Conserving Biodiversity and Forests

Community forest mapping
In West Africa, USAID has conducted sustainable forest management planning workshops in the Outamba-Kilimi National Park and Madina Oula/Oure Kaba priority zone. This activity brought together community members to plan out their forest needs.
Stephanie Otis/USFS International Programs

Biodiversity—the variety and variability of life on Earth—is a critical foundation for human welfare and development. Every country has important biodiversity, but biodiversity is concentrated in tropical forests, where 70 percent of all plants and animals live.  

Biodiversity loss has accelerated from just a few species going extinct each year to an estimated 1,000 species disappearing annually. The collective actions of seven billion people are undermining the natural resource base and threaten to erode development gains around the world. For example, a quarter of commercially exploited fish stocks may already be overharvested, and tropical forest cover continues to decline and thereby increase the rate and negative impacts of global climate change.

Biodiversity and forests sustain lives:

  • At least 1.6 billion people depend on forests for some part of their livelihood.
  • About 2.6 billion people in developing countries depend on wild fisheries for protein and income.
  • Billions of people use forest goods and services daily, from timber and fruit to clean air and water.

Conservation is development:

  • Ecotourism and other conservation enterprises create jobs and generate income in underserved areas.
  • Conservation zones in wetlands and coastal areas make fishing more lucrative and sustainable.
  • Community forest management groups have helped maintain order during conflict and restore governance systems in other sectors.

As biodiverse ecosystems break down, people are forced to find alternative, and often more costly, ways to meet basic needs, while losing a priceless global natural heritage.To stem the tide of species loss while maintaining and improving livelihoods, USAID supports biodiversity conservation and sustainable forest management in more than 50 countries. We work in partnership with foreign governments, civil society, the private sector, and local communities to help them conserve and benefit from natural resources.

With USAID assistance in 2010:

  • At least 930,000 people around the world had increased economic benefits from sustainable natural resource management and conservation.
  • Forest conservation in the Congo basin and Southeast Asia resulted in climate change benefits equivalent to taking 1.5 million cars off American roads for one year.
  • Worldwide, more than 175 million acres of biologically significant areas were better managed, an area the size of California and Nevada combined.

The impact of USAID biodiversity and forestry programs is expected to increase in the next five years with the implementation of new Agency strategies for addressing climate change and conserving biodiversity.



USAID's Biodiversity Conservation and Forestry Programs, 2013 Report  (PDF 3MB)

Sustainable Fisheries and Responsible Aquaculture:  A Guide for USAID Staff and Partners (PDF 10MB)

Related Sectors of Work 

Last updated: February 11, 2014

Share This Page