Action Report: December/January 2010

How National Wildlife Federation is making a difference

12-01-2009 // NWF Staff

Protecting the Amazon: Solutions to Deforestation
Worldwide, nearly a fifth of the carbon dioxide primarily responsible for global warming comes from razing forests, particularly tropical forests. In Brazil—the planet’s fourth largest greenhouse gas producer—more than three quarters of all land clearing in the Amazon, and 44 percent of the nation’s total greenhouse gas emissions, are caused by cattle ranching. To help solve this problem, last summer NWF organized the International Workshop on Solutions to Deforestation and Greenhouse Gas Emissions Caused by Cattle Expansion in São Paulo, Brazil.

“The workshop brought together for the first time stakeholders from every link in Brazil’s meat and leather supply chain, from ranchers and retailers to representatives of government, academia and nongovernmental organizations,” says Nathalie Walker, manager of NWF’s Climate Change, Deforestation & Agriculture Project. Another first, says Walker, was a consensus among the workshop’s participants on “essential building blocks towards an environmentally and socially responsible cattle industry.”

The workshop was preceded by a field trip to the state of Acre where attendees interviewed Amazonian ranchers who, by growing alternative grasses and rotating cattle among small plots, have decreased the amount of pasture needed without sacrificing profits. “We used to assume that cattle ranches in the Amazon were doomed to constantly clear new land due to the poor quality of rain forest soils,” says Barbara Bramble, NWF’s senior program advisor for international affairs who has worked on deforestation issues for more than two decades. “The good news is this turns out to be untrue.”

Costly Project to Deepen Delaware River Halted
After a nearly decade-long campaign, the Delaware Nature Society (DNS), an NWF affiliate, finally has reason to celebrate. Last July, the state’s Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control denied a key permit that would have allowed the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to dredge 106 miles of the Delaware River, deepening it by five feet. According to NWF Senior Resource Specialist David Conrad, the decision “at least temporarily halts this boondoggle project, which would threaten fish and wildlife across a wide spectrum—from blue crabs and horseshoe crabs to endangered short-nosed sturgeon to many species of migratory waterfowl.”

Conrad cites DNS board member Dick Fleming, in particular, “for a tremendous effort on behalf of his beloved Delaware Bay and River.” Fleming, noting important contributions from other groups opposing the project—including NWF and the Delaware Riverkeeper Network—says the department “made the right call. Simply put, the project inadequately protected important environmental assets of the State of Delaware.”

Fleming won NWF’s Charlie Shaw Conservation Partnership Award for his work on the controversy in 2004. He says that “with that honor came a personally felt obligation to redouble my efforts in subsequent years.” To learn more, go to www.delawarenaturesociety.org.

Prime Habitat Protected
The Bureau of Land Management recently withdrew 24,000 acres in Wyoming’s Bridger-Teton National Forest from energy development. The move was praised by NWF and other groups that have been fighting to preserve high-quality fish and wildlife habitat and recreational opportunities in the Rocky Mountain West. See www.sportsmen4responsibleenergy.org.

Webinars Help Pros Safeguard Species
NWF, in partnership with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, has developed a series of web conferences to help wildlife managers and other natural resource professionals safeguard wildlife from the impacts of climate change. Launched earlier this year and led by leading scientists from universities, government agencies and other organizations, the approximately hour-long webinars are similar to graduate school seminars and assume participants have at least some technical background.

“From coast to coast, global warming is causing habitats to change and wildlife already is responding,” explains Naomi Edelson, NWF’s senior manager of state wildlife programs and one of the series’ founders. “We’re hoping the webinars will help conservation professionals safeguard as many of these species as possible.” Because participants need not travel to attend them, the conferences also are climate friendly, she adds. “They are a relatively inexpensive way to get a lot of information out to a large audience that needs it the most.” To watch and listen to previous webinars, go to http://training.fws.gov/CSP/Resources/climate_change_webinars/archives.html.

Building Support for Conservation
In the past several years, NWF has implemented a wide range of programs and projects to educate and engage Native Americans, inner-city schoolchildren and other diverse groups across the country in crucial issues such as climate change. In recent months, the Federation significantly increased those efforts to build its base of support. “Our work has been particularly productive this year in our expanded outreach to African-American leaders and civil rights organizations for help in developing global warming solutions and education programs,” says Marc Littlejohn, NWF manager of diversity partnerships.

Finding solutions to global warming is especially important to communities of color, Littlejohn says, because the impacts of climate change “are disproportionately severe among them.” As warming brings more frequent and severe heat waves, such populations in cities will be especially at risk, observes Amanda Staudt, an NWF climate scientist. “Air pollution in urban areas could get worse, bringing increased risk of heart attacks, strokes and asthma attacks,” she says.

The organization’s outreach efforts received a boost in July, when delegates at the NAACP’s Centennial Convention approved a resolution to work with NWF for legislation that curbs global warming pollution and helps build a new energy economy. “The NAACP has opened a new front in the fight for clean energy,” says Jerome Ringo, former NWF board chairman and president of Apollo Alliance, a business and environmental partnership that seeks green innovations in energy and transportation.

Other recent NWF efforts include:

  • Inviting African American leaders from the business, faith, academic and scientific communities to Washington, D.C., to learn about climate change and to meet with federal decision makers;

  • Launching the www.fairclimateproject.org website to help build, mobilize, and support the network of leaders to whom NWF is reaching out;

  • Conducting its 8th annual Summer Institute in Atlanta, Georgia, in which area teens received training from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to become certified Climate Ambassadors and leaders in local action projects;

  • Working with historically black colleges and universities to provide scholarships for students from seven campuses to participate in Power Shift 2009, an effort to create clean-energy jobs and reduce fossil-fuel use; and

  • Signing on as a partner of Green the Block, a new national campaign designed to ensure that low-income communities and communities of color can benefit from a growing clean-energy economy.
    “It is critical that we continue to cultivate these new relationships while expanding this network,” says Littlejohn. “Through collaborative projects and initiatives, we will broaden the movement calling for climate action and raise new voices to communicate the public demand for national leadership on this issue.”

Time Spent Outdoors Linked to Success
The time children spend outside is linked to increased academic success, according to a new NWF report for teachers and parents. TIME OUT: Using the Outdoors to Enhance Classroom Performance includes tips on how to provide fun and valuable outdoor experiences for students, even with their busy school-year schedules. For the full report, go to Be Out There.

Students Lead Way to Sustainability
This fall NWF’s Campus Ecology program released a new guide, Students Leading for Sustainability: 35 Great Ways Students Are Advancing Climate Action on Campus. Based on interviews with students and faculty, published accounts, and reports from Campus Ecology field staff, the guide features examples of actions being taken at more than 160 schools—ranging from public to private and urban to rural—in 46 states and the District of Columbia. Featured student-led efforts include major changes in campus policies on energy sources and conservation, green building, green purchasing, food systems, habitat restoration, recycling and waste reduction.

“We wrote the guide to showcase the wide variety of ways students are leading the way and making real progress toward campus and community sustainability,” says coauthor David Eagan of the University of Wisconsin–Madison. “More importantly, we hope the stories in the guide will spark action by thousands more students on other campuses across the country.”

Subaru Shares the Love with NWF
Subaru of America, Inc. has once again stepped up to help conservation efforts as part of its second annual “Share the Love” campaign. During the company’s winter sales event, which runs from November 21, 2009, to January 4, 2010, Subaru will donate up to $250 for every new vehicle sold or leased to the customer’s choice of five nonprofits, including NWF.

“We created the Share the Love program to help charities and give back to the community,” says Tim Mahoney, senior vice president and CMO at Subaru. “We are continuing the program not only because it is the right thing to do, but also because it is part of our culture as an organization to support causes important to our customers.”

Last year Subaru donated $4.6 million to its designated charities, including nearly $800,000 to NWF. The Federation used the funds to support its efforts to confront global warming, safeguard places for wildlife and connect people with nature. To learn more about the “Share the Love” campaign, visit www.subaru.com.

Volunteers Honored for Contributions
Each year, NWF honors outstanding individuals who have volunteered their time and talents to support our mission. The 2009 recipients of our “Volunteer of the Year” awards are united by their strong commitment to create and foster wildlife-friendly habitats:

  • Rich Bergner, Community Volunteer of the Year: As leader of Washington state’s Fidalgo Island/Anacortes Community Wildlife Habitat project, Bergner and his team worked for and won NWF Community Wildlife Habitat certification in fewer than three years. NWF and the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife certified a total of 572 sites in the community, including 219 homes, 4 schools, 6 places of worship, 17 businesses, 6 parks and one senior center.

  • Peg Baseden, Affiliate Volunteer of the Year: Volunteering with NWF since the early 1990s and with our affiliate Delaware Nature Society since 2001, Baseden has helped numerous homeowners, businesses and others create wildlife-friendly gardens. She spurs action through collaboration with conservationists, government agencies and schools. Baseden also helps people connect to nature through NWF’s Green Hour and other education programs.

  • Kathy Lewis, Volunteer of the Year: A dedicated educator and an advocate for backyard wildlife habitats and getting kids outside, Lewis has led 34 programs for more than 1,200 adults and children. “When outdoors, you are in the homes of plants and animals,” says the president of the Beaver Creek Wildlife Education Center in East Liverpool, Ohio. “You do not need to fear, but you do need to respect.”

To volunteer, go to NWF Volunteer site.

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