Why you should be wild about the World Wide Fund
Feel better about yourself on a Monday
World Wide Fund for Nature-SA, an environmental NGO which makes a huge contribution to conservation and sustainable development in South Africa, celebrates its 50th anniversary in South Africa in June. Here are 10 reasons to go green and support it:
WWF-SA set up the Southern African Sustainable Seafood Initiative that informs consumers about what fish to buy and eat with its sustainable list and helpline (red, amber and green choices). This encourages “more sustainable fishing practices in the seafood industry”.
Table Mountain is one of the seven natural wonders of the world and in 1993 WWF-SA set up the Table Mountain Fund to help protect its astonishing and unique biodiversity. More than 9,000 plant species are found in the Cape Floristic Kingdom, the most diverse of the world’s six plant kingdoms. The Table Mountain Fund has invested more than R68-million in over 300 projects, says media manager Andrea Weiss. WWF-SA also created the National Parks Trust to expand protected areas across South Africa.SA has been celebrating Earth Hour – a campaign started by WWF to symbolically switch off lights for one hour on the last Saturday in March – since 2007 “in the interests of promoting a low carbon future”. Moving South Africa to a low carbon economy, securing water sources and sustainable food production at sea and on land should be priorities in SA, the CEO declares. WWF-SA helped, for example, to identify 21 water source areas in the country to be prioritised for protection under the National Water Resource Strategy.Its Black Rhino Range expansion project has helped increase the population of the critically endangered black rhino in Africa back to about 5,000. Their numbers had dropped from about 65,000 in the 1960s to about 2,000 in the 1990s. WWF-SA has also contributed to the conservation of albatrosses in the Southern Ocean, lobbying to create the Prince Edwards Islands Marine Protected Area, which was proclaimed in 2013. This has four albatross species and is a key breeding ground for seabirds.Environmental issues can come last on the agenda but once a year the Living Planet Conference, organised by WWF-SA ,propels these issues into the spotlight, attracting guest speakers such as Pravin Gordhan. Every two years WWF-SA organises The Journey of Water “to connect ordinary people with their water sources”, a popular idea replicated by other offices including Brazil and Malaysia.
WWF-SA has an active internship programme for graduates that helps bridge the gap between studying and working in the environmental sector. For example, water scientist and ecologist Kholosa Magudu, head of community engagement: water stewardship for its Freshwater Programme, is providing leadership in the Breede River project in the Groot Winterhoek water source area. WWF-SA is also targeting young South Africans about “wiser consumption” as the key to sustainable production and is encouraged by growing awareness among millennials.Its Conservation Champion initiative encourages stewardship of the environment in a range of areas, from agriculture to water, across different communities, says Weiss. “WWF-SA is active from the Mgundeni community in KwaZulu-Natal to the wine farms of the Boland. Their Conservation Champion programme specifically recognises wine farms that have made strong environmental commitments.”
WWF-SA is protecting SA’s natural heritage, the cornerstone of its tourism industry. Tourism provides about 10% of jobs and is a sustainable source of employment. The organisation is promoting the inextricable connection between people and resilient ecosystems with the tagline For Nature, For You.
WWF-SA says it has “the highest concentration of professional environmental and scientific expertise outside of the government”. This gives it the expertise to prepare for and manage medium to longterm risks to the environment.The competition for resources, food and water security in the next 50 years will far outstrip the last half a century and responsible custodianship of the planet is essential, says WWF-SA CEO, Morné du Plessis. “WWF has played a significant role to date but one might call the experience of the last 50 years ‘kindergarten’ compared to what lies ahead,” he says. “Among the myths we must debunk is that development and the environment are at loggerheads. We ignore either at our peril.”
For details see www.wwf.org.za..