2018 Conservation Successes

January 23, 2019

Going into 2019, we wanted to look back at some of the large and small positive conservation stories from the past 12 months. Read on for a selection of stories from 2018!

Atlantic Puffin, Puffin Island, Wales
Photo Will Bevan
In September, the Marine Conservation Society organised the biggest beach clean ever seen in the UK. The event targeted 494 beaches and attracted almost 15,000 volunteers who picked up 8,550 kgs of plastic waste! The organisation have ongoing events which are advertised here.

Businesses in the UK are responding to pressure from the public to reduce their plastic waste. Waitrose have pledged to remove plastic bags (both fruit & veg bags and carrier bags), black plastic (which is harder to recycle) and glitter from their own brand products. The company has already removed plastic straws from stores, and disposable coffee cups from 300 of their 348 stores. Iceland plan for their own brand products to be completely plastic free by 2023. 

This year, retailers in the UK, Canada, New Zealand and Taiwan were banned from selling personal care products containing microbeads. This includes items such as toothpaste, shower gel and face wash. News from previous years can be found here.

Two marine protected areas were designated by the Seychelles government in the Indian Ocean archipelago. The areas cover over 81,000 square miles (roughly the size of Great Britain!). The government hopes the plan will protect endangered marine animals as well as support sustainable fisheries and tourism.

Belize banned offshore oil and gas drilling, and now their barrier reef is no longer considered one of UNESCO's World Heritage sites in danger.


Red Colobus Monkey, Kibale National Park, Uganda
Photo Will Bevan
Colombia’s Serranía de Chiribiquete, which is a protected part of the Amazon rainforest, was expanded by 3 million acres. It has been named a UNESCO World Heritage site and is the largest protected tropical rainforest in the world.

Ecosia is a free search engine which uses its profits to plant trees where they are most needed. As of this year they have planted over 45 million trees and the number is quickly increasing!

£23 million was set aside to restore the ancient Scottish Caledonian forests which will provide habitats for many threatened species such as capercaillie, white tailed eagles and pine martens. It is set to be the largest habitat restoration project in Britain.

Alberta Parks began work on creating the world's largest boreal forest preserve by adding 13,000 square km of forest, wetland, lakes and rivers to Wood Buffalo National Park. This will be a protected area roughly twice the size of Vancouver Island! This area will support populations of bison, caribou, lynx and bears.

Back from the Brink

Fin whales (Balaenoptera physalus) have improved in status from endangered to vulnerable as their population is now at 100,000 individuals - roughly double the amount in the 1970s. This is thanks to the 1976 ban on commercial whaling in the North Pacific and Southern Hemisphere.

Mountain gorillas (Gorilla beringei beringei) were downlisted from critically endangered to endangered. The population has increased from 680 to over 1,000 individuals since 2008. The success is a result of anti-poaching patrols and veterinary assistance in removing snares.

The White-winged Guan (Penelope albipennis) has been downgraded from critically endangered to endangered. The main threats to the population were hunting and habitat loss, but campaigns targeting local people have led to recovery for the species.

The Wondiwoi tree kangaroo was last seen in 1928 and presumed extinct until this year when it was photographed in New Guinea, proving there is much more for us to still discover around the world.

Hong Kong
Photo Will Bevan
December saw some positive climate change news from the Global Carbon Project. Lower carbon dioxide emissions were recorded for 19 countries as well as renewable power capacity being at a record high.

In China, carbon emissions have decreased every year since 2013. The country pledged to peak their COemissions by 2030, but have instead achieved this 12 years early.

Inspiring people

In an uplifting opinion piece for the New York Times, Hansjörg Wyss pledged to donate $1 billion dollars as he hopes to protect 30% of the earth's surface by 2030.

The CEO of Patagonia pledged to donate $10 million from federal tax cuts to organisations working to reduce the damages of climate change.

Dr David Vaughan accidentally discovered that by breaking up coral, they grow 40 times faster. His success means he has postponed his retirement and is instead aiming to collaborate with scientists around the world to plant one million corals in the next two years.

Surfers Against Sewage are encouraging people to sign up to lead their local community into becoming plastic free. 438 communities have taken on this challenge already. News, success stories and advice on how to join in can be found here.


  1. Good luck guys, the more we can all promote the better for wildlife and the planet, have a great 2019.

  2. Good luck guys, the more we can all promote the better for wildlife and the planet, have a great 2019.

    1. Hi Ralph, thanks for visiting! We completely agree - we're really looking forward to spreading some positive conservation news :)


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