Office of Forestry and Biodiversity

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Fish Warden on Duty in Coron, Philippines
A warden keeps close tabs on activities around the Decalve Marine Sanctuary in Palawan, Philippines, where USAID has supported efforts to increase fishery productivity while conserving marine biodiversity.
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E3’s Office of Forestry and Biodiversity (FAB) provides assistance to and represents 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) in the areas of climate change mitigation, and adaptation.

The FAB Office provides guidance, training, and direct technical assistance to USAID colleagues engaged in developing, managing and monitoring conservation programs. FAB also manages several activities that address global drivers of biodiversity and forest loss, especially overexploitation for illegal or unsustainable trade. The office collaborates with interagency partners to implement the U.S. National Strategy to Combat Wildlife Trafficking and leads the Agency’s response to a Presidential Memo on Combating Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated (IUU) Fishing and Seafood Fraud.

USAID Strategy and Program Focus

Simply put, conservation is development. Nature’s diversity underpins economic, food security, health and climate change outcomes. When we work together to conserve nature, we build more resilient societies while sustaining global, national and local assets. Today, at least 1.6 billion people worldwide rely on forests for some part of their livelihood, and about 2.6 billion people in developing countries depend on fish for protein and income.

Good management of forests and fisheries will help build resilience of human and natural systems – supporting global food security and human health, and helping the world to adapt to climate change. Protecting wildlife from poaching and illegal trafficking helps secure our global heritage and fights against the criminal networks that exploit people and nature and tear the fabric of national security and rule of law.

In FY 2015, USAID invested $250 million to address threats to biodiversity in high-priority forests, grasslands, coral reefs and other ecosystems. More than $67 million of those funds were invested in activities to combat wildlife trafficking that reduce consumer demand, disrupt transit, and fight poaching in Africa and Asia. These efforts combined with biodiversity-friendly approaches to enhancing public health, food security and climate change mitigation and adaptation allow USAID to take a strategic and focused approach to conserving biodiversity in priority places.

Agency biodiversity programs link strong science and policy engagement with innovative projects and local knowledge. USAID focuses on areas with critical biodiversity where the Agency has a comparative advantage to make positive change and can support host-country conservation and development priorities. USAID supports the conservation of priority sites, species, and natural systems in support of national and regional development goals and the global public good.


USAID supports biodiversity conservation and sustainable forest management in more than 50 countries. The Agency partners with foreign governments, civil society, the private sector, and local communities to help them conserve and benefit from natural resources. With USAID assistance in 2015:

  • Globally, biodiversity and forestry field conservation programs improved natural resource management across more than 75 million hectares of high conservation value — an area about the size of Montana, North Dakota, and South Dakota combined.
  • USAID addressed wildlife crime in approximately 25 countries through improved technologies, law enforcement training, consumer demand reduction efforts, and support for integrated, regional, and transnational cooperation.

E3’s Partners

The FAB Office works closely with USAID regional bureaus, especially those for Africa, Asia and Latin America and the Caribbean, to coordinate assistance to field programs. It also engages with USAID’s bureaus for Food Security, Global Health, and Democracy, Conflict and Humanitarian Assistance and the Global Development Lab on cross-cutting issues and to advance integrated programs.

Through its partners, FAB amplifies staff expertise to strengthen Agency conservation programs while assembling coalitions to address intractable, transnational challenges. With Environmental Incentives, Foundations of Success and ICF International, FAB helps missions apply more strategic and evidence-based conservation programming, conduct rigorous monitoring and evaluation, and learn from each other to apply best practices. A similar effort is focused on enhancing integrated programming, to better achieve and document biodiversity and human development objectives. These are complemented by knowledge management and staff training facilitated by Training Resources Group, Engility and ForumOne. Research by the Center for International Forestry Research on linkages among forests, wildlife, food and disease helps FAB foster collaboration between conservation activities and efforts to prevent and prepare for Ebola outbreak. The U.S. Forest Service (USFS) supports USAID natural resource management efforts in several countries, while a new partnership deploys retired staff of USFS and peer agencies to areas in Kenya and Colombia.

FAB also manages a robust portfolio supporting U.S. policy priorities on overexploitation of plants and animals, often in partnership with the private sector. From 2009 to 2016, the Forest Legality Alliance has promoted compliance with an amendment to the U.S. Lacey Act aimed at eliminating illegal wood from supply chains. Since 2013, FAB has engaged TRAFFIC (the wildlife trade monitoring network) to analyze wildlife crime dynamics and build the capacity and coordination needed for countries to disrupt and dismantle illicit trade. USAID launched the Wildlife Crime Tech Challenge on Earth Day 2015, calling on the global community to harness the power of science and technology to address wildlife crime. Three hundred innovators from around the world answered the call, and sixteen Prize Winners were announced earlier this year; their innovations ranged from hand-held DNA sequencers to electronic "noses" that can identify illegal cargo, to mobile apps for identifying illegal wildlife in markets. Reducing Opportunities for Unlawful Transport of Endangered Species (ROUTES), with the participation of transportation and logistics companies, is cultivating partners in government, business and civil society to address IUU fishing and seafood fraud, symptoms of ocean overexploitation with direct impacts on American consumers.

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