When wildfires swept through the Amazon and Australia, WWF mobilized to help people and wildlife in need.
On August 19, 2019, smoke from fires in the Amazon blew southeast, mingled with low clouds, and turned day into night in São Paulo, Brazil, thousands of miles away. Satellite images confirmed that huge portions of the world’s largest rain forest were burning. In early January 2020, similar images from Australia emerged. Swaths of smoke darkened skies over Sydney, Melbourne, and Canberra, drifting over the Pacific as far as Argentina’s capital, Buenos Aires. Thousands of acres of Australia’s forests were on fire.
The WWF Australian Wildlife & Nature Recovery Fund
The WWF Australian Wildlife and Nature Recovery Fund was established to boost Australian capacity to respond to wildlife in need of urgent care, protect habitat that we have not yet lost, and restore the iconic ecosystem impacted by the bushfires. RESPONSE: including partnering with wildlife response organizations, communities and scientists nationally for a swift and effective response and recovery at scale.RESTORATION: including restoring forests and damaged wildlife habitat, and stopping deforestation—cultivating habitat connectivity, core habitat and Indigenous and rural fire management.FUTURE-PROOFING AUSTRALIA: including driving innovative solutions to help mitigate climate change, driving climate preparedness, and long-term wildlife and nature conservation efforts towards securing Australia’s natural resources for people and nature.
How Your Donation Helped Make a Difference
As of May 2020, 80% of the funds have been allocated to responding to wildlife in need of urgent care, while the remainder helped restore critical habitat and prepare for the future. Through these generous donations, 64 bushfire response projects were approved, including those that provide veterinary services, food, and shelter for injured and homeless wildlife. Drones and detection dogs were used to help assess wildlife health and distribution. May marked the first month without fires. As we move past the 2020 fire season, we turn our focus to protecting and restoring critical habitat and threatened species, and future-proofing Australia for future bushfire and climate-change related threats.
RESPONSE PHASE I(2019-2020 Fire Season)Respond with Urgency During this phase, WWF-Australia also gathered information and reported on wildlife fatalities, shared insights and advised the government on needed interventions, supported impacted conservation partners, and conducted threatened species abundance assessments. Threatened species include: Koala, Greater Glider, Long-footed Potoroo, Kangaroo Dunnart, Glossy Black Cockatoo, Rufous Scrub-bird, Mountain Pygmy Possum, Yellow-bellied Glider, Brush-tailed Rock Wallaby
RESPONSE PHASE II (2020 Post Fires & Beyond)Protect and Restore Wildlife and LandscapesIn order to restore and protect critical habitat, WWF-Australia will work to ensure unburnt habitat is protected, educate and de-bunk misinformation, and help restore priority fire-impacted species and habitats with a focus on connectivity and climate resilience. We will also innovate and scale specific adaptation interventions and replicate and scale effective conservation approaches. RESPONSE PHASE III(2020 Post Fires & Beyond)Future-proof Australian Society We aim to improve Australia’s “Nature Laws” by influencing the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act review and strengthening climate policy while enhancing traditional owner land management solutions. Through campaigns and funding, we will facilitate the transition to renewables and position Australia as a testbed for impactful, innovative and regenerative solutions capable of being scaled globally.
THANK YOU! Please download the full report for more information.
I hope you are well, as I know that for many of you and your colleagues and families the coronavirus has been disruptive to both business and our daily lives. In these times it may be comforting to hear stories of people coming together in the face of crisis, so I wanted to share a quick update on WWF’s Australia response.
As you all know, the Australia bushfires have claimed an estimated 1.25 billion animals and 29 million acres of land – an area the size of Virginia. We’ve all seen the images of homes and communities lost, koalas and kangaroos burned, and whole landscapes charred.
WWF has been working to conserve nature in Australia for the last 40 years, and WWF-US has been actively supporting our Australian colleagues in this moment of need. WWF has partnered with wildlife rescue and care organizations in bushfire zones and is directing funds to respond to the emergency at scale. This includes:
We’re grateful to everyone who made this assistance possible.The devastation to our natural environment caused by the bushfires has been unprecedented and the recovery work ahead is immense. Over the coming months and years, funds will be used to:
Looking forward, we also face the reality that fire seasons like these will no longer be unique. Indeed, the past year has seen wildfires rage across Brazil, California, and even Alaska. The effects of climate change mean that this is the new normal. And this reality brings tough choices for people, governments, and for companies.
At WWF, we’re grateful to be part of charting a more sustainable future for all. Thank you again for those of you that have supported - and are continuing to support - our efforts in Australia. Every donation we receive is critical to helping WWF respond to this emergency, not just today, but over the coming months and years as we work to recover and restore wildlife and nature.
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