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WWF celebrate 50th anniversary

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Martin Aaron Martin Aaron | 13:24 UK time, Friday, 17 June 2011

Head of WWF Cymru, Anne Meikle looks back at the charity's achievements and explains why in 2011, its work needs your support more than ever:

"Amid fears that hunting and habitat destruction would lead to the extinction of much of Africa's wildlife, WWF was formed in 1961. Now active in more than 100 countries, it is a leading environmental organisation, protecting threatened species and habitats".

"But despite our successes, the problems haven't gone away. As well as threatening rare and beautiful animals, our modern lifestyles are placing the world's resources under immense pressure, which threatens the future of both nature and human beings".

"The link with Wales stretches right back to our early days. In 1963, a WWF UK grant allowed the West Wales Naturalists' Trust to purchase Cardigan Island".

"Today, WWF Cymru is the Welsh office of WWF-UK, which in turn forms part of the world's largest environmental network. Since 2000, we've had a dedicated team based in Cardiff Bay, ensuring that the environment and sustainability are high on the political and media agendas".

"We've lobbied the Welsh Government on various issues, including climate change and renewable energy. We've had growing success year-on-year with our Earth Hour appeal, with people switching off their lights for an hour to express their concerns about climate change and the need to safeguard the planets resources".

"We've had fantastic support from Welsh councils, AMs and Welsh Ministers, with the lights going out at some of our most iconic buildings".

Head of WWF Cymru Anne Meikle with Jonathon Porritt at the Hay Festival.

Head of WWF Cymru, Anne Meikle with Jonathon Porritt at the Hay Festival.

"The fundamental challenge we face today is the same as 50 years ago: how can large numbers of people have a decent standard of living, without destroying the planet's biodiversity and in turn, destroying their children's future?"

"It's no longer possible, for example, to protect somewhere like the Amazon just by working with local people. We must challenge the things that drive deforestation, like the market for timber and the way we feed our animals. We also have to reduce the effects a changing climate will have upon the Amazon".

"That is why WWF Cymru is working with the Welsh Assembly and other organisations in Wales to reduce our impact on the planet. We are proud that the Welsh government has adopted our goal of a 'One Planet Wales'".

"So today, while WWF works to restore, for example, the tiger population in central Asia, WWF Cymru is supporting the global conservation work here in Wales".

"We're encouraging Welsh consumers to buy fish with the logo of the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC), which we worked to establish with Unilever, and we're working to safeguard our seas and coastline by ensuring they are planned and managed more sustainably".

"We're calling for Welsh councils to make sure they buy responsibly sourced wood and paper and persuading the Welsh Government - through Stop Climate Chaos Cymru - to dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions".

"These are just some of the many fantastic achievements of WWF over the past 50 years. Despite the looming threats, I am optimistic".

"I'm proud of all we've achieved so far and I hope that in our 50th anniversary year, more people will join the 20,000 active supporters we already have in Wales and work towards a planet on which people and nature thrive".

Watch a video explaining the work of the WWF in Wales and the rest of the world.


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