FY2016 Funding Recommendation:
President's FY2016 Request
InterAction's FY2016 Recommendation
By protecting some of the world’s most threatened natural landscapes, USAID biodiversity programs help ensure the livelihoods of millions of people who directly depend on natural resources for their survival and economic growth. By addressing corruption associated with wildlife trafficking, and maintaining and restoring natural resources that supply fertile soil, clean water, food, and medicine, USAID’s biodiversity programs help reduce conflict over resource scarcity, and improve stability and economic prospects for key trading partners.
The ties between conservation and security are becoming increasingly clear. Where natural resources are poorly managed, they have become targets of criminal activity and have fueled conflict. This in turn has degraded rule of law and undermined economic growth. Growing scarcity of water and food resources, and increasingly severe weather-driven disasters, are also undermining the stability of developing countries, draining resources and fueling violent discontent that can undermine governments.
One pressing challenge is the highly lucrative illegal trade in natural resources, including an illicit wildlife trade estimated at $8-10 billion annually, and illegal logging that generates an estimated $10-15 billion annually in global criminal proceeds. Illegal trade in natural resources is pushing an increasing number of species to the brink of extinction, robbing America’s trading partners of valuable resources and hurting our own economy. It also threatens U.S. security interests, providing a lucrative source of criminal financing that undermines rule of law and promotes corruption. Recognizing the severity of these problems, Congress established a new federal account to combat wildlife trafficking to be implemented by the Department of State Office of International Narcotics & Law Enforcement (INL) and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). In FY15 Congress increased the wildlife trafficking account to $55 million, directing $25 million to INL, and $10 million to site-based anti-poaching efforts to protect rhinos.
The recommended funding level for FY2016 of $250 million would improve natural resource management of at least 70 million hectares of biologically significant areas critical to the survival of unique, rare, and endemic species. It would also enhance law enforcement capacity for key sites and trade routes. These programs, and the new USAID Biodiversity Strategy, protect species and habitats, prevent extinctions, and conserve a shared global heritage. They also strengthen communities, diversify livelihoods, promote gender equality, increase government transparency and accountability, and improve peace and security.
On patrol to save Cambodia’s forests
Trob Phar’s job has always been to nurture and protect her family. Now she’s doing the same for her community. With training and funding from USAID’s Supporting Forest and Biodiversity project, Phar leads a community ranger forest patrol in Srey Ey village in Mondulkiri Province, in northeastern Cambodia. They’re charged with curtailing poaching and illegal logging in the area.
Thirty years of deforestation have removed more than 2.5 million hectares of Cambodia’s forests. People like Phar are an integral part of the push to preserve the country’s forests and wildlife. She is one of 90 community rangers working to protect more than 26,000 hectares of land in seven community conservation forests and protected areas.
USAID’s partners joined forces with the local government and communities to develop the system for monitoring illegal activity in Mondulkiri’s forests. Phar and her team were trained by experienced rangers how to track down poachers and illegal loggers, what to do when they make contact, and how to respond to potential obstacles while on patrol.
Community patrols have significantly reduced illegal logging and poaching. They have also given Phar and her community a sense of collective ownership over the forest, fueling a desire to conserve the forest for future generations.
“This is our land,” says Phar. “No one can come here and cut it because it is under our supervision. It is for our children and grandchildren.”
Photo Credit: Winrock International/SFB Project