Top 10 Achievements

1. Giant Panda

Little was known about the reclusive giant panda when WWF chose it as our logo in the early 1960s. The first modern field research only began two decades later when Dr. George Schaller of WWF and Professor Hu Jinchu of Sichuan Normal University began field research in Wolong and Tangiiahe Nature Reserves in Sichuan. The results of this work and later research in the Changqing Reserve form the basis for the understanding of the ecology and behavior of the wild panda that we have today.

Over the past 30 years, WWF has helped the Chinese government establish a giant panda conservation network, which consists of 62 Giant panda nature reserves, key corridors, and forest farms that cover 71 per cent of the giant panda population and 57 per cent of its habitat. This amounts to 1.34 million hectares, almost double the area of Shanghai. WWF participated in the second national giant panda survey from 1985-1988, and the third from 1999-2003. In 2001, we introduced integrated landscape protection concepts to China, and have applied them to the ongoing projects in Qinling and Minshan. For their contributions to giant panda conservation, WWF awarded the “Gift to the Earth” to the Shanxi government in 2003, as well as the Sichuan and Gansu governments in 2006. With WWF support, the State Forestry Administration nationally unified the Technical Regulations for Monitoring of Giant Panda and Its Habitat in 2008. Since then we have worked with the government to extend integrated landscape conservation to all giant panda landscapes. In addition, WWF supports the green recovery of giant panda habitats and reconstruction of local communities to mitigate the damage caused by the May 12, 2008 earthquake on the home of giant pandas.

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2. Wetland Conservation

We understand that clean water is one of China’s most valuable resources. That’s why we have been helping China work on academic, public, and legislative aspects of wetland conservation for more than a decade. In fact, as of 2009, the country had 36 areas protected as wetlands of international importance, amounting to 3.8 million hectares or 10.4% of all wetland across the country. WWF started working on the National Wetland Conservation Action Plan back in 1999. By 2010, the action plan had placed 200 wetland areas under protection, covering more than 20 million hectares. We are happy to report that seasonal connectivity has been restored to important freshwater bodies along the upper and lower Yangtze, including Dongting Lake, Poyang Lake, Zhangdu Lake, and the Tian’e zhou Oxbow. A great deal of habitat has also been restored thanks to increased community involvement in freshwater conservation, as well as more opportunities for locals to earn a living that does not damage the environment. 

These successes led WWF and the State Forestry Administration to cooperate under HSBC’s “Climate Partnership” and establish the Yangtze Wetland Conservation Network in 2007, which includes the central and lower Yangtze basin. So far 1.64 million hectares of wetland across 40 nature reserves have been linked together, protecting diverse habitats and reducing their vulnerability to climate change. More than 100,000 people have benefited from this project, some of which have seen their income increase as much as 33 per cent. Thanks to the support of The Coca-Cola Company and other sponsors, the network is expected to expand to cover the entire Yangtze basin. Integrated River Basin Management (IRBM) has proven successful in pilot projects in the Huoxihe and Chishui rivers since it was first introduced in 2004, and has since been advocated at the highest political platforms by key stakeholders such as the CCICED and the biennial Yangtze Forum. WWF has established an IRBM Expert Panel and four Working Groups including Environmental Flows, Drinking Water Safety, Master Plan, and Climate Change Adaptation. The Yangtze Climate Change Vulnerability and Adaptation Report and Yangtze Conservation and Development Report have also been extremely successful.

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3. Forestry Stewardship Council Forest Management Certification

Saving forests is serious business. Since WWF started its forest program in China, nearly 2 million hectares of forests have passed Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) forest management certification, while the number of FSC-certified companies in China has grown from 7 to 1000 from 2001 - 2009. The role FSC is now playing in China was particularly evident at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, where FSC flooring and doors were used in all green demonstration buildings. Along with this, High Conservation Value Forests (HCVF) methodology has also been incorporated into national and regional forest policies and practices. Much of this growth is thanks to the Chinese government’s 2003 decision expedite the promotion of forest certification in line with international requirements. And with WWF-China’s help, the National Guideline on Sustainable Overseas Silviculture by Chinese Enterprises, and the National Guideline on Sustainable Overseas Forestry Development by Chinese Enterprises were issued in 2007 and 2009 by the SFA and the Ministry of Commerce. A basis for self-regulation, the guidelines provide Chinese forestry enterprises that are working overseas with sustainable development standards for silviculture, wood harvesting, and processing.  To date, 23 leading companies in wood processing and forest management in China have joined GFTN-China and practice legal and sustainable timber trade and sustainable forest management. More than 150 small and middle scale wood processing enterprises in China were trained under the China Green Wood Initiative to practice responsible supply chain management.

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4. Welcoming the Tiger Back Home

China’s rapid economic development is putting immense pressure on the habitat Amur tigers once called home. To help improve conditions, WWF and partners released the Changbaishan Tiger Habitat Report in 2010, the first intensive study on the best potential habitat for Amur tigers in China. Also, with WWF assistance, the Jilin provincial government drafted the “Amur Tiger Conservation Plan for Jilin Province,” and “Wild Tiger Conservation Strategy Proposals”, which deliver guidelines that place Amur tigers as a conservation priority. WWF has helped set up five nature reserves and protected areas in concert with Jilin and Heilongjiang provinces, covering a total area of 124,418 ha. We have helped develop Amur tiger and prey populations monitoring and patrolling methodologies that have been implemented in China’s northeast. Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) forest management certification, High Conservation Value Forests (HCVF) methodology and developing livelihood programmes that reduce human-tiger conflict have similarly been applied to conservation efforts as additional methods to help protect tigers, their habitat, and their prey. To push these efforts even further, WWF is hoping to establish a tiger protection network that covers six million hectares of Amur Tiger habitat. And to ensure tigers have the space they need to roam, we’ve been working on a new transboundary nature reserve network between China and Russia.

A significant reduction in the illegal trade on products derived from wild tigers has been achieved with the help of WWF-China's regular monitoring activities along the China-Russia border. We have also been immensely successful examining global concerns about tiger farming and tiger parts trade in cooperation with TRAFFIC and the Chinese government.

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5. Alternative Livelihood Approaches

WWF has spent the last 30 years working to protect China’s environment. This also means working with people to improve their quality of life.

Alternative livelihood approaches, including pepper planting, beekeeping, medicinal herb planting, ecotourism, organic agriculture and fisheries, were among the innovative work launched by WWF in Yangtze communities. These alternative livelihoods demonstrated effective ways of achieving both conservation and poverty alleviation across the basin region to reduce impacts on local ecosystems and rare species habitats. In earthquake-ravaged Maoxian Country, Sichuan Province, for example, WWF livelihood projects were able to raise the household income of 218 pepper farmers by an average of RMB254 in 2007. In 2008, the programme saw close to 380 farmers earn an average of RMB430 more than in the past, while in 2009, the average increased to RMB500.

Meanwhile, in Yunnan Province, WWF introduced sustainable pine mushroom (matsutake) cultivation to communities located in the Baima Snow Mountain Reserve. From 2001 to 2004, the number of communities participating in the sustainable cultivation project grew to 108, accounting for 90% of all settlements in the protected area. The pine mushroom livelihood project helped increase local incomes by 100-250 percent while simultaneously limiting the damage they caused to the area’s natural resources. In Weitong village, for example, which was formerly one of the poorest districts in the Baima Reserve, people’s annual incomes grew from RMB100 to RMB6,000 in some cases, with the overall average household increase settling at RMB1,360 per year.

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6. Influencing the public

Before WWF became the first NGO to work in China, awareness of environmental issues among the general public was low. It was our groundbreaking work on panda conservation in the 1980s that inspired many people to take an interest in protecting life on Earth. Since then, we have continually worked to improve public awareness about the actions needed for a healthy planet.

Over the past 30 years, thousands of millions people from communities, schools and universities have participated WWF’s campaign such as Wetland Ambassador Action (WAA), 20 ways to 20%, and Earth Hour, taking real action to protect the environment.

Over the last ten years, the WAA campaign has reached more than 600 communities and 400,000 people in 28 provinces. From Earth Hour polling, we found out that 56.7% of individuals from Beijing, Shanghai, Baoding participated in the global climate change awareness-raising event by turning off lights or joining an activity.

And we have a strong network of supporters across China, with more than 29,000 online subscribers and a team of active volunteers who have signed up to demonstrate their commitment to WWF’s conservation goals.

Meanwhile, WWF also worked with China’s Ministry of Education to launch National Environmental Education Guidelines, which ensured our Education for Sustainable Development Programme reached over 200 million students through mainstreaming environment into the national curriculum.

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7. Corporate Partnerships

We engage in innovative and challenging partnerships to drive change and promote sustainability in China.

WWF is striving to transform world markets towards sustainability. We work with companies such as HSBC, The Coca-Cola Company, and Ikea to increase commitments to sustainability and environmentally sound business practices. Companies such as Carrefour work with WWF by offering a unique market access platform for small-scale farmers. Tetra Pak, meanwhile, works with WWF to ensure their products are FSC certified to limit their impact on the environment. WWF also partners with many other international and Chinese enterprises to encourage the use innovative solutions to improve the environmental practice and help safeguard some of Earth’s most precious ecological regions.

In addition to mobilizing enterprises to reduce their own carbon emissions, we also help develop solutions that reduce emissions from other sectors of society.

WWF’s Low Carbon Prosperity project, for example, explores and analyzes the low carbon practices of Chinese businesses and the real gains available through such actions. Our goal is to inspire more businesses in China to pursue low carbon prosperity. We are already showcasing the low carbon initiatives of project collaborators such as China Mobile to help reduce their carbon footprint and study how other communications providers can lower their emissions.

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8. Climate change

Since 1995, WWF has been working with governments, academia, civil society and businesses to support China's participation in global action against climate change and the development of a low carbon economy. 

WWF and its partners across China support international climate change negotiations, and promote intergovernmental communication through WWF’s extensive international network. We also work with a wide variety of groups around the world on mitigating the impacts of climate change. In the run up to COP15 in Copenhagen in 2009, we helped draft the Civil Society Climate Change Initiative, which urged governments to reach a fair, ambitious and legally binding agreement on climate change. WWF is especially committed to discussions on climate change between developing nations, and promoting intergovernmental cooperation in low carbon development.

We accomplish this by encouraging a move towards a low carbon economy through the application of renewable energy and energy efficiency technology, low carbon city development, working with leading business partners to cut emissions, and advocating a low consumption lifestyle.

Our Low Carbon City Initiative (LCCI) in Baoding and Shanghai, which focuses on green technology and energy efficiency, has been one of our most successful projects to date. We have also established the China Renewable Energy Entrepreneurs Club, a platform that allows green businesses leaders and top government officials to address some of the largest issues facing clean tech development in China.  We have also been immensely successful engaging people allover the country to take action against climate change. Student groups from more than 100 universities in 16 large cities including Beijing, Shanghai, Chongqing, and Wuhan took part in our “20 ways to 20%” energy saving campaign, and other activities such as carbon footprint art performances, Low Carbon Spring Festival, Earth Hour, and energy efficiency education campaigns that aim to slow the pace of global warmig.

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9. Footprint Report and Sustainable Banking

WWF-China and the China Council for International Cooperation on Environment and Development (CCICED) jointly published the first China Ecological Footprint Report in 2008. Ecological Footprint measures the amount of biologically productive land and water area needed to meet the demands of a population (an individual, a family, a city or a country). As a resource accounting tool that makes demand on biological capital visible, measurable, and manageable, the Ecological Footprint allows decision makers at all levels to identify strategies for sustainable development. This concept was also adopted in CCICED’s annual report.

WWF is China’s first non-governmental organization working on Ecological Footprint. Since first introducing the concept in 2008, WWF has supported partners such as the Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, part of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, to carry out capacity building projects, including the development of database and methodology, as well as scale and level of application research, which has played an active role in facilitating the development of Footprint-related policies in China. WWF has also effectively communicated with its Chinese partners the potential role the footprint concept could play in the development of China’s green economic policy. 

The Ecological Footprint Report has given WWF’s regional offices an important took with which they can identify the common challenges of sustainable development. By calculating the biocapacity of different regions, we been able to help improve understanding about the availability of natural resources and the Earth’s ability to regenerate.

RMB60 trillion worth of loans, deposit interests, and exchange rates could be influenced by a new Sustainable Banking Development Strategy jointly designed by WWF-China and the People’s Bank of China in 2008. Bank lending policies on key industries, including pulp and paper guidelines, were developed by the Ministry of Environmental Protection, the China Banking Regulatory Commission, the People's Bank of China and WWF-China through joint research.

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10. Capacity Building

Besides environmental conservation, WWF also works to build capacity in nature reserves, local NGOs, and local communities.

WWF-China employees have increased from 6 to 120 in the last 30 years. This simple fact is, we can’t operate without the many talented people we have working for us. That’s why we’ve offered 152 different training sessions since we starting working in China. By constantly challenging our staff and encouraging their development, we’re making sure the remain top experts in China’s species, forests, freshwater ecosystems and climate and energy issues.

To answer the increasing calls for capacity building on nature reserves, WWF has organized over 110 training programs for more than 2,000 nature reserve staff, covering a variety of conservation and community development themes. These include wildlife identification, GIS application, nature reserve management, corridor management, community co-management and many other areas. WWF has also provided more than 800 pieces of equipment to help facilitate conservation work, including computers, GPS devices, cameras, tents, and first-aid kits.

Other projects we’ve successfully completed on nature reserves include training sessions on conservation issues and sustainable development. Experience sharing, community projects, and eco-tourism plans are other areas we’ve helped nurture over the years.

WWF-China has also helped small grassroots organizations build capacity in programme management and campaigning using WWF experience and knowledge. Up to now, WWF has supported more than 85 non-governmental groups in the conservation of priority species. Many students groups and community partners have also benefited from the campaigns we run on the importance of protecting China’s valuable natural resources.

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