, rivers, and lakes, and to stop deforestation. Part of this action was the recognition of eco-regions. The Global 200 project identified 238 regions in the world consisting of all of the climatic regions. They include terrestrial, freshwater, and marine environments. Each eco-region is unique, contains distinct species and environmental conditions, and has an important role in sustaining global biodiversity. In contrast to reserves and national parks, the boundaries of these regions are not fixed.

A unique challenge for conservationists is presented by illegal trade in wildlife. The collaboration between the WWF and the World Conservation Union (IUCN) resulted in the establishment of a new organization—Trade Records Analysis of Fauna and Flora in Commerce (TRAFFIC)—in 1976 to monitor trade in wildlife. TRAFFIC mainly monitors priority species that are hunted for commercial purposes, such as elephants, tigers, rhinos, and marine turtles.

The future of wildlife conservation is dependent on the ability to educate people about the necessity of protecting the environment in general, maintaining biodiversity, and protecting individual species. WWF education programs address these goals: some are aimed at children through the Eco-Schools Project, while others are specific projects aimed at business, industry, agriculture, and local governments. These activities come in the form of special educational courses for the purpose of recognizing and developing management strategies that will consider environmental impact as well as risks associated with industry.

Saving wildlife is a complex process, and human involvement is very important for the success of that process. There is a necessity for improved legislation worldwide to prevent the predicted disappearance of 20 percent of the world's species in the next thirty years. This can be assisted by the involvement of as many people as possible in local and global conservation projects.


Web sites

IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. 〈〉 (accessed March 14, 2006).

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. 〈〉 (accessed March 14, 2006).

WildAid〈〉 (accessed March 14, 2006).

Wildlife Protection Network. 〈〉 (accessed March 14, 2006).

The Wildlife Trusts. 〈〉 (accessed March 14, 2006).

The World Conservation Union. 〈〉 (accessed March 14, 2006).

World Wildlife Fund. 〈〉 (accessed March 14, 2006).

World Wildlife Fund

views updated May 29 2018

World Wildlife Fund

The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) is an international conservation organization founded in 1961, and known internationally as the World Wide Fund for Nature. The World Wildlife Fund acts with other U.S. organizations in a network to conserve the natural environment and ecological processes essential to life. Particular attention is paid to endangered species and to natural habitats important for human welfare. In hundreds of projects conducted or supported around the world, WWF helps protect endangered wildlife and habitats and helps protect the earth's biodiversity through fieldwork, scientific research, institutional development, wildlife trade monitoring, public policy initiatives, technical assistance and training, environmental education , and communications.

WWF has articulated nine goals that guide its work:

  • to protect habitat
  • to protect individual species
  • to promote ecologically sound development
  • to support scientific investigation
  • to promote education in developing countries
  • to provide training for local wildlife professionals
  • to encourage self-sufficiency in developing countries
  • to monitor international wildlife trade
  • to influence public opinion and the policies of governments and private institutions

Toward these goals, WWF monitors international trade in wild plants and animals through its TRAFFIC (Trade Records Analysis of Flora and Fauna in Commerce) program, part of an international network in cooperation with IUCNThe World Conservation Union . TRAFFIC focuses on the trade regulations of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), tracking and reporting on traded wildlife species; helping governments comply with CITES provisions; developing training materials and enforcement tools for wildlife-trade enforcement officers; pressing for stronger enforcement under national wildlife trade laws; and seeking protection for newly threatened species.

Other recent WWF projects have included programs to save the African elephant, especially through banning ivory imports under CITES legislation. The organization also has undertaken projects to preserve tropical rain forests; to identify conservation priorities in the earth's biogeographical regions; to halt overexploitation of renewable resources; and to create new parks and wildlife preserves to conserve species before they become endangered or threatened. Based on WWF's conservation efforts, The Charles Darwin Foundation for the Galapagos Islands awarded WWF an institutional seat on their Board of Directors.

WWF also funded a study of more than 2,000 projects or activities reviewed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service between 1986 and 1991. The study found that only 18 of these projects were blocked or withdrawn because of detrimental effects to human populations. The study also showed that the Northwest lost more timber jobs to automation of timber cutting and milling, increased exports of raw logs, and a shift of the industry to the Southeastern United States, than it may lose from the listing of the northern spotted owl (Strix occidentalis caurina ) as an endangered species.

WWF has been credited with saving some 30 endangered animal species from extinction , most notably the giant panda , which has become the group's logo. Using Geographic Information Systems satellite technology, WWF has identified regions where conservation of distinct animal and plant species are most needed. By overlaying these areas with existing parks and projects, WWF is able to see where it needs to concentrate conservation programs. The organization publishes a wide variety of materials, including the periodicals WWF Letter, TRAFFIC, and Tropical Forest Conservation. Booklets produced include "Speaker and News Media Sourcebook: A Guide to Experts in Domestic and International Environmental Issues," for news media, policymakers, and organizations. Educational materials, research papers, and books jointly published include The Gaia Atlas of Future Worlds: Challenge and Opportunity in an Age of Change (by Norman Myers); Options for Conservation: The Different Roles of Nongovernmental Conservation Organizations (by Sarah Fitzgerald); WWF Atlas of the Environment (By Geoffrey Lean, et al.); and The Official World Wildlife Fund Guide to Endangered Species of North America. In 1996 the WWF produced a nationwide environmental program, Windows on the Wild, for educators concerning the challenges of global conservation.

[Linda Rehkopf ]



World Wildlife Fund-U.S., 1250 12th Street, NW, Washington, D.C. USA 20037, <>

Worldwide Fund for Nature

views updated May 11 2018

Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF) International organization, established (1961) in Britain. Its headquarters are in Gland, Switzerland. It raises voluntary funds for the conservation of endangered wild animals, plants and places.

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