Natural Climate Solutions

Speeches Shim

An aerial image of forest canopy at sunrise
Tikal National Park, Guatemala, at sunrise
Jason Houston / USAID
  • Exposure

    Community Forestry Is Much More Than Just Forests

    Nepal’s conservationists become local leaders. Read the story

USAID helps partner countries protect, manage, and restore forests and other lands to combat climate change while improving livelihoods and resilience. USAID works with communities, businesses, and governments across entire landscapes to have impact at scale.

The land sector is critical as both a source of emissions and as a climate change solution. Deforestation, unsustainable land management, and land degradation represent nearly a quarter of global greenhouse gas emissions. By conserving and restoring forests, we protect important carbon sinks and provide economic benefits for future generations. Unsustainable land use often results from agricultural expansion and poor agricultural management, illegal logging, damaging charcoal and timber production, and insecure land and resource rights. (Note: USAID is now describing sustainable landscapes-funded programs as Natural Climate Solutions.)

About a third of the world’s people have a close dependence on forests and forest products. Around the world, healthy forests provide food, jobs, clean water, and resilience to climate-related shocks while storing carbon. USAID invests in forest protection, management, and restoration to build a sustainable and resilient future for people and nature.

Our Approach

USAID helps partner countries protect, manage, and restore globally important forests, as well as wetlands, peatlands, and agricultural lands. Sound management of environmental and natural resources is integral to a country’s development and resilience. USAID helps local institutions improve and promote land management policies, create incentives for stewardship, and build systems to conduct forest inventories and monitor carbon emissions. USAID’s approach promotes systematic, landscape-wide solutions.

USAID has worked with more than two dozen countries to protect, manage, and restore forests and other landscapes through bilateral, regional, and global programs. Through global programs such as SilvaCarbon and SERVIR, more than a dozen countries are better able to monitor and manage their forests. USAID programs also help partner country institutions build better systems to conduct forest inventories and measure, report, and verify carbon emissions. Natural climate solutions such as mangrove and forest conservation and restoration and climate-smart agriculture are an important bridge between global climate change mitigation and local adaptation goals.

Since 2016, USAID has mobilized more than a half billion dollars of private investment in sustainable landscapes programs, including performance-based “payment for ecosystem services” programs. In some cases, businesses pay landowners or communities to protect their forests to secure ecosystem services such as a sustainable water supply. Other programs generate carbon credits that can be sold domestically or on the international, voluntary carbon market. A third party certifies that greenhouse gas emissions were avoided or additional carbon stored as a result of the landowner’s or forest community’s conservation actions.

USAID advances natural climate solutions through sustainable landscapes programs that promote sustainable management of forest, agricultural, and other lands to improve livelihoods and resilience while reducing national and regional greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation and land degradation.

Our Programs

  • SilvaCarbon

    SilvaCarbon is a U.S. technical cooperation program to enhance capacity worldwide in monitoring and managing forest and terrestrial carbon. Visit the website

  • SERVIR-Global

    This USAID–NASA partnership helps more than 50 countries access and use satellite data to address challenges in food security, water, weather, climate, and land use via global hubs in the Amazon, West Africa, Eastern and Southern Africa, Hindu Kush-Himalaya, and Lower Mekong regions. Visit the website

  • Central Africa Regional Program for the Environment

    A flagship USAID program working across nine countries in the Congo Basin to create a regional forest dialogue and to build local, national and regional capacity for improved natural resources management. Visit the website

  • Colombia Paramos and Forests

    This activity supports the Government of Colombia’s efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through the domestic carbon market by conserving and restoring carbon-dense tropical forest and paramos ecosystems across the country. Read the fact sheet

  • Green Invest Asia

    This USAID initiative helps agriculture and forestry businesses in Southeast Asia improve the sustainability and environmental stewardship of their operations while expanding their business opportunities, by connecting them with like-minded investors and reducing barriers to investment. Visit the website

  • Global Forest Watch

    This online platform provides data and tools for monitoring forests. By harnessing cutting-edge technology, the platform allows anyone to access near real-time information about where and how forests are changing around the world. Visit the website

Last updated: April 22, 2021

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