Members of Malatgao United Riverside Farmers Association in Quezon municipality, Palawan province received their high-quality durian seedlings from the USAID-funded Protect Wildlife project in the Philippines. They are among the 600 local and indigenous farmers who were trained and engaged by USAID Protect Wildlife in 2019 to plant 44,000 durian seedlings in approximately 400 hectares of forestland in southern Palawan. This agroforestry and conservation agriculture initiative is a way for USAID to provide incentives to farmers who agree to plant high-value fruit trees in forestlands and buffer zones classified as production areas. When successful, this can contribute to increased tree cover in their area, enhanced climate resiliency through healthier forests, and improved conservation of local biodiversity.
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Across Liberia, people rely on the country's lush forests to survive. They hunt animals for meat. They clear trees to grow rice and other crops. Slowly, they're destroying what remains of the Upper Guinean forest region and its rich biodiversity. And life isn't easy for Liberia's forest communities. Many struggle to feed their children. Their livelihoods are anything but stable. Pact is addressing both problems with its signature WORTH program, which reduces poverty and empowers women through village banking and entrepreneurship. In Liberia, Pact is implementing WORTH with funding from USAID as part of the FIFES project. Through WORTH, Liberian forest communities are developing new, reliable livelihoods that don’t harm forests. In groups of about 20, WORTH brings women together to save money, access credit and generate income. They make small savings deposits at weekly meetings, and when groups’ funds grow large enough, members may begin taking loans to start small businesses. Groups receive literacy, numeracy and business training. For these women – and for their families, communities and forests – WORTH is making all the difference. In this photo, WORTH members proudly hold up their program guide books. Photo taken Feb. 2017 in Nimba, Liberia.
This picture depicts the start of agroforestry efforts in the village co-op in Mwambezi, Zambia (near Mbala). As part of the Feed the Future Initiative, the co-op ordered 100 lemon tree seedlings and a batch of 100 moringa tree seedlings. After growing to a sufficient size, the seedlings were planted around the village of Mwambezi.
In the frame, a keeper is setting up the pit for a newly planted tree in a patch plantation campaign. Plantation patches are developed on lands usually unfit for cultivation where trees can easily survive. This not only make the soil fertile but also helps to reduce the carbon/pollution levels resulting in a cleaner and fresh climate. The picture was shot near Khanewal, Punjab, Pakistan on 27th July, 2020.
This picture depicts a family of wildebeest in Dulahazara safari park, Chokoria, Bangladesh. The sanctuary is trying to provide as natural a habitat for the animals as possible in the tropical climate of Bangladesh, in an effort to study the animal. I didn't think twice about the photo after taking it, felt like any other generic photo that is going to fall in the pile of obscurity and be lost. But by sheer chance, the photo caught my attention a few months later, and I realized, the photo shows a deeper meaning of life. It showcases a family of wildebeest, and I couldn't help but connect with it. More often than not, we look at animals as they are, animals, but its more than that, these creatures have children just like us humans, these creatures rear their families just like humans, they feel the same way we do, then how do we think that we are so different? We take away their homes, their loved ones, their lives, yet we do not bat an eye. What makes gives us the right to do so? What makes us so different?
Ecotourism is a huge contributor to Costa Rica's economy, and its history of success is related to the country's progressive environmental policies. In particular, forest conversion is heavily penalized, meaning that forests are less likely to be cut down to make room for livestock. Primary forests—those that have never been cut down—receive an even higher level of protection and are often monetized, such as at Costa Rica Sky Adventures, where this photo was taken.
Places like this, which combine the thrill of heights with the landscape's natural beauty, offer tourists an opportunity to appreciate untouched forests while also learning about their high value and ecological importance.
In Costa Rica's Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve, visitors can experience largely untouched primary forests and unmatched biodiversity, including the highest number of orchid species in a single place. Monteverde is a huge ecotourism success story, having been started by Quaker farmers in the 1970s and now drawing more than 70,000 visitors per year. Ferns like the one seen here are quite common in the understory of the cloud forest.
However, even pristine examples of forest conservation like Monteverde are not immune to change. Monteverde is known worldwide as the habitat of the golden toad (Incilius periglenes), though it has not been seen in more than 20 years and is believed to be extinct.
Costa Rica is famous for having only 0.03 percent of the Earth's landmass, but 6 percent of its biodiversity. As a result, ecotourism is a heavy hitter in Costa Rica's economy, and is often cited as a key to the country's economic development.
Costa Rica had a head start, having developed policies favorable to ecotourism as early as the 1990s. Even so, the country struggles with to balance its current status as a model for ecotourism with a history of unsustainable environmental management. For example, one of the country's primary sources of hydroelectric power, Lake Arenal, has diverted an entire watershed to the opposite side of the Continental Divide in an effort to bring water to the semi-arid Guanacaste province. Such initiatives were undertaken before strong environmental regulations came into effect, and the ecological damage is still unclear. Even so, Costa Rica is often lauded for a high level of renewable energy production sourced from the very same lake.
One example of ecotourism is the Arenal Sky Walk, where visitors can take a hike that crosses numerous hanging bridges, each offering a rare view of the rainforest canopy. Epiphytes, such as those seen along this tree branch, are rarely seen as close.
Borneo, an island in Asia shared by Malaysia, Indonesia, and Brunei, has experienced rapid deforestation in recent years. Driven by palm oil plantations, rubber plantations, and logging, many species are at risk of losing their habitats. This series of satellite images taken over the Central Kalamantan region of Indonesia, depict the rapid growth and movement of settlements from 2015 to 2019 and the increasing road network between what is likely a rubber plantation. Deforestation, a leading cause of human CO2 emissions, can lead to an increase in floods, forest fires, droughts and could have negative impacts on fresh water reservoirs and human health in this area. Mammals, amphibians, reptiles, and marine wildlife are all threatened by the increase in deforestation. In this series of photos, natural regeneration can be identified where large areas of deforestation had once occurred. Allowing deforested areas to regrow provides hope that deforestation on the island will slow and larger areas of forests will be protected. USAID plays a large role in helping Central Kalamantan protect their endangered species, especially the Orangutan, through the Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation (BOSF). This initiative has seen the rehabilitation of over 100 orangutans and their release back into this region, all with the support of USAID. USAID is also a partner of the Asian Disaster Preparedness Center (ADPC) where climate challenges are tackled through the use of Earth observations and other techniques and informed decisions can be made through careful evaluation. These partnerships will allow for a more sustainable future on the island of Borneo.
It's rare for humans to get an up-close view of the rainforest canopy. Yet, this is just what they do when they participate in numerous ecotourism activities found in Costa Rica that serve to bring tourists to this rarely seen part of the forest.
While zip lines might be the most commonly known type of canopy ecotourism, there are other possibilities, such as sky walks, where visitors take a trail that passes over hanging bridges. While still exhilarating, sky walks are not quite as heart-stopping as the faster-paced zip lines. Sky walks are perfect for individuals and families looking to experience an unfamiliar place while learning a little about what makes that place special.
This image was taken from the the middle of a hanging bridge, looking down into the canopy layer of the forest below.
Indigenous women farmers in Bataraza, southern Palawan, Philippines, plant upland rice in now-controlled slash-and-burn areas. Bataraza is a municipality nestled in the foothills of Mount Mantaligahan, 140 km south of Puerto Princesa City in Palawan, Phiippines. Within the vast Mount Mantalingahan mountain range lies the Mount Mantalingahan Protected Landscape. Covering 120,457 hectares of forest, this protected area serves as the headwater of 33 watersheds and is home to many highly-endangered wildlife species. In terms of farming, slash-and-burn agriculture has been used by the local communities for many generations, but its effect in today’s diminishing state of natural resources has been destructive and unsustainable. The USAID-funded Protect Wildlife Project, in cooperation with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, is helping indigenous people improve upland farming and strengthen local livelihoods so they won't need to expand their slash-and-burn areas or resort to wildlife poaching just to make ends meet. These women farmers have been taught the proper upland farming techniques, such as using a minimum land area for inter-cropping of vegetables and fruit trees. Slash-and-burn agriculture causes deforestation, accidental fires, habitat and species loss, increased air pollution and the release of carbon into the atmosphere, which contributes to global climate change. Photo taken in Palawan, Philippines on June 18, 2019.
Monteverde Cloud Forest, Costa Rica, November 2014. In spite of its small size, Costa Rica accounts for nearly 6 percent of the world’s biodiversity. Cloud forests like the one at Monteverde are crucial habitat for plants and animals, such as this colofrul hummingbird. Recent studies predict that cloud forests worldwide will diminish by 60 to 80 percent in the next 25 years as a result of climate change.
Chirripo Volcano, Costa Rica, 2014. Agroforestry is gaining popularity worldwide as a method of sustainable land management. At AsoProLa, an agricultural cooperative high in the mountains of Costa Rica's Puntarenas province, coffee is grown in the shade of banana trees. Coffee grown in this manner requires less agrochemicals, provides habitat to animals, and tastes better than non-shade grown varieties.
Hot springs in the Uyuni salt flats.
An eco-guard walks along a newly renovated trail and bridge in Kahuzi Biega National Park in May 2018. The U.S. Forest Service International Programs, in partnership with the Wildlife Conservation Society and supported by USAID’s Central Africa Program for the Environment, is working with Kahuzi Biega National Park to improve and expand tourist hiking trails as well as work with nearby communities to maintain newly rehabilitated trails. Building capacity of national park staff and local communities not only improves visitor experience and creates economic opportunities for neighboring communities, but also puts the park on track for long-term financial stability, an essential step in the long-term protection of these landscapes, and the preservation of the forests within them.
Flamingos drinking water at a lake in the Uyuni salt flats.