Where We Work
Regional and Cross Cutting Work
Latin America and the Caribbean
- Central America: The USFS International Programs Office (USFS-IP) works with the US Department of State to implement the Environmental Cooperation Program of the Central America Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA-DR) that includes Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and the US. This program aims to strengthen environmental protection, improve environmental performance of the private sector, and promote public participation for environmental decision-making. Along with its CAFTA-DR partners, USFS-IP promotes continued cooperation to reduce the harvest, processing, and trade of illegal timber of rosewood and other threatened timber species, and to ensure implementation of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).
- Illegal Logging: Curbing illegal logging is an economic, national security, environmental and human rights issue. As one of the world’s largest international traders in forest products, the United States depends on the long-term viability and legitimacy of the forest products market. Illegal logging hurts both the U.S. consumer and our timber industry. Furthermore, illegal logging undermines international governance and rule of law, and can devastate the environment by stimulating rapid deforestation and forest degradation. The U.S. Forest Service International Programs office supports both policy and technical efforts to curb illegal logging. Building on our global partnership and the skillsets of our diverse workforce, USFS offers expertise aimed to improve law enforcement, border patrol, and forest monitoring for countries struggling with illegal logging. In Latin America, specifically, we work across Mexico, Central, and South America to reduce illegal logging, strengthen forest governance, and improve local livelihoods through sustainable land management. Under the Central America Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA-DR) with State Department support, we work to reduce the illegal harvesting of rosewood species. Activities in this program include wood identification workshops, seed bank technical assistance trainings, and the publication of informational brochures and reports. In South America, we have introduced innovative new technologies, such as DNA testing, timber tracking, and automated wood identification devices. International Programs also builds capacity for forest monitoring throughout Latin America so that countries can more accurately monitor their forests and therefore detect illegal logging and determine the locations of illicit logging activities. Lastly, throughout the Americas, we have coordinated with the State Department and the Department of Justice to provide regional environmental law enforcement and prosecutorial trainings that focus on combatting illegal logging and its international trade.
- Latin America and the Caribbean Regional Wildland Fire Cooperation and Training: As a leader in fire management in the US for over 100 years, the USFS responds to over 70,000 fires annually and employs 10,000 professional wildland firefighters. In the US, our approach has evolved from reactive suppression to integrated policy that accounts for the environmental, social and political context for wildland fire. Catastrophic wildfires have become more frequent and impactful in Central and South America as a result of environmental stressors, prolonged dry seasons, and other weather phenomenon impacting the region. Across the region, current approaches to prevention, preparedness, and response are challenged to deal with current and emerging wildland fire threats. The USFS has worked in partnership with countries throughout the region to provide ongoing capacity building and institutional strengthening on all aspects of wildland fire management and prevention. These efforts have focused on strengthening fire management through improving strategic planning, coordination and training, and promoting interagency and international collaboration, applying best practices and efficient knowledge-sharing across the region. The USFS is committed to working with regional partners to develop a stronger network for wildland fire management.
- SilvaCarbon: With support of the U.S. Agency for International Development and the Department of State and in partnership with other United States federal agencies, the SilvaCarbon program invests in science to promote a better understanding not only of the changes in land cover, but also of the effectiveness of various efforts to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions from land use change. This can aid in promoting transparency in national and international mitigation actions in the forest and land use sector. It also strengthens multilateral efforts to combat climate change and informs countries on optimal ways to design and improve carbon inventory and monitoring efforts. In the Andean Amazon, since the beginning of SilvaCarbon activities in 2011, decision-makers and technicians from Colombia, Ecuador and Peru have participated in regional workshops and capacity building exercises to address their shared interest in development of forest inventories, mapping technologies and greenhouse gas reporting methods. This regional approach in the Andean Amazon has helped foment relationships and knowledge sharing between the national agencies responsible for designing and implementing forest monitoring systems. Based on initial assessments, the SilvaCarbon in the Andean Amazon program focuses on building capacity for design and implementation of National Forest Inventories to provide accurate estimates of carbon stock and other forest resource data, building capacity in the use of remotely sensed data, development of consistent products over time to establish a greenhouse gas inventory in each country, and strengthening the community of forest and terrestrial carbon technical experts in the region. Central American counties are at various stages in their forest inventory planning and implementation process. Some countries are just starting to design their inventories while others have completed national and research inventories using different methodologies such as remote sensing, field plots, and LIDAR. Technical gaps include forest inventory design and implementation, forest inventory attributes for carbon measurement, and remote sensing classification and modeling. Central America SilvaCarbon works to improve forest inventories in the region so that they are statistically robust and integrate both country and regional level information needs. The program also engages with the region on new ways to integrate inventory data with remote sensing. It supports South-South cooperation and continues to engage with Global SilvaCarbon activities, cultivates a network of forest inventory and terrestrial carbon technical experts and coordinates with other donors and partners to ensure complementarity. South-South collaboration takes place when capacity is built in one partner country and they, in turn, take a lead or assist in training other partnering countries within the program.
- Sustainable Wetland Adaptation and Mitigation Program: The Sustainable Wetland Adaptation and Mitigation Program (SWAMP) is a global research collaboration to enhance knowledge and build scientific capacity for the study of tropical wetlands. In South America, this initiative entails a partnership between the U.S. Forest Service, the Center for International Forestry Research, U.S. Agency for International Development, and several partner institutions in the host countries. South America study areas include forested peatland and mangroves as well as mountain wetlands in Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, and Brazil. These ecosystems have been identified by the participating countries as high priority for implementing activities to reduce deforestation and forest degradation, and for improved protection and management. The work in South America will contribute data to the global database of information about wetlands maintained by the Center for International Forestry Research, based in Indonesia.
- SilvaCarbon: With support of the U.S. Agency for International Development and the Department of State and in partnership with other United States federal agencies, the SilvaCarbon program invests in science to promote a better understanding not only of the changes in land cover, but also of the effectiveness of various efforts to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions from land use change. This can aid in promoting transparency in national and international mitigation actions in the forest and land use sector. It also strengthens multilateral efforts to combat climate change and informs countries on optimal ways to design and improve carbon inventory and monitoring efforts. Since its inception in 2011, the SilvaCarbon Africa program has been focused on supporting national forest monitoring and inventory efforts in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Republic of the Congo, and Cameroon. Due to its vast and bio-diverse forested areas, Central Africa is widely recognized as a global priority for sustainable forest management. U.S. Government agencies implementing SilvaCarbon activities in Central Africa include the U.S. Forest Service and the U.S. Geological Survey, which work in collaboration with a number of other partner institutions. In 2019, Ethiopia and Zambia were added to the Africa program, to support the World Bank’s Initiative for Sustainable Forest Landscapes (ISFL) and build capacity of sub-national actors in forest- and other land-sector carbon monitoring and inventory approaches.
- Sustainable Wetland Adaptation and Mitigation Program: Africa contains approximately 131 million hectares of wetlands, with peatlands comprising 5 to 6 million hectares and mangroves approximately 3 million hectares. The importance of wetlands for biodiversity, as well as the myriad of other ecosystem services they provide, including their role in carbon cycling, is widely acknowledged. The societal benefits derived from wetlands are significant in Africa, where coastal inhabitants rely heavily on mangroves for their livelihoods. While progress has been made to advance relevant policies, as well as to map and document mangroves and wetlands across Africa (e.g. via support from Ramsar Convention; initiatives led by IUCN and Wetlands International), information about the wetlands of Africa remains relatively scarce. This relative scarcity is particularly acute with regard to characteristics of the wetlands and the socioeconomic considerations for their sustainable use. The USFS SWAMP program in Africa, active for more than seven years, has been engaged with pioneering research into the carbon stocks of mangrove forests, and is currently applying that with support to nations and communities on carbon reporting, restoration best practices, community management and sustainable harvest models, and regional knowledge sharing. Past and current countries of activity include Tanzania, Mozambique, Ghana, and Senegal.
Asia and the Pacific
- Asia Pacific: Across the Asia region, the U.S. Forest Service is working with the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and other key partners on climate change, biodiversity, and disaster management programs. On climate change topics, U.S. Forest Service is collaborating with USAID’s Regional Development Mission for Asia (RDMA) to better understand how various agricultural commodities are driving forest loss across Southeast Asia, with the goal of improving climate change mitigation strategies from the land sector. In addition, U.S. Forest Service co-implements a regional SilvaCarbon program to build capacity for measuring, monitoring, and reporting forest and terrestrial carbon. In biodiversity work, U.S. Forest Service supports local non-profit organizations in implementing grassroots conservation efforts. Finally, U.S. Forest Service provides technical assistance and training support to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations to improve disaster management and coordination through regional cooperation.
- Regional Development Mission for Asia: For almost two decades, the U.S. Forest Service has partnered with the U.S. Agency for International Development’s (USAID) Regional Development Mission for Asia on combating wildlife trafficking and mitigating climate change. Currently, USFS is studying how various agricultural commodities are driving forest loss across seven Southeast Asian countries. This comprehensive study will inform the development of USAID’s and other key partners’ strategies to reduce emissions from the land sector.
- SilvaCarbon: With support of the U.S. Agency for International Development and the Department of State and in partnership with United States federal agencies, the SilvaCarbon program invests in science to promote a better understanding not only of the changes in land cover, but also of the effectiveness of various efforts to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions from land use change. This can aid in promoting transparency in national and international mitigation actions in the forest and land use sector. It also strengthens multilateral efforts to combat climate change and informs countries on optimal ways to design and improve carbon inventory and monitoring efforts. Since 2013, SilvaCarbon is working with partner countries and related initiatives in Asia to support the development of transparent and cost-effective national forest monitoring systems. The regional SilvaCarbon program engages eight countries: Bangladesh, Cambodia, Lao PDR, Nepal, Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam. In addition, there is a SilvaCarbon country program dedicated to Vietnam. Through frequent trainings, workshops, and regional technical exchanges SilvaCarbon develops strong cadre of forest monitoring specialists, and helps countries adopt latest methodologies for meeting international reporting requirements.
International Programs | Main phone number +1-202-644-4600 | Fax number +1-202-644-4603 | 1 Thomas Circle NW, Suite 400 | Washington, D.C. USA 20005