A Long Green March: WWF Celebrates 30 Years in China

Posted on 05 June 2010
Shanghai, China – WWF celebrated 30 years of operations in China at the Shanghai Expo today with events highlighting its major conservation breakthroughs in one of the fastest growing and most dynamic nations on Earth.

The only international non-government conservation organization at Expo 2010, WWF and its long-term partner, the State Forestry Administration (SFA), started the WWF Honor Day celebrations early on June 5th with the Growing with Green China Forum, an event that got people up close and personal with WWF’s past, present and future.

"WWF takes immense pride in the 30 years of success we’ve had here in China. From our origins conserving iconic species like the giant panda and Amur tiger, to the work we do promoting ecological footprint and sustainable banking, WWF has covered a lot of ground since 1980,” said WWF International Director General James P. Leape.

“But this does not mean our work in China is done – far from it. WWF will continue to build strong relationships with partners to protect the extraordinary resources of this country and ensure we leave a healthy, living planet for future generations,” he added. 

Also speaking at the forum was SFA Deputy Director Chen Shuxian: “For the past 30 years, the SFA-WWF partnership has made a major contribution to protecting China’s environment, especially in the conservation of biodiversity, water resources, and the sustainable use of forests,” he said.

“The SFA and WWF partnership has also helped raise public awareness of environmental issues. Because of this, the importance of protecting this country’s resources has gained full recognition from all sectors of society, including the government. We will continue to build on this relationship and expand to new areas,” Mr. Chen said. 

Chinese celebrity and Global Earth Hour Ambassador Li Bingbing added a special touch to the forum with the help of Zhou Min, a representative from WWF’s awareness-raising Wetland Ambassador Action campaign.

The pair presented real life examples of how WWF has helped boost awareness of environmental issues in China and changed peoples' lives for the better.

In the Minshan panda landscape, for example, attention to alternative livelihoods has increased local incomes by 30 per cent.  Nearly 1.5 million hectares of forests are now certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), bringing market benefits to responsible forest managers.

Other major successes highlighted during the forum include tiger conservation, stronger corporate partnerships with companies including HSBC, Carrefour, and The Coca Cola Company, as well as big steps forward in promoting ecological footprint and sustainable banking.

Celebrating efforts to save the Amur tiger is particularly important during this Year of the Tiger in the Chinese lunar calendar. The Amur or Siberian tiger is the largest sub-species of tiger and is primarily found in southeastern Russia and northeastern China. In the 1960s it was close to extinction, but its numbers have recovered to around 450 today.
However, between 18 and 24 Amur tigers are now living in China’s northeast, a number that could easily grow if steps continue to secure more habitat in the endangered species’ traditional home.

Recent actions taken in China include the December 2009 directive issued by the SFA calling for increased protection of wild tigers through habitat management, public education and stronger law enforcement action. This was followed by the Changbaishan Tiger Habitat Report in 2010, a unique intensive study developed by WWF and partners on the best potential habitat for Amur tigers in China.
After the forum, over 100 volunteers from East China Normal University descended on the Expo’s Oceania Square to form a massive replica of WWF’s distinctive black and white panda logo, while appealing to the large crowd that gathered to protect our planet.

Closing the celebration off was an environment-themed concert that featured Chinese rock luminary Cui Jian as the headline act. Singers Yu Quan, Zhang Xuan and Cao Fang also performed in support of a healthy planet, while bands including disco-punk all-stars New Pants and pop-driven Milk@Coffee offered soundscapes in support of energy conservation and sustainable development.

Pushing the celebrations on beyond June 5th is the WWF Expo pavilion. Located in the International Organizations Joint Pavilion, Zone B, and themed “The Future of the Planet is up to Me!”, the Yin Yang shaped structure offers visitors a unique opportunity to engage in some of the world’s most pressing conservation issues. June’s theme is panda, tigers and endangered species, while July will focus on climate change.

For further information
Mr. Chris Chaplin, +86 6511 6237, +86 138 103 73 244, cchaplin@wwfchina.org

Notes to Editors

WWF Pavilion
•    Inspired by the traditional Chinese philosophy of the balance between Yin and Yang, the WWF pavilion promotes harmony between humans and nature under the theme “The future of the planet is up to me.”
•    The HSBC Climate Partnership, a five-year global programme that aims to inspire action on climate change, supported pavilion construction costs.
•    The WWF pavilion is located in the International Organizations Joint Pavilion, Zone B, Expo Park.
•    The Expo starts on 1st May and runs until 31st October 2010. For more details, visit http://en.expo2010.cn/. Over 70 million visitors are expected at Expo 2010.

Monthly Themes
May     Ecological footprint
June     Panda, tigers and endangered species
July     Climate change
Aug.     Energy efficiency and renewable energy
Sep.     Freshwater and dolphins
Oct.     Sustainable forests

Year of the Tiger
With as few as 3,200 tigers left in the wild, WWF is running a Year of the Tiger campaign that seeks to double the number of tigers in the wild by the next Year of the Tiger in 2022.

About WWF
In 2010, WWF (World Wide Fund for Nature) celebrates 30 years of conservation work in China. As the world’s largest independent organization dedicated to the conservation of nature, we have developed innovative programmes that encourage the protection of biodiversity, sustainable development, and footprint reduction in regions across the county including the Yangtze River, Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau, Mekong River, and the Amur-Heilong River Basin. Our major achievements include helping the Chinese government establish a network of more than 60 giant panda reserves, setting up the central and lower Yangtze wetland conservation network, encouraging the sustainable use of forests, the publication the China’s first footprint report, and the launch of China’s pioneering low carbon demonstration cities, Baoding and Shanghai.
For recent news from WWF-China, visit www.wwfchina.org