Species

Species are disappearing...

Species are threatened in every habitat on every continent. In the time it takes you to read this information, one of our planet’s unique species will become extinct. By this time tomorrow, a further 150–200 will have disappeared forever. And by this time next year, over 50,000 more.
This alarming rate of extinction is 100–1,000 times greater than the expected natural rate. One in four of the world’s mammals are now threatened with extinction in the near future. So are one in eight birds, one in five sharks, one in four coniferous trees, and one in three amphibians.

By and large, the cause of this decline is human activities. Every person on Earth — for living space; for food, clothing, housing, and fuel; through our purchases and vacations; and through the waste we produce — continues to destroy and pollute vast areas of natural habitat, massively overexploit wild animals and plants, introduce invasive alien species and diseases that displace or kill native species, and contribute towards human-induced climate change. With these activities continuing apace, the current rate of biodiversity loss is accelerating.

Mission

WWF Species Programme is committed to long-term action to address and reverse the current alarming trend of species declines and extinction — and at the same time, deliver broader conservation goals as well as social equity and improved livelihoods for the rural poor.

Goals

  • Increase and/or stabilize populations of flagship species and restore the integrity and connection of their entire habitat.
  • Mitigate threats tot target species and adapt their impacts.
  • Promote the national, regional, and/or international environment friendly policies and sustainable finance for species conservation incorporating into sustainable development and poverty reduction of local communities at national, provincial and/or regional levels.
  • Raise public awareness on endangered species and entire environment protection and consequently take actions in the daily life across China.

Strategies and Approaches

The best way to preserve species and biodiversity is to maintain an integrity and connection of their nature habitat and ecosystems at an ecoregional level. WWF has taken an ecoregion-based strategy and a sustainable development approach to secure an integrity and connection of species habitat to maintain a viable living population of species. WWF has prioritized 5 key ecoregions, the Upper Mekong Ecoregion, the Tibet Plateau, the Yangtze River Basin, the Yellow Sea Ecoregion, and the Amur-Heilong Ecoregion. Meanwhile, WF has targeted the flagship species as a role of umbrella to protect the entire biodiversity and ecosystems, such as Snow leopard, Giant panda and Finless porpoise in the source, upper, and central and lower areas of the Yangtze, respectively, Snow leopard in the Tibetan Plateau, Amur tiger and Amur leopard in Amur-Heilong Ecoregion, and Asian elephant in the Upper Mekong Ecoregion.

To further protect many less-known endangered species besides the ecoregions across China, WWF has practiced a small grant fund as a pioneering programme to set up a broader conservation network incorporating into local communities, NGOs, volunteers, and institutions for environment protection in their daily actions.

Top 5 Achievements

Giant Panda Protection Network for 3 Million Ha of Habitat

With the help of the Chinese government a giant panda protection Network is has been setup. This protection network consists of 62 nature reserves, and a couple of forest farms, migration corridors, and sustainably managed forests. It covers 57 per cent of giant panda habitat and 71 per cent of its population in the wild.

As a whole network at landscape level, the giant panda protection network is the first protected area network for wildlife in China, and has played a very important role in safeguarding a viable population of giant pandas and an integrity and connection of their habitat. With a location in the Upper Reaches of the Yangtze, this network has also benefited the protection of hundreds of other key animals and plants such as Golden monkey, Takin and Crest ibis, as well as the entire biodiversity in the ecosystems of forests, wetlands, rivers and lakes, and grassland, as well as hundreds of million people in this region.

Wetland and Dolphin Protection Network for 2 Million Ha of Habitat

Over the past nearly 10 years, cooperating with Chinese governments and relevant partners such as Coco-Cola Company and HSBC, 2 million hectares of wetland and dolphin protection network is protected in the central and lower areas of the Yangtze. This protection network consists of 39 nature reserves, wetland parks and some critical wetland and river protected recovering areas. WWF has been promoting the Yangtze wetland protection network by expanding to the Upper Reaches and the source areas of the Yangtze.

This wetland and dolphin protection network has consequently benefited to the flagship species of the Finless porpoise, and over 100 species of water birds, the Yangtze alligator, the Pere David’s deer as well as 200 million people living in this region. It is highly acclaimed by the SFA. The national wetland protection and management center of China has officially announced that they would like to jointly support this network, and hope to generalize the successes of this network throughout China.

Amur Tiger Habitat Identification and Conservation Action Plans

The Amur tiger habitat was identified along the Changbaishan and Wandashan Mountains, with a total of 218, 784.7 km2 including part of Russian Far East using three models for 6 data types and 20 factors and comparison between Russia and China. It planning report identified 9 tiger management zones, 12 key migration corridors for reconnection among the zones. This planning areas may sustainably support 100 to 120 tigers when recovered habitat and prey. The report also provides the strategies and approaches for a long-term recovery of tiger, habitat, and prey as well as the sustainable development of local communities.

As an overall guidance by this report, the protection and recovery action plans for tigers are developing at both provincial levels of Heilongjiang and Jilin as well as national level. It is promoting to establish a transboundary protection area between China and Russia.

A Less-known Endangered Species Protection Network along 24 Provinces across China

Over the past 10 years, cooperating with Novosymes, CEPF, Canon and Doubletree Hotel, WWF has established a less-known endangered species conservation network to protect more endangered species of mammals, birds, fish, reptile and amphibians besides the eco-regions along a sustainable implementation of a small grant fund across China. This network has covered 111 project sites across 24 provinces, consequently involving 10 protecting areas, 60 local communities, and 12 local NGOs and xx of volunteers.

The small grant fund plays a seeding role in involving local people, institutes and NGOs to expand the conservation impacts of “do-by-local” through project practices, education, establishing protection area and policy promotion.

Releasing A Biodiversity Review of China

In 1996, WWF published a major report of A Biodiversity Review of China to state the status and trends of China’s natural environment. As a result of seven-year collaboration between WWF and SFA, the Review provided a comprehensive analysis of China’s biodiversity and the threats it faces. It also provided a description of the major landforms, natural vegetation, land use, biogeography divisions, biological richness and endemism for each of China’s 30 provinces and autonomous regions. The Review has guided the strategies and approaches to conserve the species and biodiversity in China in these years.

Basic Facts

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    • There are over 385 threatened species in China (according to the IUCN Red List) Giant pandas lost half their habitat between 1974 and 1989.
    • In the past century, the world lost over 90% of its tiger population; in China, there are only about 90 tigers left in the wild.
    • Endangered species in China include the giant panda, Siberian tiger, Yangtze river dolphin, Asian elephant, golden monkey, black-necked crane, crested ibis plus many lesser-known species.

Key Threats

    • Habitat loss, fragmentation, and degradation because of human activities such as logging or mineral exploitation
    • Wildlife trade and the illegal hunting of species such as musk deer and bears, whose body parts are used in traditional Chinese medicines
    • Pollution and climate change