Conserving Biodiversity for a Sustainable Future

Environment, Energy, and Infrastructure

Conservation is development. USAID achieves cross-cutting results through programming that protects priority land and seascapes and promotes the security, health, and prosperity of local communities.

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Conserving biodiversity and forests is one of the most important steps we can take to mitigate climate change and biodiversity loss while reducing the risk of disease spillover and potential future pandemics.

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— USAID Administrator Samantha Power

Conservation is an American tradition that creates and sustains economic opportunity and protects the plants, animals, and natural places that communities need to thrive. By investing in the world’s priority biodiversity areas, USAID helps the world’s most vulnerable people secure better health and well-being outcomes while managing and conserving their natural wealth.

Across Latin America & the Caribbean, USAID fosters community-led natural resource management. In the Republic of Guatemala, USAID investments support the management of the Maya Biosphere Reserve, the largest protected area in Central America. In FY 2020, USAID assistance led to 3,898 new jobs and $22.7 million in forest product sales from certified forest concessions in the Maya Biosphere Reserve, Verapaces, and Western Highlands.
Jason Houston / USAID

Learn how conservation and other development sectors work together.

Guided by the Agency’s Biodiversity Policy and Environmental and Natural Resource Management Framework, USAID works in approximately 60 countries to conserve biodiversity, leverage private sector funds, fight conservation crime, and support sustainable fisheries. USAID’s work is more critical than ever: Nature is declining at unprecedented rates in human history and an estimated 1 million plant and animal species face extinction. Declines in biodiversity and ecosystem services threaten to undermine progress already achieved toward many global development goals and our ability to effectively support partner countries’ economies, global health, security, and capabilities to adapt to a changing climate.

USAID's Biodiversity Policy

USAID aims to shape a future in which both people and nature thrive. The Agency’s Biodiversity Policy builds on a long history of conserving biodiversity and reflects the critical role of natural systems in achieving development goals.

Environmental and Natural Resource Management Framework


The Environmental and Natural Resource Management (ENRM) Framework serves as an Agency-wide guiding document to ensure USAID investments in all sectors bring environmental considerations to the forefront. Sound stewardship of natural resources has implications for nearly everything USAID is trying to help governments, civil society, and the private sector in our partner countries achieve.

USAID invests in biodiversity conservation because:

  • Approximately 1.6 billion people worldwide rely on forests for their livelihoods, especially the rural poor.

  • Biodiversity loss increases risks of disease and poor nutrition.

  • Environmental sectors, like forestry and fisheries, are important entry points for women’s economic empowerment.

  • Biodiversity keeps soils fertile, agricultural pests in check, and supports pollinators that sustain and improve food security through increased agricultural productivity.

  • Fighting environmental crime and  corruption in rural communities improves  safety and opportunities for legal livelihoods.

Biodiversity Conservation and Forestry Programs Annual Report


To satisfy the requirements of Sections 118(f) and 119(h) of Part I of Public Law 87-195, the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961, as amended, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) submits this report on our programming to conserve forests and biodiversity

Learn how USAID conservation programming is making a difference.

Combating Wildlife Trafficking



Consumer demand and transnational organized criminal networks are driving the illicit trade of wildlife and wildlife products. The illegal trade has evolved into one of the world's largest black markets and is valued at tens of billions of dollars. A broad development issue, wildlife crime threatens wildlife populations, wildlife-friendly livelihoods such as ecotourism, and community lands. The activities of criminal networks fuel global corruption and harm local communities and the ecosystems where they live.

Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated Fishing


Sustainable management and conservation of fisheries and other marine and coastal resources support countries in their journey to self-reliance and promote national security—particularly because more than 3 billion people worldwide depend on fisheries for their food security and jobs. Illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing comes at a high cost to people involved in catching, processing, and consuming seafood around the world. In FY21, USAID invested more than $60 million in over 20 countries to promote sustainable fisheries and conserve marine biodiversity. The Agency’s work to combat illegal fishing focuses on strengthening resource governance and management and promoting seafood traceability.

Illegal Logging and Deforestation



Worth an estimated $51–$152 billion annually, the illegal timber industry simultaneously threatens the world’s forests and steals from local communities that rely on forests for food, health, and wealth. The corruption associated with illegal logging weakens the rule of law and fuels the cycle of transnational crime.

Explore USAID’s conservation projects and technical approaches, and find tools and guidance related to USAID biodiversity programming, at the Agency’s global knowledge portal to advance USAID’s Biodiversity Policy.

Biodiversity Stories

Transformative Partnerships for People and the Planet: USAID's Health, Ecosystems, and Agriculture for Resilient, Thriving Societies



STORYMAP, The HEARTH initiative invests across development sectors in biodiverse landscapes around the world to achieve benefits not just for people, but for all species and ecosystems. Learn about the 17 HEARTH activities currently operating in 12 countries.

Biodiversity Photo Contest 2023 Winners



The results of the 2023 Biodiversity Photo Contest are in! Congratulations to our 10 Winners.

Uncovering What Works to Reduce the Pandemic Risk of Wildlife Trade


The COVID crisis and its impacts on people and wildlife prompted USAID’s Wildlife TRAPS partnership to craft One Health solutions to help us all.