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USAID supports biodiversity conservation and sustainable forest management in more than 50 countries. We partner with foreign governments, civil society, the private sector, and local communities to help them conserve and benefit from natural resources. With USAID assistance in 2011:
- About 630,000 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 250 million acres of natural resources were under improved management, mostly in high-biodiversity areas, equivalent in size to California, Nevada and New Mexico combined.
USAID Strategy and Program Focus
Biodiversity is a foundation for human development because the goods and services provided by biodiverse ecosystems are essential to human well-being:
- At least 1.6 billion people depend on forests for food, fuel or marketable timber and non-timber products.
- About 2.6 billion people in developing countries rely on wild fisheries for protein and income.
- Everyone benefits from ecosystem goods and services daily, from wood and paper to clean air and water.
Conservation secures these values and protects investments in other development sectors by ensuring that gains in poverty alleviation, food and water security, human health, and disaster risk reduction can be sustained over the long term. USAID programs also help local people gain the rights to govern and benefit from natural resources:
- Conservation enterprises like ecotourism create jobs and generate income in underserved areas.
- Protected 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.
In FY 2011, USAID invested $188 million to address threats to biodiversity in high-priority forests, grasslands, coral reefs and other ecosystems. These efforts combined with others in climate change mitigation, agroforestry and forest restoration resulted in $232 million in FY 2011 actions to conserve or better manage forests.
Every country has important biodiversity, but 70 percent of all plant and animal species are found in tropical forests. USAID biodiversity funds are focused on countries with globally significant ecosystems and where conservation advances other development objectives. An Agency Biodiversity Policy under development will articulate how priorities are determined, promote integration of conservation approaches and objectives into other sectors, and encourage continued USAID leadership advancing innovation and best practices in biodiversity conservation, both in USAID field programs and among the wider community of donors, conservation organizations, and international conventions.
Bureau for Economic Growth, Education and Environment (E3)’s Role
E3’s Office of Forestry and Biodiversity (FAB) provides a range of assistance to operating units with relevant programs while managing its own portfolio and representing USAID activities and interests within the Agency, across the U.S. government, and among the local and international community. The FAB office is the Agency lead on biodiversity and forest issues, and a partner with the E3 Offices of Global Climate Change (GCC) and Land Tenure and Resource Management (LTRM) in the areas of climate change mitigation, markets for ecosystem services, community-based natural resource management, and conservation enterprises.
The FAB Office provides handbooks and other guidance, training, and direct technical assistance to USAID colleagues engaged in developing and managing conservation programs. We also manage several activities which address global drivers of biodiversity and forest loss, capturing lessons learned that can be applied to other field programs. Unsustainable fishing, illegal logging, wildlife trafficking, transboundary landscapes and REDD+ are major areas of focus and applied research.
The FAB Office works closely with regional bureaus, especially those for Africa, Asia and Latin America and the Caribbean, to coordinate assistance to field programs. It also engages with the Bureau for Food Security, Bureau for Global Health, and Bureau for Democracy, Conflict and Humanitarian Assistance on cross-cutting issues and to advance integrated programs. The Office of Science & Technology is a close collaborator in several efforts.
Agreements with the US Forest Service, African Wildlife Foundation, Pact, Wildlife Conservation Society and World Wildlife Fund support work fulfilling specific E3 conservation objectives while making rapid technical assistance available to other operating units. Public-private partnerships help conserve species valued as commodities, including a sustainable fisheries alliance coordinated by FHI 360, involving Darden Restaurants (Red Lobster, Oliver Garden), University of Rhode Island, numerous NGOs, and fisheries authorities. Another partnership managed by World Resources Institute helps companies like Staples and Martin Guitars confirm that paper and wood products are legally sourced in the country of origin. Other E3 implementing partners include CIFOR, Conservation Strategy Fund, DAI, Environmental Incentives, Foundations of Success, ICF International, Rainforest Alliance, Tetra Tech, TRAFFIC, and the World Bank.
For More Information
Last updated: March 27, 2013