The Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), an organization dedicated to conserving wildlife and wild places worldwide, has unveiled a strategic plan to preserve the world’s largest wild places, home to more than 50 percent of the world’s biodiversity.
Among the places on WCS’s list of 15 “Global Priority Regions” are Eastern North American Forests, including the Adirondacks and Northern Ontario and their boreal forests.
The plan, WCS: 2020, seeks to reverse the decline of six priority groups of species across their range and calls for the maintaining viable populations of critically endangered species in WCS’s five wildlife parks in New York City, including the Bronx Zoo and New York Aquarium.
“The urgency to preserve the world’s wildlife, and all of its biodiversity demands that we step up our efforts beyond conservation as usual,” WCS President and CEO Cristián Samper said in a statement to the press. “Our choices today can give us a fighting chance to save wildlife – to preserve the intricate balance of species and the systems that all lives depend on. WCS: 2020 addresses that urgency.”
“A major emphasis in our strategy is the importance of collaboration. To achieve our ambitious goal, we will continue to form partnerships to ensure we can leverage our impact to truly address the enormous threats facing wildlife and all of nature. We commit ourselves with this strategy to stay focused on our mission to save wildlife, while also realizing our work cannot be implemented in a vacuum and without partners,” Samper’s statement said.
“Last week, the United Nations General Assembly adopted 17 Sustainable Development Goals. These goals are an action plan ‘for people, planet and prosperity.’ With our 2020 strategy, we commit to supporting the world’s agenda and to recognize that the health and welfare of people and communities across the globe are inextricably connected to the mission of protecting wildlife and wild places.”
WCS: 2020 includes three core strategies:
Discover Through Science: WCS will produce and disseminate the information and knowledge necessary to inform and improve conservation and management action in the wild places that we seek to conserve, and to measure the impact of our work.
Protect Through Conservation Action: WCS will help to conserve ecologically intact wild places in 15 priority terrestrial and marine regions and their wildlife, and reverse the decline of six priority groups of species across their range– elephants, apes, big cats, sharks & rays, whales & dolphins, and tortoises & freshwater turtles. We will also help maintain viable populations of critically endangered species in our zoos and aquarium.
Inspire Through Engagement and Education: WCS will activate a conservation movement of a diverse, influential and enduring global audience that is invested and empowered to protect wild nature, using the powerful experiences at our zoos and aquarium; enduring impact of our education programs; and the great reach of digital tools.
The priority regions include:
- Arctic Beringia (Arctic coasts and seas of Alaska, Western Canada, and Russia)
- Spine of the North American Continent (North American coniferous forests)
- Eastern North American Forests (Adirondacks, Northern Ontario, and boreal forests)
- New York Seascape (Coasts and seas of the mid-Atlantic)
- Mesoamerica & Western Caribbean (Forests, coasts, and coral reefs in Belize, Cuba, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua)
- Andes, Amazon & Orinoco (Forests, grasslands, and wetlands of Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and Venezuela)
- Patagonia (Coasts of Argentina and Chile)
- Central Africa & Gulf of Guinea (Forests and coast, including Burundi, Cameroon, Democratic Republic of Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Nigeria, Republic of Congo, Rwanda, and Uganda)
- Eastern African Forests & Savannah (Savannah, woodland, and forest including Kenya, Mozambique, South Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia)
- Madagascar and Western Indian Ocean (Coral reefs and island forests of Kenya, Madagascar, Mozambique, and Tanzania)
- Temperate Asian Mountains and Grasslands (Grasslands, forests, and mountains of central and northeast Asia)
- South Asia and Bay of Bengal (Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, and Nepal)
- Greater Mekong & Coast (Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, and Vietnam)
- Southeast Asian Archipelago (Forests, coasts, and reefs of Indonesia and Malaysia)
- Melanesia (“Ridge to reef” in Fiji, Papua New Guinea, and Solomon Islands)
The priority species are: elephants, apes, big cats, sharks and rays, whales and dolphins, and tortoises and freshwater turtles. WCS: 2020 argues that these threatened species are deeply valued, critical to the ecological functioning of the priority landscapes and seascapes, and will serve as models for the conservation.
The WCS: 2020 strategic plan can be found here.