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.
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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.
All over the world women are excelling in roles that were previously reserved for men. Living proof of this paradigm shift can be found in Liberia, where more and more women are training to be Community Ecoguards, a position that has traditionally been male-dominated at Grebo-Krahn National Park. These are two newly recruited female Community Ecoguards, Felecia Kyne (left) and Mathaline Garley (right), improve their GPS skills during their first field mission in Grebo-Krahn National Park in April 2018. The active participation of women in the Ecoguard Program, run by the Wild Chimpanzee Foundation and the Forestry Development Authority with support from the USAID funded West Africa Biodiversity and Climate Change program, is protecting one of the biggest tropical rainforests in the world thus promoting carbon sequestration and storage.
Dried up lake in the Bolivian salt flats.