Broadening Our Conservation Efforts

This Week in NWF History

Since 1936, the National Wildlife Federation has worked to conserve the nation’s wildlife and wild places. As part of our 80th anniversary celebration, we are recognizing important moments in our history that continue to make an impact today.

For many migratory species such as monarch butterflies, shorebirds, and whales, the United States is just one stop on their long journeys. Some species only spend part of their lives in the United States and depend on healthy forests and other habitats in Mexico, Central and South America for their survival. To help protect wildlife and wild places worldwide, the National Wildlife Federation started its International Wildlife Program in February 1982.

Chestnut-mandibled toucan from Costa Rica. Photo donated by National Wildlife Photo Contest entrant Patrick Carney

NWF’s International team has worked for over 30 years to conserve important habitat which is under threat due to deforestation driven by large-scale investments, such as in agriculture for the production of global commodities such as beef, soy, palm oil, and timber. During its early years, the program concentrated on the largest sources of development finance, which were causing habitat destruction and threats to indigenous peoples – such as loans from the World Bank for dam and highway projects. NWF helped to lead the global coalitions which won reforms of the Bank’s lending rules, including requirements for environmental impact studies and protections for forests.

Jaguar habitat is threatened by the unsustainable expansion of soy in Latin America. Photo by Valeria via Flickr Creative Commons

To reduce the environmental impacts associated with large-scale agriculture, the National Wildlife Federation now works with the private sector, aiming for “sustainable” production of important commodities to meet the world’s needs without destroying forests or jeopardizing wildlife habitat. NWF works to convince U.S. and global commodity producers and traders, and major retail chains and brands, to stop using materials from recently deforested areas.

This past December, NWF’s International team traveled to Paris for the 21st Conference of the Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP21) where we hosted two events centered on how to reduce deforestation. These panels were two of many during COP 21 that demonstrated the key role that land use needs to play in a world shaped by climate change. While in Paris, NWF was successful in its call for recognition of the land sector in the historic new climate agreement, which will finally start to limit dangerous climate pollution and ensure protections for people and wildlife.

Symbolically Adopt Now Symbolically adopt a jaguar today to help NWF’s global conservation mission!

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