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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Stacks of sustainable charcoal produced at Mampu cooperative site outside of Kinshasa visited as part of a scoping mission looking at alternative local species to integrate into agroforestry woodfuel systems to increase the volume of sustainable charcoal supply for urban areas in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, carried out by the U.S. Forest Service International Programs and supported by USAID’s Africa Bureau in July 2018. Charcoal is the main source of cooking fuel in the the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and an increasing urban demand for it is resulting in forest degradation and deforestation.
Many farmers in coastal Sierra Leone cultivate rice as their staple food. In doing that, they clear land including mangrove forests to make way for their rice farms. Unfortunately, this has a counterproductive effect as the water during high tides overwhelms the rice farms and destroys these crops. WA BiCC introduced this new approach called "rice-mangrove integration" where mangrove plants are replanted around the rice farms to protect the rice crops from overwhelming amounts of water. These mangrove forests also serve as spawning grounds for fish, oysters, and other aquatic species, increasing food security in these communities, including Bonthe in coastal Sierra Leone.
A group of artisanal fishermen in Bahía Solano, along Colombia’s Pacific coast, learned how to improve their livelihoods while mitigating overfishing through Emprende Pacífico, an initiative implemented by ACDI/VOCA and the Ministry of Labor, in 2016. They learned sustainable fishing techniques, such as ending the practice of dragging large nets that catch all sorts of marine life and limiting the size of fish they capture. The initiative helped reduce conflict, as fishing communities experienced better livelihoods and fewer incentives to turn to informal work, such as drug trafficking, illegal mining, and other illicit activities that continue the cycle of violence.
Illegal alluvial gold mining in Colombia is a complex phenomenon that not only sweeps away vegetation but alters the balance of ecosystems through aggressive mechanical extraction methods that create deserts. In Antioquia, Colombia this has degraded over 45 thousand hectares of land, stripping away valuable trees that can absorb carbon dioxide (CO2), one of the main greenhouse gases. The USAID-Oro Legal Activity brought together indigenous and Afro Colombian communities, the private sector, and local and departmental governments to mitigate the environmental impact of uncontrolled mineral exploitation on more than one thousand hectares of degraded ex-mining land. Today 1,133,220 Acacia mangium trees and other native species are greening large tracts of land where just a few years ago only rocks and bare soil could be found.
The Pasig River runs through the heart of Manila and flows from Laguna de Bay to Manila Bay. The river was a major source of water, food and livelihood and offered an alternative mode of transportation. In the 1990s, Pasig River with all its garbage and foul odor, was declared biologically dead. Rehabilitation efforts started after the Pasig River Rehabilitation Commission was created in 1999. The photo shows a section of the Pasig River two decades after rehabilitation.
This common sighting in the rivers of the Peruvian Amazon portrays a "buoyer," a person whose job consists of untying the logs that have floated to the bank of the river-like buoys from the forest concessions, a journey that usually takes over 24 hours. Nearly 40% of the Amazonian population in Peru rely economically on the timber value chain-including over 250,000 families, mostly of indigenous descent- which presents a unique opportunity to draw increased attention to the challenges and opportunities the forest sector faces nationwide. The Pro-Bosques Activity aims to capitalize on timber harvesting by promoting sustainable forest management in Peru, strengthening forest governance with innovative forest control and monitoring tools, while promoting private sector engagement and indigenous participation in forest value chains.
Jean Bruno, nursery agent, and his wife on April 12, 2019. Sahambavy, Fianarantsoa, Centra Madagascar on their tree nursery.
The ASOTRY project, implemented by ADRA and funded by USAID/FFP, restores forests through reforestation activity. It contributes to mitigating global warming by soaking up greenhouse gas emission. In Madagascar where bush fire and slash hand-burn agriculture are a common practice, reforestation is crucial.
In March 2019 in Son La Province, Vietnam the USAID/Vietnam Vietnam Forests and Deltas Project joined with Son La Province for a ceremonial tree planting commemorating Vietnam’s commitment to sustainable development. In Son La Province, the Vietnam Forests and Deltas project supports Vietnam’s Payments for Forest Environmental Services (PFES) mechanism. The project supports the transition from cash-based payments to electronic payments to improve transparency and accountability, and works with provincial authorities to better monitor and evaluate the impact PFES has on Vietnam’s forests. The Vietnam Forests and Deltas project is implemented by Winrock International in cooperation with the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development of Vietnam.
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.
Bataraza, Palawan, Philippines, June 18, 2019.
By Jessie Cereno, Talakatha Creatives.
A woman farmer in Bataraza, southern Palawan walks through a slash-and-burn area of an agricultural section of Mount Mantaligahan, 140 kms south of Puerto Princesa City in Palawan, Phiippines.
The Mount Mantalingahan Protected Landscape encompasses five municipalities, within these municipalities and bordering the protected area are 140,184 hectares of forestlands. The largely forested protected area and the forestlands around it provide various ecosystem services that benefit the local and indigenous communities. These ecosystem services include supplying water, food, medicine, scenic places, fertile soils, and wildlife habitats. The forest cover also prevents the occurrence of destructive forces like flash floods. Thus, it is in the best interest of the communities to have their forests and forestlands placed under an effective management system.
The USAID Protect Wildlife Project builds farmer capacities to use sustainable farming methods. The Project promotes planting a diversity of food crops, creating buffer zones of native trees around existing forest, and the reclamation of degraded land through reforestation and other practices.
Forests are still being cut down and burned to clear land for farming, ranching, and road building. Slash-and-burn contributes to climate change by releasing all the carbon that the forest trees have absorbed over their lifetimes.
John O. Niles (right) speaks to participants in a workshop held in May 2018 by the U.S. Forest Service and The Carbon Institute and supported by USAID’S Central Africa Regional Program for the Environment. Participants learned about calculating greenhouse gas emissions from land-use change. The U.S. Forest Service has partnered with the Carbon Institute, as well as government agencies, universities, and NGOs in the region to build regional capacity in carbon accounting to help countries better estimate greenhouse gas emissions in order to protect and preserve their rainforests. Accurate carbon accounting not only allows countries to identify threatened areas and causes of deforestation, but also allows them to apply for international funding to set up programs to protect these forests.
In May 2018, the U.S. Forest Service International Programs, in partnership with the Wildlife Conservation Society and supported by USAID’S Central Africa Regional Program for the Environment, held a birdwatching training to train guides from Kahuzi Biega and Virunga National Parks in birdwatching with the aim to diversify tourism activities to attract new types of visitors. Building capacity of national park staff to promote ecotourism 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.
In May 2018, the U.S. Forest Service International Programs, in partnership with the Wildlife Conservation Society and supported by USAID’S Central Africa Regional Program for the Environment, held a birdwatching training to train guides from Kahuzi Biega and Virunga National Parks in bird watching with the aim to diversify tourism activities to attract new types of visitors. Building capacity of national park staff to promote ecotourism 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.
The U.S. Forest Service International Programs, supported by USAID’s Central Africa Regional Program for the Environment, awards annual scholarships to promising government officials who complete Forest and Environmental Management Master's programs to improve capacity within environmental ministries across the region. Scholarship recipients traveled from Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Republic of the Congo, and São Tomé & Príncipe for a two-day networking event in Brazzaville in December 2017, where current students and program alumni had the opportunity to share their areas of expertise with U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of the Congo Todd Haskell. Training the next generation of professionals in the environmental sector is an essential step in helping countries develop sustainable economies as well as find ways to adapt to and mitigate the effects of climate change.