Biodiversity

FY2017 Funding Recommendation:  
$265 million

 

Funding History

       Enacted   

       President's FY2017 Request   

       InterAction's FY2017 Recommendation

 *Estimated


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Justification

 Key Facts

  • Estimated at $8-10 billion annually, the illicit wildlife trade is one of the five most lucrative transnational organized crimes, alongside narcotics and human trafficking.

  • In 2013, USAID biodiversity and forestry programs improved prospects for conservation across more than 235 million acres, an area equal to that of California, Michigan and Ohio combined.

  • Illegal logging alone generates an estimated $10-15 billion annually in global criminal proceeds.

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 $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 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 FY2016, Congress increased the wildlife trafficking account to $80 million, including directing $40 million to INL and $10 million to site-based anti-poaching efforts to protect rhinos. 

The recommended funding level for FY2017 of $265 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 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.

Success Story

Mangrove Trees are My Whole Life

Varoti Rani Bishawash has dedicated her life to mangrove trees, which is to say, she has dedicated her life to the people around her. The 52-year-old, who lives with her brother in the village of Pathorkhali, Khulna, in Southwest Bangladesh, knows the trees are key to the future success and safety of her community.

She enthusiastically declares, “Mangrove trees are my whole life!” It is not an exaggeration. 

The mangroves that make up the Sundarbans, the world’s largest mangrove forest, provide protection for Bishawash and her village because of their unique root systems. The Sundarbans are a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the largest reserve for the Bengal Tiger. They also provide habitat for fishing cats, water birds, and wild boars.

Years of climate change, the resulting rise in sea levels, and intense storm surges are threatening her country; however, the mangroves provide a buffer to protect them from these dangers. By protecting this ecosystem, they are protecting themselves.

Bishawash has been able to convince her village and the government of their dependence upon the mangroves. Her zeal for the trees, the people they guard, and protecting a portion of the Sundarbans has become contagious.

With support from USAID’s Climate-Resilient Ecosystems and Livelihoods project, Bishawash and her neighbors planted 6,000 Nipa Palms (Golpata) along the banks of the Shakbaria River in 2012. Since then, they’ve doubled that number to 12,000. This season, the plantation will begin to yield a profit, which will pay for the continued expansion of the mangrove restoration efforts.

The group has also completed one kilometer of fencing to protect the plantation, and set up a seed germination area, also protected by a half kilometer of blue-net fencing. This 4.7-hectare plantation has also become a natural sanctuary for fish, crabs, water snakes, snails, shrimp, and eels. Drifting mangrove seeds wash in with the tide and get caught in the roots of the trees and sprout, which continues the natural regeneration process.

Perhaps most importantly, USAID’s work has been instrumental in developing relationships between communities like Bishawash’s and the government’s forest department. These partnerships build resilience in the communities through collaboration while also encouraging sustainable livelihood practices in and around the Sundarbans.

Photo: Winrock International

 

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