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History

In Memory of Our Colleagues

In 2006, a helicopter carrying WWF staff members Dr. Chandra Gurung, Dr. Harka Gurung, Jennifer Headley, Yeshi Choden Lama, Matthew Preece, Dr. Jillian Bowling Schlaepfer and Mingma Sherpa as well as other conservation leaders crashed in Nepal, killing all 23 passengers on board.

In 1961, a limited number of organizations around the world—such as the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) and The Conservation Foundation—were trying to meet conservation needs, but were desperately short of funds.

The first call for broad support was the Morges Manifesto, signed in 1961 by 16 of the world’s leading conservationists, including biologist and African wildlife enthusiast Sir Julian Huxley, IUCN vice president Sir Peter Scott and director-general of the British Nature Conservancy E. M. Nicholson. The Morges Manifesto stated that while the expertise to protect the world environment existed, the financial support to achieve this protection did not. The decision was made to establish World Wildlife Fund as an international fundraising organization to work in collaboration with existing conservation groups and bring substantial financial support to the conservation movement on a worldwide scale.

From 1961 to Today

1960

  1. 1961

    World Wildlife Fund was conceived in April, 1961, and set up shop in September, 1961, at IUCN's headquarters in Morges, Switzerland. H.R.H. Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands became the organization's first president.

    Wwfimgfullitem21960
  2. H.R.H. Prince Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, in 1961 became president of the British National Appeal, the first national organization in the World Wildlife Fund family.

    Wwfimgfullitem21961
  3. World Wildlife Fund, Inc. (WWF)—the U.S. appeal—became the second national organization to be formed in 1961.

    1961c
  4. Launch of WWF at the Royal Society of Arts, London, September 28, 1961. From left to right: Peter Scott, Lord Hurcomb holding a panda, Julian Huxley and Jean Baer.

    1961f
  5. In its first year, the Board approves five projects totaling $33,500. Early projects include work with the bald eagle, the Hawaiian sea bird, the giant grebe of Guatemala, the Tule goose in Canada and the red wolf in the southern United States

    Wwfimgfullitem26976
  6. WWF also finances Ambassador Philip K. Crowe's 1961 mission to Central America and Mexico, during which the ambassador meets with government officials to build support for conservation

    Wwfimgfullitem22011
  7. Another project in 1961 helps Colombian con-servationists establish a small nature reserve. These efforts supplement WWF support for the conservation programs of IUCN, the International Council for Bird Preser-vation (ICBP) and WWF-International.

    Wwfimgfullitem22012
  8. Incorporated in the District of Columbia on December 1, 1961, WWF named Dwight D. Eisenhower its President of Honor.

    Wwfimgfullitem21963
  9. Ira N. Gabrielson and Russell E. Train were the first president and vice president, respectively

    1961e

1970

  1. 1973

    WWF hires its first scientist, Dr. Thomas E. Lovejoy, as a project administrator, in 1973.

    Thomas_lovejoy
  2. WWF grants $38,000 to the Smithsonian Institution to study the tiger population of the Chitwan Sanctuary in Nepal, allowing scientists to successfully use radio tracking devices for the first time in 1973

    Chitwan_sanctuary
  3. WWF purchases 37,000 acres adjacent to Kenya's Lake Nakuru. Nearly 30 bird species depend on the lake, including a million flamingoes for which the lake is the principle feeding ground in 1973.

    Lake_nakuru
  4. The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna & Flora (CITES) is negotiated in 1973, with Russell E. Train leading the U.S. government delegation as Chairman of the White House Council on Environmental Quality.

    White_hosue_council
  5. To date, the CITES international agreement has been signed by over 170 nations that are committed to working together to ensure wild plant and animal species are not threatened with extinction by uncontrolled trade and exploitation.

    Cites
  6. WWF starts to focus not only on species-related conservation projects, but also on protecting habitat by establishing national parks and nature reserves.

    Establishing_national_parks
  7. The first TRAFFIC international office and TRAFFIC USA are created.

    Traffic_usa
  8. 1974

    WWF begins awarding the annual $50,000 Getty Prize for outstanding contributions to wildlife conservation in 1974.  The Prize increases to $100,000 in 1999, and now focuses on the education of future conservationists.

    Getty_prize
  9. 1975

    WWF in 1975 helps create Corcovado National Park, located on Costa Rica's Osa Peninsula. Corcovado contains 13 major habitat types and is the best example of Central American tropical forest now under protection.

    Corcovado_national_park
  10. 1976

    WWF and IUCN in 1976 create TRAFFIC, a wildlife trade monitoring network that works to ensure trade in wild plants and animals is not a threat to the conservation of nature.

    Traffic

1980

  1. With critical support from WWF & the United Nations Environment Program, the IUCN in 1980 publishes the ground-breaking World Conservation Strategy, stating that humanity exists as part of nature & has no future unless nature & natural resources are conserved

    Iucn
  2. Through these debt-for-nature swaps, WWF will convert portions of national debts into funding for conservation.

    National_debts
  3. 1983

    Finca La Planada, a 3,700-acre farm in Colombia, becomes a nature reserve thanks to the joint efforts of WWF and the Colombian Foundation for Higher Education in 1983. La Planada is tropical moist forest with tremendous floral and faunal diversity.

    La_finca_planada
  4. WWF establishes the Primate Action Fund  in 1983 to support short-term needs that lay the groundwork for larger investigations—particularly important for conservation work in tropical countries where primates originate.

    Gorilla
  5. WWF's long-established support of projects in Africa is strengthened by the creation of an Africa program and a formal tie (since discontinued) with the African Wildlife Foundation in 1983.

    Lion
  6. 1984

    In a New York Times editorial in 1984, WWF vice president Dr. Thomas E. Lovejoy sets forth the concept of using Third World debt reduction to protect the environment.

    Dr._thomas_lovejoy_color
  7. School children across the U.S. respond to WWF's 'Pennies for Pandas' campaign in 1984, donating more than $50,000 for panda conservation. Nancy Reagan personally delivers the gift to the Chinese government during a visit to Beijing.

    Pennies
  8. 1985

    Building on 1980's World Conservation Strategy, WWF in 1985 launches Wildlands & Human Needs, a program that demonstrates the eco-nomic circumstances of rural people who share their land with wild animals can improve without degrading the natural habitats.

    Wwf_1985
  9. WWF in 1985 expands conservation programs in Asia and Africa, showcasing the new Annapurna National Park in Nepal and strengthening projects to protect mountain gorillas in Rwanda.

    Annapurna
  10. The Conservation Foundation formally affiliates with WWF in 1985. Though the organizations share the same Board of Directors as well as some staff, they remain separate legal entities.

    The_conservation_foundation
  11. 1986

    The Mexican government in 1986 protects as ecological reserves the area where 100 million Monarch butterflies converge each winter, representing a tremendous victory for Monarca, a WWF supported organization created by local citizens just six years ago.

    Monarch_butterfly
  12. WWF celebrates its 25th anniversary in 1986 with a convocation of leaders from different faith traditions in Assisi, Italy.

    Assisi__italy
  13. On the island of Madagascar, the greater bamboo lemur - thought to be extinct since 1972 - is re-discovered by WWF-sponsored researchers in 1986. WWF also helps reintroduce the Golden Lion Tamarin to Brazil's Atlantic Forest.

    Bamboo_lemur
  14. WWF's wildlife trade arm, TRAFFIC, launches an extensive publicity campaign to combat illegal wildlife trade in 1986.

    Orangutan_traffic
  15. WWF helps create the first national park in Bhutan by transforming the Manas Wildlife Sanctuary in 1986.

    Manas_wildlife_sanctuary
  16. 1987

    WWF in 1987 is instrumental in creating the Cockscomb Jaguar Preserve, which protects one of the largest jaguar populations in Central America, as well as the endangered scarlet macaw.

    Cockscomb_jaguar
  17. WWF helps establish the Guaraquea Ecological Station in 1987, and a 770-square-mile protected area surrounding it, in the Brazilian state of Parana. Extensive mangroves and primeval Atlantic forest in the area shelter the endemic Chau parrot, among other wildlife.

    Guaraquea_ecological_station
  18. In partnership with the Frankfurt Ecological Society, WWF in 1987 undertakes a comprehensive ecological study of Serengeti National Park, providing essential information about wildlife population dynamics and habitat.

    Frankfurt_ecological_society
  19. WWF and the Malawi government work together in 1987 to assess the environmental impact of traditional fisheries and to provide villagers in Lake Malawi National Park with viable economic alternatives to ecologically damaging fishing practices

    Malawi_fish
  20. 1988

    WWF in 1988 arranges a $3 million debt-for-nature swap in Costa Rica, as well as additional swaps in the Philippines for $2 million and Ecuador for $1 million.

    Debt_for_nature
  21. WWF collaborates with Cultural Survival in 1988 to help Ecuador's Awndians gain title to their homeland in the tropical forests near the Colombian border, and to manage their wildlands productively.

    Awndians
  22. WWF's innovative Lumparda Elephant Project in 1988 leads to a sharp decline in poaching of elephants and black rhinos in Zambia, by establishing an adjacent buffer zone for economic activities and employing local people as scouts to protect wildlife.

    Poaching_elephant
  23. 1989

    WWF's campaign to save the African elephant in 1989 plays an important part in the decision by CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) to enact a ban on the ivory trade.

    Elephant_cites
  24. WWF arranges a $2.1 million debt-for-nature swap for Madagascar in 1989, with the help of a $1 million grant from the U.S. Agency for International Development - the first major U.S. government support for a debt-for-nature swap.

    Debt_for_nature_madagascar

1990

  1. WWF and The Conservation Foundation merge in 1990, formalizing a relationship that began in 1985 when The Conservation Foundation first affiliated with WWF.

    1990a
  2. WWF convenes the Cooperative Working Group on Bird Trade in 1990, bringing together the pet industry, avicul-turalists, zoos, animal welfare organizations & conservationists. The group recommends that the U.S. end the import of most wild-caught birds for sale as pets

    1990b
  3. 1991

    WWF in 1991 helps create the Enterprise for the Americas Initiative, which to date has gene-
    rated more than $150 million in conservation and development funding from the proceeds of restructured government-to-government debt in seven Latin American countries

    1991a
  4. With support from WWF, TRAFFIC opens an office covering eastern and southern Africa—the heart of elephant country—in 1991

    1991b
  5. 1992

    WWF in 1992 begins creating "conservation trust funds" for a number of high-priority conservation areas. These trusts act as foundations, providing stable, long-term funding that can meet a country's recurrent environmental costs.

    1992a
  6. 1993

    WWF in 1993 completes a $19 million debt-for-nature swap in the Philippines, the largest such swap ever undertaken by a nongovernmental organization.

    1993a
  7. WWF in 1993 helps create the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) to find solutions which promote responsible stewardship of the world's forests. FSC grows to global network of more than 40 offices in the United States and around the world.

    1993b
  8. 1994

    WWF launches the Russell E. Train Education for Nature (EFN) Program in 1994 to build capacity for conser-vation in Africa, Asia, and Latin America by supporting academic and mid-career training. To date, EFN has awarded over 1000 scholarships and grants.

    1994a
  9. WWF in 1994 initiates and leads the effort of mainstream environmental groups to secure congressional approval of the North American Free Trade Agreement, the first trade convention to address the environment.

    1994b
  10. 1996

    WWF in 1996 works with Malaysia and the Philippines to establish the Turtle Islands Heritage Protected Area, the world's first transborder marine protected area for sea turtles.

    1996a
  11. Our Stolen Future, written by WWF senior scientist Theo Colburn and two colleagues, is published in 1996. The book gives a vivid account of the discovery that some man-made chemicals disrupt the endocrine system in wildlife and humans.

    1996b
  12. WWF negotiates a debt-for-nature swap in Madagascar worth $3.2 million in 1996. Funding is provided by the Dutch government.

    1996c
  13. 1997

    WWF in 1997 launches the Living Planet Campaign, a new vision for preserving Earth's biodiversity. The centerpiece of the campaign is the Global 200, a framework of more than 200 terrestrial, marine and freshwater ecoregions.

    1997a
  14. World Bank President James Wolfensohn in 1997 introduces a partnership with WWF to bring 500 million acres of forest under independent certification as sustainably managed by 2005, and to establish an additional 50 million acres of new forest protected areas.

    1997b
  15. The government of Nepal declares Kanchenjunga, the world's third-highest mountain, as a special conservation area in 1997.

    1997c
  16. Several Canadian oil companies donate 320,000 acres of exploration rights off Canada's Pacific Coast to establish a new marine preserve for orcas, sea otters, starfish and hundreds of other marine species in 1997.

    1997d
  17. WWF and Unilever in 1997 establish the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) to assure the long-term sustainability of global fish stocks and the integrity of marine ecosystems. Two years later MSC becomes a fully independent nonprofit organization.

    1997e
  18. 1998

    In a pledge developed through the WWF-World Bank Alliance, the president of Brazil in 1998 commits to provide legal protection for 10 percent of the Brazilian rain forest, an area greater than all of the national parks in the contiguous United States combined

    1998a
  19. WWF plays a key role in persuading Ecuador to enact a sweeping new law to protect the Galapagos Islands in 1998. The law creates a marine sanctuary around the islands to a 40-mile limit, bans industrial-scale fishing in the area and ensures tourist revenues support conservation.

    1998b
  20. Namibia in 1998 establishes the Communal Area Conservancies Program, designating four communally-run nature conservancies covering 4.2 million acres of critical wildlife habitat.

    1998c
  21. These new conservancies are the first stage in the creation of a broader network of conservancies under a WWF-cosponsored conservation initiative called LIFE (Living in a Finite Environment).

    1998d
  22. 1999

    WWF in 1999 helps craft and secure support from the fishing industry for a proposal to establish a 186-square-nautical-mile no-fishing zone in the Dry Tortugas within the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary.

    1999a
  23. WWF in 1999 convenes the Yaounde Forest Summit in Yaounde, Cameroon. At the Summit, six African heads of state jointly announce plans to create 12 million acres of new cross-border forest protected areas in the Congo Basin.

    1999b
  24. WWF and Fundacion Vida Silvestre Argentina in 1999 are instrumental in winning passage of legislation to protect a 2.5 million-acre forest corridor connecting existing reserves in Argentina's Misiones Province and neighboring Brazil.

    1999d

2000

  1. In 2000, The number of forest acres certified under the principles of the FSC reaches 44 million, including 6.4 million acres in the United States.

    2000a
  2. The President of Brazil's 1998 pledge to create 70 million acres of new protected area in the Amazon expands in 2000, with a new commitment to strengthen the management of an additional 30 million acres of existing protected areas

    2000b
  3. International standards for fisheries management are established in 2000 under the MSC. Certified Australian rock lobster comes to market, and Alaska salmon, which represents more than six percent of the total annual U.S. fish catch, is certified as well.

    2000c
  4. 2001

    Central African nations in 2001 surpass commitments made at the Yaounde Summit.  These governments established nearly 13 million acres of protected areas in the Congo Basin, and are giving special attention to anti-poaching and sustainable forestry.

    2001a
  5. In the Terai Arc of the Eastern Himalayan lowlands, WWF in 2001 spurs progress toward the ambitious goal of creating wildlife corridors linking 11 protected areas between Nepal's Royal Chitwan National Park and India's Corbett National Park, an area of 12,160 acres.

    2001b
  6. The government of Nepal has doubled the size of Royal Bardia National Park to nearly 450,000 acres in 2001, and hundreds of thousands of tree seedlings have been planted in two priority restoration corridors.

    2001c
  7. 2002

    The Amazon Region Protected Areas (ARPA) program launches in 2002. ARPA , an initiative of the Brazilian government spearheaded by WWF, will triple the Amazon protected areas system over the next decade.

    2002a
  8. The Brazilian government creates Tumucumaque National Park in the Brazilian Amazon in 2002, and WWF commits $1 million for its management.  This 9.4 million-acre park is the largest tropical park in the world

    2002b
  9. A debt-for-nature swap will provide $10.6 million for the conservation of more than 27.5 million acres in the Peruvian Amazon.

    2002c
  10. Funding for the swap is generated through an unprecedented partnership between WWF, Conservation International, The Nature Conservancy and the U.S. government.

    2002d
  11. 2003

    WWF secures a $53 million commitment from the U.S. government in 2003 for the new Congo Basin Forest Partnership. Working with the six involved African governments, science-based priorities are defined for protecting species and habitats in the region.

     

    2003a
  12. After three years of intensive work by WWF, the 1.7-million acre Chandless State Park is created in 2003 in the Brazilian Amazon.

    2003b
  13. Global Environment Facility in 2003 officially endorses WWF's Africa Stockpiles Program initiative & makes a $25 million commitment to the program, which aims to clean up & safely dispose of more than 50,000 metric tons of obsolete pesticide waste stockpiled throughout Africa.

    2002e
  14. 2004

    Negotiations by WWF and partners in 2004 culminate in funding to protect nearly 11 million acres of tropical forest in Colombia through a $10 million debt-for-nature swap and $15 million from the Global Environment Facility.

    2004a
  15. A new census in 2004 shows WWF efforts to protect African rhinos are paying off: there are 3,600 black rhinos a substantial increase from the 2,400 left in the 1990s—and 11,000 white rhinos, up from fewer than 100 a century ago.

    2004b
  16. WWF and partners in 2004 launch the International Smart Gear Competition, encouraging the design of innovative fishing gear to reduce accidental deaths of marine mammals, birds and sea turtles.

    2004c
  17. WWF and the Chinese government in 2004 release the most comprehensive study ever done of pandas in the wild, showing nearly 50 percent more pandas than previously thought.

    2004d
  18. 2005

    WWF's Board of Directors in 2005 adopts a 10-year goal: to measurably conserve 15 to 20 of the world's most important ecoregions, and in so doing, transform markets, policies, and institutions in order to reduce threats to these places and the diversity of life on Earth.

    2005a
  19. WWF in 2005 establishes the Mesoamerican Reef Trust Fund, benefiting Belize, Honduras, Guatemala and Mexico. It is the first conservation trust fund to be implemented on an ecoregional scale.

    2005b
  20. WWF and the American Prairie Foundation in 2005 acquire 31,320 acres of land in Montana for wildlife restoration. In conjunction with a continent-wide effort to save the American bison, genetically pure bison are reintroduced to this land after an absence of 120 years.

    2005c
  21. In the wake of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, WWF develops Green Reconstruction Policy Guidelines in 2005 to be used by the American Red Cross as a blueprint for reconstruction efforts.

    2005d
  22. 2006

    WWF in 2006 defeats a proposal for the world's largest oil palm plant-ation, which threatens to destroy the last remaining intact forests of Borneo. Governments of Malaysia, Indonesia and Brunei commit to the Heart of Borneo declaration to conserve and sustainably manage the forests.

    2006a
  23. WWF in 2006 engages with Wal-Mart on sustain-ability efforts focused on its supply chain, including MSC certification of all fisheries, participation in the Global Forest & Trade Network, Mining Certification Guidelines, Better Cotton Initiative & other agriculture-related issues.

    2006b
  24. WWF in 2006 supports the declaration of the 4.7 million-acre Juruena National Park in the Amazon. With this new park, a total of 33 million acres of new strict nature protection and 18.5 million acres of new sustainable use areas have been created since ARPA's inception in 2002.

    2002c
  25. WWF in 2006 receives the largest gift in its history, $34.6 million, from the estate of H. Guy Di Stefano. The donation is earmarked for projects with potential for large and immediate impact on WWF's worldwide conservation efforts

    2006d
  26. 2007

    WWF and The Coca-Cola Company in 2007 announce a $20 million partnership to focus on seven important river basins, global supply chain and water use efficiency in its bottling plants.

    2007a
  27. WWF in 2007 helps Russia establish two new national parks in key tiger habitat. Covering 419,000 acres, these are the first parks in the region to balance conservation and recreational uses.

    2007b
  28. At the meeting of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation in 2007, all 21 heads of state in atten- dance, including President Bush and Indonesian President Yudhoyono, commit to advance the Coral Triangle Initiative on Coral Reefs, Fisheries and Food Security.

    2007c
  29. WWF in 2007 forms the Climate Savers Computing Initiative with Google, IBM, Dell, Intel and others, establishing new efficiency standards for computers that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 54 million tons per year.

    2007d
  30. 2008

    The largest debt-for-nature swap in Madagascar's history is agreed to by the governments of Madagascar and France in 2008. The swap allocates roughly $20 million over five years, and is part of a global effort led by WWF

    2008a
  31. In direct response to a WWF-led campaign, Staples, the largest office products company in the U.S., ends its relationship with Asia Pulp & Paper (APP) because of its poor environmental practices

    2008b
  32. WWF helps Bhutan create the 1,442-square mile Wangchuck Centennial Park, the second-largest park in the country. With the creation of this park, 49 percent of Bhutan's land cover is protected.

    2008c
  33. Governors of Sumatra's 10 provinces sign an agreement pledging to restore critical ecosystems in Sumatra and protect areas with high conservation values. WWF will help implement this political commitment.

    2008d
  34. 2009

    Governors of Sumatra's 10 provinces sign an agreement pledging to restore critical ecosystems in Sumatra and protect areas with high conservation values. WWF will help implement this political commitment.

    2009a
  35. WWF, Fundacion Carlos Slim (FCS) & the Mexican government launch the Alianza Mexico, an initiative to establish Mexico as a global model for conservation. The Alianza plans an initial $100 million investment from FCS and other donors to support conservation.

    2009b
  36. The 10-year Regional Coral Triangle Initiative (CTI) Plan of Action, which sets steps to address growing threats to the region's wildlife and habitat, is agreed to at the CTI Leaders' Summit in Indonesia. WWF was intimately involved in the development of the plan.

    2009c

2010

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