Sustainable Landscapes

Forests, farms and other landscapes store, or sequester, carbon in plants and soils. Any landscape can be a “carbon sink,” which stores more carbon than it releases to the atmosphere, or a “carbon source,” which releases more carbon than it stores.

Landscapes and land-use activities, including direct emissions from agriculture, account for about a third of the human-caused greenhouse gas emissions linked to climate change. This makes sustainable landscape management essential to curbing global emissions.

USAID has supported sustainable natural resource management, especially forest conservation, for decades. Some 300 million people around the world live in forests, and 1.2 billion people depend on forests for their livelihoods, according to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization.

Until recently, USAID’s sustainable landscapes programs focused mainly on tropical forests, guided by the U.S. Strategy for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) and the U.S. program Enhancing Capacity for Low Emission Development Strategies.

Reducing deforestation in tropical forests is critical because forests not only store carbon, they also provide important co-benefits like protection of livelihoods, watersheds and biodiversity.

In 2013, the focus of USAID’s sustainable landscapes work was expanded to include all landscapes, including farmlands, mangroves, wetlands, and potentially other areas.

Select Sustainable Landscapes Programs

SilvaCarbon. USAID works with other agencies to support the SilvaCarbon program, which works with Peru, Democratic Republic of Congo, Vietnam, and other countries to build capacity to monitor and manage tropical forests and terrestrial carbon. SilvaCarbon Fact Sheet

Enhancing Capacity for Low Emission Development Strategies (EC-LEDS) is a flagship U.S. program that has forged partnerships with more than 20 developing countries—from Colombia to Indonesia to South Africa to Ukraine—who are planning and implementing low emission development strategies through clean energy and sustainable land use.

The Central Africa Regional Program for the Environment (CARPE) is 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.

BIOREDD+ is a flagship environmental program in Colombia’s mega-diverse Pacific region, with a portfolio of REDD+ projects seeking to protect natural resources and promote regeneration of degraded tropical forest.

The Forest Carbon, Markets and Communities (FCMC) program develops tools and trainings to support countries in building capacity in the technical, social, environmental and financial aspects of REDD+ readiness.

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Last updated: October 06, 2015

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