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Why We Work Internationally

Young woman in heard hat and green field jacket receives a bundle of flaggers from another young woman out of frame

The Forest Service offers over 100 years of experience in natural resource management, biodiversity conservation, and disaster preparedness and response. Through international engagement, agency experts can promote sustainable management practices globally while being exposed to new ideas that further the health of forests and grasslands here at home. The agency partners with the U.S. Department of State, USAID, host country governments, NGOs, and the private sector to benefit people and the environment.


A very small seedling grows from the center of a stump. A deforested area and mountains can be seen in the background.

Global trade of forest products is estimated to exceed $1 trillion per year, approximately 15% of which originates from illegally harvested wood. Illegally harvested timber undermines legitimate producers, disrupts world markets, and damages forest ecosystems.

Ultimately, the illegal harvest of forest products harms the U.S. economy by making American forest products less competitive, and negatively impacts U.S. jobs. Forest Service International Programs works with partners to combat illegal logging, leveling the playing field in international trade for legitimate timber producers. 

A colorful bird perches on a limb.

Many species undertake perilous seasonal journeys, migrating across country borders to spend the winter in warmer climates. The current situation for many North American migratory species is dire, with over 60% declining. Forest Service International Programs works extensively throughout the Americas to develop capacity to better manage the winter homes for these birds, bats, and butterflies—a small investment with a huge impact. The agency works to protect and restore habitat, develop conservation education programs, and improve protected area management.

A spotted lantern fly on the bark of a tree spreads its wings showing its speckled white and red coloring

Invasive species damage forests and grasslands, inflicting multibillion-dollar losses to the global economy. The outlook is alarming: there are at least 20 destructive forest pests expected to enter the U.S. in the coming decade, introduced accidentally through trade. Forest Service International Programs brings together agency scientists and land managers with their counterparts in the countries from which the invasive species originate. Through international collaboration, pests already in the U.S. can be better controlled and new introductions can be prevented.

Five people standing in a line and wearing formal business attire display handbooks

Social, environmental, and economic problems cannot be solved in isolation or by one nation. We work with counterparts overseas and with multilateral institutions to ensure that the U.S. forestry community’s interests are reflected in policy decisions. Our team provides technical and policy input to the U.S. Department of State, the U.S. Agency for International Development, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, and the U.S. Department of Commerce. These include domestic and international conservation, climate change adaptation, forest landscape restoration, forest product trade, and forest health.

Two men use firefighting equipment to put out a small far in the grass. Smoke rises up from the tall grass.

The Forest Service offers valuable expertise to the U.S. government’s response to natural disasters around the world. The Forest Service applies knowledge in incident management, wildfire response, and other technical areas to alleviate human suffering during disasters. Forest Service International Programs proactively assists countries in developing their own their own internal disaster management capabilities before a crisis strikes.

Man crosses a wooden bridge over a river with a lush mangrove forest in the background

Destruction of forests produces up to a quarter of all greenhouse gas emissions and harms forest-dependent communities, ecosystems, and economies. An estimated 1.6 billion people depend on forests for a host of services that help societies thrive in the face of climate change. Well-managed forests are essential for curbing emissions; Forest Service International Programs is promoting community co-management of forests to improve local economic opportunities, food security, water conservation and carbon sequestration.