Today at WILD9 / Hoy en WILD9

WILD9 is a success! Over the 8 days of WILD9, we gathered together to THINK, FEEL and ACT.

WILD9 was opened by President Felipe Calderon, and attended by 1800 delegates from 50 countries, with 10,000 on-line participants from 100 countries. WILD9 conveyed an extraordinary atmosphere of hope and enthusiasm, hosted a diverse range of working session and featured a plenary program with world leaders such as Dr. Jane Goodall; Dr. Sylvia Earle; Dr Pavan Sukhdev; Chief Tashka Yawanawa; Grand Chief Samuel Gargan; numerous Ministers; the heads of land management agencies from North America and other regions; Heinz Center Director Dr. Thomas Lovejoy; Nobel laureate Mario Molina; Dr. Amory Lovins; Dr Exequiel Ezcurra; and many others.

Download the summary of WILD9 Accomplishments >

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See Photos of WILD9 >

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News! - Noticas! - Nouvelles!

Our team in Mali announces recommendations for post-war reconciliation; helping re-establish healthy communities & secure desert elephants

July 11, 2014

Mali Elephants #1 010_web

Mali is no longer in the headlines but that does not mean that everything is back to normal! (1)

The Gourma region of central Mali –  home to the desert elephants and many small human communities – is contained on three sides by the great bend in the Niger river, and is starting the difficult task of rebuilding and reintegrating following the trauma of war.

These conditions prompted a national conference on reconciliation, facilitated by the Mali Elephant Project’s local team, the recommendations of which were announced by our team at a press conference in Mali during the week of 6 July.  One of the main preoccupations of the journalists at the press conference was whether the elephants were factors in community reconciliation, and what mechanisms there might be for involving communities in the process of reconciliation. Elephants and the local people both require a healthy, productive and diverse ecosystem.

Map of elephant range

One of the biggest impacts of the jihadist war and the earlier Tuareg rebellion has been the social wounds caused by different survival strategies adopted by specific individuals that  re-awoke and magnifed old social tensions – plus  created new ones. These different survival strategies adopted by locally influential people create negative conditions in their area and in how their communities and socio-ethnic groups are perceived by others.

This situation is exacerbated by the residual insecurity in the region, largely due to banditry perpetrated by those who joined the armed groups and who are reluctant to return to their communities for fear of retribution. As a result, displaced people are reluctant to return to their original communities.

Firebreak team

Our work with the communities demonstrated clearly that the weakening of social bonds poses a threat to the environment, because the sustainable management of natural resources requires communities to work together peaceably for their common interest of preventing resource degradation and destruction. Further, our work conclusively showed that natural resource management is an excellent way to bring communities together to help heal these wounds.

For example, the project strategies confirmed  that the teamwork required to build fire-breaks around the pasture reserves – the existence of which are a key factor in meeting the needs of the communities so they can stay out of the elephant migration route — has  re-established and strengthened social relations. Days spent working together, sharing meals, and evenings around a fire, promote the sharing of experience and mutual understanding, and the realisation that the actions of a few do not mean that the whole community or clan need be tarred with the same brush.

Mali Elephants #1 103_web

Other questions at the press conference centred around how we arrived at the conclusions. A survey of the population had helped us identify 8 categories of people according to their survival strategy. Each of these require different approaches for their reintegration, and this formed the basis of a national workshop bringing high-level government in dialogue with community representatives to chart the way forward.

We are now pleased to launch the final paper. To assure success in the critically important post-conflict reconciliation, the first two main conclusions are:

  • Post-conflict reconciliation and reconstruction must involve local communities from the start
  • Repairing the social fabric is a prerequisite for ensuring the social, economic and environmental sustainability of reconstruction initiatives in the Gourma region of Mali

Background: Local people are familiar with the pre-conflict situation and can help to ensure that compensation is fair; minimise the risk of aid exacerbating social divisions; and minimise the risk of aid falling into the wrong hands.

They can help determine the needs for reintegrating displaced people, particularly important as young men who are unable to return to their communities risk radicalisation and/or engaging in criminal activity.

They know who has committed what crimes and can help the process of justice. They also know who has arms and can help recover them.

Mali Elephants #1 088_web

The third conclusion, as suggested earlier, is that:

  • Social resilience and environmental resilience are tightly linked, and resilience is key to surviving change and disturbance.

Background:  Local livelihoods demand healthy ecosystems, and the availability of natural resources; while community cohesion is necessary to avoid overexploitation. Development which places an added burden on the environment (such as new settlements) or on social relations (such as new water-points) must be avoided.

Otherwise, the management of reconstruction, the return of refugees, and development, risks reigniting tensions and sowing the seeds of future social and environmental problems which would be difficult to control.

These conclusions provided the basis for a phased action plan of concrete activities. We’ll report further on their application in the coming months.

The WILD Foundation and the International Conservation Fund of Canada wish to thank the UK Government’s Darwin Initiative for its support of this initiative.

(1) A good summary of the current situation can be found in a recent piece by Simon Allison

> Learn more about the Mali Elephant Project

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Partnership extended between Rewilding Europe and WILD

June 26, 2014

The WILD Foundation and Rewilding Europe have extended their partnership by signing a ‘Collaborative Conservation Agreement’ for 2014-2015. The partnership will build on the successful cooperation thus far and will focus on building further upon the results of WILD10 (the 10th World Wilderness Congress—WWC), planning of the next WWC (WILD11), sharing of networks and best practice models (in particular between North America, Africa and Europe), fostering intergenerational work in Europe such as CoalitionWILD (‘Rising Leaders for a Wider World’),  and further promotion of the ‘Vision for a Wilder Europe’ (launched at WILD10 in October 2013, and currently being updated for publishing and distribution in July).

Frans Schepers RWE

Frans Schepers, Rewilding Europe

“WILD10 has provided Europe with a great platform to increase the interest in rewilding, wilderness protection and wildlife comeback,” says Frans Schepers, Managing Director of Rewilding Europe. “Also the role of The WILD Foundation in facilitating and supporting the ‘Vision for a Wilder Europe’ has been instrumental. In our renewed partnership agreement with The WILD Foundation, we will continue to build on these successes, putting our work in Europe in a global perspective, sharing and learning from other examples in the world.”

Vision for Wilder EuropeVance G. Martin, President of WILD and the WWC, is equally enthusiastic about the continuing collaboration.  “Rewilding Europe is doing important work- demonstrating that wild nature and humankind can live together, in a new manner, on the world’s most densely populated continent. What they are learning and accomplishing will provide important guidelines for work in many other regions of the world.  It will certainly complement, inform, and strengthen the global work that WILD and the Wilderness Foundation do through our projects, our network, and the World Wilderness Congress.”

Rewilding Europe was established in 2011 to enhance and expand the return of wilderness and wildlife to Europe, and has developed a progressive and ambitious program called the “The Rewilding 10” — restoring wild nature, connecting human livelihoods to wild nature  in 1o large areas throughout Europe. Download their 2013 Annual Review.

The WILD Foundation began in Africa and then established in the USA in 1974. The Foundation is based in Colorado and works for wilderness, wildlife and people in the US and throughout the world, with its working partner The Wilderness Foundation and scores of close collaborators and associates. WILD is founder/steward of the World Wilderness Congress.  Download our Annual Report 2013 >

 > Download the press release

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Mali poachers caught!… A superb response to a tragedy

June 24, 2014

We have good news! After the tragic poaching incidence of 13th-14th May, we received a superb response from many of our supporters and the Malian government. Thank you to everyone who helped out!  The incident was a tragedy, but the response within Mali was extraordinary, and never seen before.  It is clear evidence that our work with the communities and elephants has convinced people at all levels that a healthy and safe herd of elephants is directly linked to the health and well-being of human communities.  Here’s what occurred, and what many of you helped make possible:

Mali elephant huddle

In Mali, the Chief of Defense told us “I am committed to the elephants” and immediately responded by mounting a military air and ground mission. Working in conjunction with our community brigades, they apprehended and jailed the actual poachers, and also arrested the main ring leader (who motivated and paid the poachers).  We also learned that this ring-leader had been the instigator of a few of the other isolated poaching incidents in Central Mali.

Lake Banzena

Lake Banzena

The Environment Minister – our colleague and a supporter of the Mali Elephant Project – immediately brought the incident to the attention of the Cabinet of Ministers and took the opportunity to explain the importance of the unique and vulnerable desert elephants to local communities and to the nation as a whole. The government responded with a commitment of money to create additional forester posts throughout the elephant range (in partnership with Gabon’s Agency for National Parks, ANPN), and to repair the water supply (boreholes) that had been sabotaged by fleeing jihadis. These boreholes had been a key part of the plan devised in conjunction with the local population, whereby they would  leave  Lake Banzena for elephant use only, if we could help them  relocate to an area of good pasture outside the elephant range, by providing water for them. Lake Banzena is the only water available for elephants at the end of the dry season and therefore the lynch-pin of their migration. This is explained in more detail and illustrated here.

Drilling the boreholes

Drilling the boreholes

The US Embassy in Mali has also been extremely supportive. We met personally with Ambassador Leonard and her senior staff, and she cleared the way for US resources to be used to assess the damage to, and repair, critical local ecological infrastructure destroyed during the war.  We’ll report on that soon!



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Advancing Ocean Conservation: Marine Wilderness 10+10 Project

June 8, 2014

Recently launched by way of an international workshop in Imperial Beach, California, the Marine Wilderness 10+10 (MW10+10) Project is bringing to life tales of recovery from human-caused demise to wild marine life. “Marine wilderness” means intact, functioning, and balanced ecological systems that sustain abundant sea life, healthy places for marine species to spawn and nurture their young, safe stopovers for migrating birds, and generally areas valued because they are truly wild. In May, 20 sites were selected and will be announced at summer’s end after a process of vetting and team-building involving existing site managers and local community leaders. Over half these sites are along the Pacific Coast of North America and in the Caribbean.

Isla Coronado

The MW10+10 is driven by a consortium of small NGOs teamed up with top level professional photographers and filmmakers – amenable to partnering with scientists, local Indigenous and community groups, government agencies, ethical businesses, and philanthropists aligned with the singularly-defined idea of “marine wilderness,” and using replicable project mechanisms for better management, community engagement, monitoring, and enforcement.

“The principal tool for bringing back an area lost to overfishing and human development impacts is the Marine Wilderness Site Plan, which uses a template common to all sites but allows for customizing site management and enforcement terms to address the needs of stakeholders enabled to envision why ‘getting to a marine wilderness state’ is in their interest,” says Julie Randall of The WILD Foundation, who has worked with partners, including the US Fish and Wildlife Service, to build the marine wilderness collaborative since 2008.

MW 10+10 Committee

MW 10+10 Committee

“The Site Plan also contains a communications strategy that uses visuals and quick-and-easy to understand scientific data to incentivize policy-makers as well as local people and other stakeholders to act now,” says Fay Crevoshay, Director of Policy & Communications for WILDCOAST/COASTAL SALVAJE.

“Cabo Pulmo is the ‘poster child’ for the MW10+10 – an incredible reef restored and resupplying the local fishery but threatened by mega coastal development proposed close to the National Park” says Dr. Octavio Aburto, a Scripps Institution of Oceanography scientist and also award-winning photographer and founder of Natural Numbers with fellow International League of Conservation Photographers (iLCP) colleague Jaime Rojo and Dr. Exequiel Ezcurra.

Photo by Octavio Aburto

Conservation photography and film is integral to the MW10+10 site plans. Argues Healthy Reefs Initiative director Melanie McField, “There is no better tool than full color photos and film of reefs teeming with vibrant corals and colorful parrotfish and hosting the occasional sea turtle or shark to make people think more deeply about the last reef they saw while snorkeling on vacation and confront the probable causes of dead corals, algae overgrowth and devoid of fish life that has become the norm on most reefs.”

“The conservation photography of the MW10+10 also captures the human story – artisanal fishing communities forced further out to sea only to catch fewer and smaller fish for a longer day’s work,” adds iLCP Associate Fellow Jason Houston. “It’s not only an environmental issue but also a humanitarian one. Because of their deep cultural connections to the ocean and reliance on it for food, these communities’ involvement in finding sustainable solutions is essential.”

Briannon Fraley, Self-Governance Director, Tolowa Dee-ni’ of the Smith River Rancheria, is taking the lead on a site called Pyramid Point in Northern California. She says, “The integration of the indigenous world view into conservation through this consortium brings a refreshing perspective to the meaning of wilderness. The concept of wilderness absent of people is not an effective approach to long term health of our marine ecosystems. We need to educate the general public on how to respectfully interact with the ecosystem, resulting in successful outcomes of Marine Wilderness. The work the Tribe is doing in stewardship is an important focal feature the Site Plan will highlight through this project.”

Photo by Jaime Rojo

“Marine wilderness areas are refugia for wildlife but also the best ‘control group’ for studying climate change effects on the ocean,” comments John Schmerfeld, Climate Change Coordinator for the US Fish and Wildlife Service. Places led by association with highly endangered iconic species – charismatic draws for attention and well as health-indicative threads of the food web – the MW10+10 sites will also squarely place appropriate blame on perpetrators of trash that wildlife ingests and suffocating algae blooms caused by pollution.

In celebration of World Oceans Day, the MW10+10 is announced to be more than just words on a page or pictures on a screen. They will be action projects uniting the talents and commitment of various conservation actors around a commonly understood goal, able to catalyze change that protects and brings back the wild for good.

The Marine Wilderness 10+10 (MW10+10) Project was initiated at the 10th World Wilderness Congress in fall 2013 to enable a collaborative of conservation scientists, practitioners, policymakers, and “frontline” photographers/filmmakers – teaming up with Indigenous and local community leaders, philanthropists, fishers, ethical maritime and tourism business people, explorers, recreationists, educators, youth leaders, and others – to form action teams and contribute talent and expertise to “bring back the wild” in 20 marine/freshwater sites around the world. Core MW10+10 partners The WILD Foundation, WILDCOAST/COSTASALVAJE, Healthy Reefs Initiative, Sea Legacy, Natural Numbers, Khaled bin Sultan Living Oceans Foundation, Jason Houston Photography, and US Fish and Wildlife Service are organizing the site teams this summer.  Follow the latest news here.

> Download the official press release here

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Biomatrix Water: Bringing nature back to cities

May 30, 2014

Biomatrix logoWILD is pleased to announce our partnership, through our WILD Cities Project, with Biomatrix Water!  Biomatrix is an ecological design, education & technology company that researches, builds and operates projects that enhance urban quality of living through improved ecological conditions.  Based in Moray, Scotland, Biomatrix has worked throughout the world providing products and services to meet the growing demand for ecological water technology that is both functional, attractive and sustainable.  The founding partners have over twenty years experience in ecological engineering for waterway restoration and wastewater treatment.  The first river/lake restoration floating island was launched in 1991. Read more about our partnership here >

Biomatrix believes that by combining the wise use of durable modern materials with biomimicry processes, they can use their engineering and design innovation expertise to provide effective solutions to the problems of water pollution and habitat degradation that many urban places are faced with today. Their services are used internationally by: city councils, water agencies, river basin managers, restoration organizations, landscape architects, ecologists, property developers, conservationists, private clients and environmental engineers. Biomatrix has installed projects in the UK, USA, Philippines, India, Brazil and China.

Hicklin Lake project- Biomatrix

Installation of a project in Hicklin Lake in Seattle, WA, 2013

In addition, their floating active islands & active edges can be custom designed to create an ideal habitat for wildlife. Birds thrive when they have a safe and comfortable place to nest and live. Fish populations thrive and are able to seek shelter and habitat to feed amongst the plant roots. Other species that benefit from the Biomatrix Active Ecosystems are turtles, frogs, otters and butterflies. The diversity of the plants that live on the islands add beauty and attract lovely pollinators!

From concrete wall to floating ecosystem: Biomatrix Water and partners were commissioned by the Canal & River Trust to provide river bank protection and new habitat, to restore a vertical concrete edged section of the River Brent. The project team was tasked with creating new riparian habitat without obstructing flow or navigability of the waterway. View the photos below to see the progression after the installation, and view the Floating Edge case study to learn more.




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