Policy

The U.S. Foundation for International Conservation Act Would Protect Wildlife, Lands and Waters

Mother and baby Puma in a field in front of mountains.
Torres Del Paine National Par Estimates suggest that monitored wildlife populations have declined by nearly 70% since 1970. This legislation would use public and private funding to protect biodiversity. © Robert McRae/TNC Photo Contest 2019

USFICA is bipartisan legislation that would accelerate funding for conservation where we need it most.

Extinction is a natural phenomenon. But the rate at which we’re losing fish, plants and animals—also referred to as biodiversity—has been speeding up exponentially in recent decades due to habitat destruction and natural disasters such as wildfires and drought. Scientists now predict we could lose half of all species by 2050

These signs of species loss are everywhere. Tropical forests—Earth’s greatest stores of biodiversity and carbon—are in retreat. Coastal wetlands—vital to bird migrations and fisheries—are deteriorating worldwide. These growing threats and challenges, not only jeopardize our planet’s future, but also threaten peoples’ livelihoods and safety. That’s why it’s never been more important to accelerate conservation efforts in some of the most species rich and vulnerable parts of the world.

Proposed federal legislation, called the U.S. Foundation for International Conservation Act (USFICA), would establish a fund that would leverage U.S. government, private sector and philanthropic funding to support local communities and Indigenous Peoples around the world who manage protected and conserved areas. 

USFICA has been approved by the House Foreign Affairs and Senate Foreign Relations Committees. This bipartisan legislation is sponsored by Sens. Chris Coons (D-Del.) and Lindsay Graham (R-S.C.) with companion legislation proposed by Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas) in the House.

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Rhino caretaker rests against white rhino.
WHITE RHINO Najin is one of the last two Northern White Rhinos left in the world. Here she rests with her friend and caretaker Zachary Mutai in Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya. The northern white rhino is all but extinct with the last two males dying several years ago, but there are scientific efforts underway to bring the White Rhino population back to life.

Legislation that Advances Global Conservation

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    $2B

    Amount that would be raised to support protected areas and communities over the next decade.

  • Icon of bird in marsh.

    70%

    This legislation would increase conservation efforts for monitored wildlife populations which have decreased 70% from 1970 to 2018.

  • Icon of plant.

    10-20

    The bill would develop a multi-year model to more effectively provide ongoing and sustainable support for global conservation projects.

This legislation would incentivize private and philanthropic funding to match U.S. government funds for sustainable, long-term conservation. 

Solving the biodiversity and climate crisis will require coordination across governments, private sector entities, local communities, Indigenous Peoples and other stakeholders.

The U.S. Foundation for International Conservation Act would incentivize philanthropic and private giving to match government funds by investing new and additional resources that would complement traditional U.S. foreign assistance to biodiversity conservation. Combined, this would provide consistent funding for protected areas globally and ensure the long-term protection of these critical landscapes and habitats. 

Why is this funding needed right now? Governments around the world have funded conservation for decades, but the current funding is no longer adequate to meet the growing challenges we face.

This bill would help close the conservation funding gap. According to recent research, the world needs to spend between $598 and $824 billion more each year to halt species extinctions and restore natural areas. While USFICA can’t close this gap on its own, it can inspire other efforts at the global level.

And it already is. On average, every dollar that the government invests in international conservation results in a $4 contribution from the private sector. So, USFICA is expected to inspire hundreds of millions of additional dollars for this work from corporations and philanthropic entities, many of which have already pledged their support.

Person walking in river with a net.
Upper Tana-Nairobi Water Fund River monitoring activities with the National Museums of Kenya. Scientists are looking for macro-invertebrates in the riverbed to document the types of species found in the river and see if there's been any human disturbance.
Five adult cheetahs sit together on a partially shaded rock outcropping.
Cheetahs wait for their feeding at Neuras in Namibia which is part of the Wildlife Sanctuary Naankuse. The sanctuary focuses on the preservation of natural habitats, conservation of at-risk wildlife and aims to empower and support local communities.
Upper Tana-Nairobi Water Fund River monitoring activities with the National Museums of Kenya. Scientists are looking for macro-invertebrates in the riverbed to document the types of species found in the river and see if there's been any human disturbance.
Cheetahs wait for their feeding at Neuras in Namibia which is part of the Wildlife Sanctuary Naankuse. The sanctuary focuses on the preservation of natural habitats, conservation of at-risk wildlife and aims to empower and support local communities.

Quote: Jennifer Morris

This act is a critical step toward promoting long-term, effective conservation strategies for lands and waters across the planet. It is also a commitment to our international partners that the United States is ready to do its part.

CEO, The Nature Conservancy
CONSERVING GRASSLANDS (2:29) This legislation would have a lasting impact for countries like Mongolia. Mongolia's grasslands are one of the planet’s most threatened ecosystems. They protect vital wildlife habitat and support over 200,000 nomadic families.

This legislation would have a lasting, on-the-ground impact on Indigenous communities and our most threatened landscapes.

Indigenous and local communities are often highly effective stewards of their land. In most parts of the tropics, for example, indigenous-managed forests have lower rates of deforestation than state-managed protected areas. The U.S. Foundation for International Conservation Act would provide up to $100 million each year in federal funds for community-led international conservation work like that being done in Mongolia. 

Mongolia’s grasslands are one of the planet’s most threatened ecosystems. Covering an area three times the size of California, they provide a rare refuge for native wildlife, such as snow leopards, argali sheep, gazelles and saiga—a critically endangered antelope. These grasslands also represent the world’s ninth largest peatlands, a major source for the capture, removal and storage of carbon.

Over 200,000 nomadic families rely on these grasslands for their livelihoods. With only a fraction currently protected, Mongolia has committed to conserving 30% of the country’s landscapes by 2030.

Project funding afforded through public-private partnerships established through the U.S. Foundation for International Conservation Act could create new protections for 9% of Mongolia’s lands and grasslands equivalent to 34.6 million acres. Investments and funding would also help improve the management of 105.2 million acres of new and existing protected areas across the country.

 

Two women laughing in Kenya while standing on a red clay path.
Sustainable conservation is only possible if it is profitable to the local community. Penina (right) and Grace (left) head home after attending a community engagement workshop led by the Taita-Taveta Wildlife Conservancies Association in Teri B community land. The Taita Taveta Wildlife Conservancies Association is a membership organization uniting the conservation efforts of 33 conservancies and ranches spread across 1 million acres of land in the iconic Taita Taveta-Tsavo ecosystem.
Large mountains with a grassland at the base.
TNC announced Eternal Mongolia, a Project Finance for Permanence (PFP) initiative that will invest in community-led conservation to protect Mongolia’s landscapes and build sustainable livelihoods and futures for Mongolia's nomadic herding families. USFICA is modeled after the PFP approach which has helped protect millions of acres of land, ocean and freshwater around the world.
Sustainable conservation is only possible if it is profitable to the local community. Penina (right) and Grace (left) head home after attending a community engagement workshop led by the Taita-Taveta Wildlife Conservancies Association in Teri B community land. The Taita Taveta Wildlife Conservancies Association is a membership organization uniting the conservation efforts of 33 conservancies and ranches spread across 1 million acres of land in the iconic Taita Taveta-Tsavo ecosystem.
TNC announced Eternal Mongolia, a Project Finance for Permanence (PFP) initiative that will invest in community-led conservation to protect Mongolia’s landscapes and build sustainable livelihoods and futures for Mongolia's nomadic herding families. USFICA is modeled after the PFP approach which has helped protect millions of acres of land, ocean and freshwater around the world.

This bill would invest in conservation to support U.S. national security and regional stability around the world.

Evidence has shown, time and again, that political stability depends on the stability of the natural world. The loss of nature creates vacuums for crime, violence and war. Examples can be found around the world from armed conflicts in Syria and Somalia which intensified because of severe droughts to extreme weather events which displace an average of 21.5 million people each year. 

By safeguarding threatened natural habitats and the biodiversity they support, USFICA would improve national security in the U.S. and promote regional stability worldwide. 

Conservation also stimulates economic growth by providing jobs, skills training and local revenue. By supporting and enlisting the help of local and Indigenous communities, we can better implement on-the-ground conservation and restoration work and improve the quality of life for those who live and work around important protected areas.

Person standing in mangroves in Kenya.
Kenya mangroves Zulfa Hassan, founder of the Mtangawanda Women’s Association, stands in the mangrove plantation that she and the group manage at a restoration site near Mtangawanda, Lamu, Kenya. Lamu County is home to nearly 60% of Kenya's mangrove population, an important ecosystem that also defends coastlines from storms and stores carbon. © Sarah Waiswa