WWF focuses on development

Environmental charity WWF is extending its traditional conservation work to include more economic development projects than ever before in its 40-year history.

The charity is encouraging thousands of peasant farmers in China to move away from rice farming, which has a high impact on the environment, and into "low-impact" livestock and fish farming. Next year it will deliver a freshwater management system in the Amazon river basin, Brazil, and later this year the charity hopes to get the go-ahead for an £80 billion project managing eight sustainable river basin schemes in Africa.

WWF's development work has increased significantly thanks to a £12.4 million donation from HSBC under the five-year Investing In Nature programme.

"WWF has been working on the sustainable development agenda for 20 years but it's only now that we're getting the resources together to make a difference of this scale,

said WWF's director of programmes Francis Sullivan.

"Whereas in the past our work has affected thousands of people, this will affect millions."

Thirty million people will benefit from a project WWF is involved with in the area surrounding the Yangtze River, China, according to the charity. Joining up environmental concerns with developmental ones had become a "necessity" explained Sullivan.

The charity hopes to get "significant funding" from the World Summit for Sustainable Development in Johannesburg later this year. WWF has submitted a proposal for sustainable management of eight major river basins in Africa, including the Congo.

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