Sustainable landscapes programs leverage investments in forestry, agriculture, and land usage to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions while also increasing productivity and addressing rural poverty. Many low-income countries lack the capital and capacity to prevent deforestation and other forms of environmental degradation, making domestic investments in sustainable landscapes untenable.
What does it buy?
Programs aim to capture carbon by conserving, managing, and restoring forests and other lands; building local resilience; and producing economic opportunities. In some cases, funds enable the implementation of sustainable agricultural models to boost productivity.
Rampant wildfires in the Amazon, Australia, and Indonesia have highlighted the vulnerability of the world’s carbon sinks. Trees absorb an estimated 30% of annual carbon emissions, with the Amazon rainforest alone sequestering 5% of global emissions.
Sustainable landscapes programs yield significant supplementary benefits such as biodiversity preservation; water and air filtration; flood buffering; and overall climate resilience.
Soil erosion from land use is estimated to be up to 100 times higher than the rate of soil formation. Improved soil health, fostered through sustainable landscaping, is a crucial component of long-term food security.
Funding supports programs like USAID’s Vietnam Forests and Deltas program, which has helped more than 30,000 farmers modernize their practices.
Since 2016, over $500 million of private investment has been mobilized by USAID toward sustainable landscapes programs.
Working with communities to develop Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) projects, implementers generate revenue for communities that can be invested in other developmental priorities such as health and education.
Trees absorb an estimated 30% of annual carbon emissions, with the Amazon rainforest alone sequestering 5% of global emissions.
Why should Americans care?
Climate change knows no borders. The effects of climate change and extreme weather events outside of the U.S. affect American lives, trade, and economic productivity.
Annual GDP per capita could decrease by as much as 14.3% in the U.S. by 2100 due to climate change, with effects accelerating based on the scale of global temperature increases.
The economic and social ramifications of climate change will disproportionately burden lower-income nations, increasing the need for humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, exacerbating conflict, and putting U.S. national security at risk.
Deforestation-induced habitat loss increases the likelihood of human-animal contact, intensifying the risk of zoonotic diseases—like COVID-19—being transferred to people.
What more could be done?
Sustainable landscapes programs have traditionally focused on deforestation, forest degradation, and forest biomes. Expanding the scope of programs to enable sustainable landscape building in other biomes, such as coastal wetlands and oceans, would boost climate mitigation efforts.
Funding levels may not accurately reflect those in the appropriations bills and/or reports due to rounding.