Hands planting tree
In a recent study published in the journal Science, researchers at ETH Zurich concluded that the planet could support nearly 2.5 billion additional acres of forest without shrinking our cities and farms. Those additional trees could store 200 gigatons of carbon. Within the framework of the “Alliance for Sustainable Landscapes and Markets” financed by USAID and implemented by Rainforest Alliance in Mexico, we strengthen resilient, sustainable farm and forestland management of coffee producers in Chiapas.

Editor’s Pick: Sustainable Landscapes Tools and Resources on Climatelinks

By Noel Gurwick, Isabela Barriga, Julia Bradley-Cook

The ways we use land—for instance, agriculture, forestry, urban development, or ecosystem protection—has long-term impacts on global climate change. Approximately one quarter of net global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions come directly from land use (like agriculture) and land use change (like deforestation). Activities related to land use like transporting timber add even more GHGs to the atmosphere. It doesn’t need to be that way. Land management options, such as forest protection and peatland restoration, are among the most cost-effective ways to reduce emissions and store carbon in the land. We call these opportunities Natural Climate Solutions. 

USAID’s Sustainable Landscapes programs work in countries across the world to support natural climate solutions by advancing our understanding of the factors that influence land-based emissions, and by implementing programs that address these drivers at scale. Partnering with governments, USAID helps manage and restore forests and other lands to store carbon while promoting inclusive and equitable resource management and achieving broad, low emissions economic development. Sustainable Landscapes programs help national, regional, and local institutions improve policies, promote sound management practices, and build systems to plan and manage land use and carbon emissions. 

Learn about recent and ongoing Sustainable Landscapes activities through the programs, blogs, resources, and tools found below.


Through global programs such as SilvaCarbon and SERVIR, more than a dozen countries are better able to monitor and manage forests. 

The Sustainable Wetlands Adaptation and Mitigation Program (SWAMP) project generates knowledge that policymakers and practitioners need to sustainably manage tropical wetlands, specifically mangroves and peatlands, in the face of changing global climate.

The Productive Landscapes (ProLand) project brings together expertise in governance, ecology, and economics of land use to make the evidence about essential elements for effective program designs available to USAID staff and implementers. Recently, to help inform program priorities, ProLand has produced Sustainable Landscapes Opportunities Analyses for the Philippines, Vietnam, and West Africa. These analyses assess and prioritize opportunities to reduce land-based emissions.


An Interdependent Vision features the USAID/Indonesia LESTARI activity and shares lessons learned in conserving biodiversity while reducing GHG emissions from land use change.

Pulling for Forests in Vietnam explores how e-payments from Payments for Forest Ecosystem Services make life easier for community-based forest owners.

The Role of Sustainable Finance in Forest Landscape Restoration captures how Forest Landscape Restoration is a promising alternative holistic concept to improve rural livelihoods and reverse forest and land degradation. 

Innovative Mapping Platform Supports People and Protects Forests in the Democratic Republic of the Congo shares how transparent development mapping can monitor deforestation and avoid major GHG emissions.

The Intrinsic Relationship between Land, Animals and Humans shares lessons learned from the Infectious Disease Emergence and Economics of Altered Landscapes project regarding the impact of deforestation on land, animals, and humans. 


Integrating Biodiversity and Sustainable Landscapes in USAID Programming explores both the benefits and potential challenges of integration to help USAID staff make informed choices about whether and how to integrate these two distinct funding streams.

A Sourcebook for Community-Based Forestry Enterprise Programming aims to inform design and implementation of community forestry interventions that seek to deliver social, environmental, and economic outcomes in developing countries.

Sustainable Landscapes Opportunities Analyses are being developed by the ProLand project for national and regional USAID missions to develop Sustainable Landscapes programming that maximizes emissions reductions and associated co-benefits.

A Rapid Analysis of Greenhouse Gas Emission Mitigation Opportunities for Ethiopia: A Framework for Synthesis and Prioritization outlines  novel and swift strategies are devised to help direct and prioritize potential GHG mitigation activities in Ethiopia.

Climate Finance Assessment: Opportunities for Scaling Up Financing for Clean Energy, Sustainable Landscapes, and Adaptation analyzes the different ways that donors, development assistance agencies, governments, financial institutions, impact investors, and private companies can accelerate financing for investments in clean energy, sustainable landscapes, and climate adaptation. 


Climate Risk Screening and Management Tools (also available in Spanish), USAID’s tools to identify climate risks and mitigation measures, include the environment and biodiversity annex alongside other sector-specific annexes. The annex provides illustrative questions and examples designed to help users think through risks, opportunities, and climate risk management options.

SWAMP Toolbox: The SWAMP project developed a toolbox to guide users in understanding the importance of wetlands ecosystems as carbon reservoirs for climate change adaptation and mitigation strategies. 

Strategic Objective
Adaptation, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Policy, Climate Risk Management, Forestry, Health, Sustainable Land Management, Land Use, Resilience, Sustainable Landscapes, Water and Sanitation
Noel Gurwick

Noel Gurwick

Noel Gurwick is the Sustainable Landscapes Team Lead in the Office of Global Climate Change at the US Agency for International Development (USAID) where he focuses on land-based solutions to mitigate climate change.

Isabela Barriga

Isabela es gerente de redes sociales y coordinadora de contenido para Climatelinks a través del proyecto SEEK de USAID. Ella ayuda con la gestión de la información, la investigación y la redacción de blogs. Anteriormente, Isabela brindó apoyo de comunicación y gestión de contenido a organizaciones intergubernamentales, asociaciones público-privadas y misiones diplomáticas, incluidas las Naciones Unidas, GAVI (actualmente, la Alianza de Vacunas) y la Embajada de Ecuador. Isabela tiene un B.S. en Salud Pública y estudios completos en Desarrollo Internacional y Gestión de Conflictos (Universidad de Maryland, College Park).

Julia Bradley Cook

Julia Bradley-Cook

Julia Bradley-Cook manages Climatelinks and provides oversight for its content, organization, scope and functionality. She works for USAID as a Climate Advisor for the Africa Bureau's Office of Sustainable Development, where she applies her training as an ecosystem scientist and science communicator to technical support of climate smart agriculture, landscape-scale carbon management, and low emissions development programs in Sub Saharan Africa. She served as a Congressional Science Fellow from 2015-2016 and an AAAS Science and Technology Policy Fellow at USAID from 2016-2018. Julia has a PhD in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from Dartmouth and a B.A. in Biology from Grinnell College.

More on the Blog

Part II: Climate Finance in Action
CEADIR’s final report contains summaries and links to seven years of assessments, analyses, tools, and training and technical assistance materials on planning, financing, and implementation of clean energy, sustainable landscapes (natural climate solutions), and climate adaptation.
The 2021 Climatelinks photo contest was a huge success! We received more than 100 stunning submissions from the Climatelinks community, representing more than 22 countries.