Conserving Biodiversity

Speeches Shim

Panoramic photo of a mangrove landscape. A man can be seen paddling a canoe offshore.
The mangrove forest of the Del Carmen landscape in the Philippines protects against coastal erosion and storm surges.
Sam Harold K. Nervez

“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.”

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.

A young Guatemalan woman sorts xate for processing
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

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 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.
USAID’s ongoing support to the Gorongosa landscape in the Republic of Mozambique illustrates how conservation advances development across the continent. In 2020, the implementation of conservation best practices and effective law enforcement improved the protected area management of 1.2 million hectares (an area larger than Puerto Rico), forming a conservation corridor stretching from Mt. Gorongosa to the Indian Ocean. Natural resource management training for 688 community members combined with support for climate-smart agriculture and conservation-friendly enterprises involving coffee, cashews, honey, and tourism increased economic benefits for more than 18,000 people.
In the Republic of Indonesia, USAID has supported biodiversity conservation in six priority areas where forest cover remains most intact and carbon stocks are greatest. Over the last five years, USAID improved the management of 1.1 million hectares (an area larger than Yellowstone National Park) of forests and peatlands in these priority places, bringing the total area under improved management to 7.5 million hectares.

Looking for tools and guidance related to USAID biodiversity programming? Visit the Agency’s global knowledge portal to advance USAID’s Biodiversity Policy, BiodiversityLinks.

Last updated: February 25, 2022

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