Spread over nearly 4 million square kilometers, the lands of the Caribbean region are home to a wealth of wildlife. In fact, it is home to approximately 6,500 plant, 150 bird, 470 reptile, 40 mammal, 170 amphibian and 65 fish unique species found nowhere else in the world.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) together with the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), works to conserve iconic species and ecosystems in the Caribbean. The USFWS Caribbean Program provides technical and financial support to projects that reduce threats to biodiversity and strengthen the capacities of local individuals and institutions to undertake sustained biodiversity conservation actions in the long-term.

Why is the Region is Important

In addition to the thousands of unique plant and animals only found in the Caribbean, the region’s unique diversity of coral reefs, mangrove forests, and seagrass beds are an important feeding and breeding area for a variety of fish, marine mammals, seabirds, and sea turtles.

These ecological systems provide services such as storm protection, erosion control, and food provisions for local
communities, while contributing to the economy of the Caribbean and also to the American Gulf Region by supporting
healthy commercial, recreational, and subsistence fisheries.

While the nature that can be found in the Caribbean is an integral part of what makes the region such an appealing destination for tourists, the wildlife of the Caribbean Region is threatened by the growing and compounding effects of invasive species, agricultural encroachment and intensification, residential and commercial development, detrimental tourism activities, and wildlife trafficking.

7.8 million U.S. citizens traveled to the Caribbean in 2016, according to U.S. Department of Commerce statistics. This constitutes 22% of all overseas travel by Americans, making it the 2nd most visited region by Americans in the world following Europe. The Caribbean Program seeks to conserve the unique species and ecosystems of the region by empowering local actors to implement solutions that are sustainable, culturally sound, and economically viable, so Caribbean people and nature can thrive.

Fishermen in Haiti. Credit: Stephane Venne / Creative Commons license

Fishermen in Haiti. Credit: Stephane Venne / Creative Commons license

Focus Areas for Grant Funding in FY 2019

You can find our FY2019 Notice of Funding Opportunity here as well as additional guidance on how to apply for a grant. Below is a synopsis of funding focus areas for this year:

  • Conservation of Critically Endangered Species and their Habitats: The Service seeks to support-on-the-ground projects that promote a comprehensive approach to the recovery and conservation of threatened species and their habitats in the Caribbean, reduce the threats and increase local capacities to engage in species conservation actions and management.

  • Addressing Illegal Trade of Wildlife in the Caribbean: In the Caribbean region wildlife trafficking threatens an increasing variety of terrestrial and marine species including but not limited to marine turtles, queen conch, spiny lobsters, sharks, parrots, macaws, reptiles, timber, among others, while damaging local communities and undermining sustainable development efforts. The Service intends to support projects that address the root causes of illegal wildlife trade, by improving the capacities of Caribbean government agencies, their personnel and civil society to protect biodiversity from poaching and trafficking.

  • Coastal and Marine Protected Areas Management and Conservation through Institutional Capacity Building and Local Community Engagement: The Service seeks to support projects that strengthen the management and
    conservation of coastal and marine protected areas and their buffer zones, while effectively addressing
    the key threats to priority species and ecosystems and providing alternatives that support the rational use of natural
    resources by the local communities.