Philippines—Protect Wildlife

Client: U.S. Agency for International Development

Duration: 2016-2021

Region: Asia and the Pacific

Country: Philippines

Solutions: Environment

Environmental degradation and habitat destruction throughout the Philippines are not only harming wildlife but also undermining people’s livelihoods and creating social instability. In addition, wildlife poaching and trade continues to be a growing problem in the country, driven by poverty, porous borders, and weak law enforcement. It is within this context that the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) launched Protect Wildlife, a multi-pronged program that worked to conserve biodiversity, protect wildlife, and sustain ecosystem services in ways that also improved the local population’s livelihoods and long-term well-being.

Recognizing that the solutions to combating wildlife trafficking and biodiversity loss in the Philippines are complex, DAI took a holistic approach that included supporting ecologically sustainable fisheries and income-generating options for local communities, education and awareness campaigns, increased biodiversity research opportunities, and strong enforcement of environmental laws. Protect Wildlife promoted solutions grounded in the context of each community—taking into account which species are threatened, how populations are affected, and the capacity of local police and governments—to provide sustainable livelihood alternatives and promote lasting behavior change.

By 2020, Protect Wildlife had improved the conservation of more than 200,000 hectares of a landscape important for biodiversity and water supply through a payment for ecosystem services program for services valued at $5.5 billion annually, revenue that is now reinvested in conservation and restoration directly benefiting 33 communities.

Sample Activities

  • Broker partnerships that provide financial support to local conservation efforts through direct investment in ecologically sound commercial ventures.
  • Support targeted behavior change campaigns to improve attitudes toward biodiversity and increase participation in conservation.
  • Coordinate with local and national partners to design and deliver training in community-based natural resource management and deputize a cadre of local wildlife protection officers.
  • Help leading Philippine universities establish centers of excellence in conservation to produce research, support evidence-based policymaking, and train the next generation of conservation scientists.
  • Develop and disseminate mobile application that enables community members to upload GPS-registered photos and anonymously report illegal activity.

Select Results

  • Assisted local governments in southern Palawan and in Zamboanga City to develop and operationalize governance schemes such as ring-fencing, business planning, and re-investment planning.
  • Supported Western Philippines University’s field research on sea cucumber growth and survival with the release of hatchery-produced juveniles into ocean nursery systems.
  • Developed a syllabus for environmental law and protection that universities may integrate into their criminology programs.
  • Facilitated advancement of one national and three local policy initiatives related to wildlife and environmental crime prevention and trained 368 government staff in combating wildlife and environmental crime.
  • Placed 141,296 hectares of biologically significant areas under improved natural resource management.
  • Helped develop a mobile app called WildAlert to identify wildlife species and report illicit activities.
  • Rolled out first-ever field study to survey Philippine eagles.


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