Story Spotlight

Dedication & Unity Prevent Extinction of One of World's Most Endangered Lizards

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

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, in collaboration with the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), is supporting efforts that reduce threats to key species and ecosystems in the Caribbean 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 2018

You can find our FY2018 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: We seek to support on-the ground projects that promote a comprehensive approach to the recovery and conservation of Caribbean iguanas and their habitats, and increase local capacities to engage in iguana conservation actions and management.

  • Addressing Illegal Trade of Wildlife in the Caribbean: We intend to support regional and transnational 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 illegal trafficking and overexploitation.

  • Strengthening the Leadership and Professional Capacities of Young Conservation Professionals in the Caribbean:
    We will provide seed funding for the development and implementation of an ongoing professional leadership and capacity building program for young conservation practitioners in the Caribbean. Proposals should focus on strengthening the ability of Caribbean individuals, institutions, NGOs, and networks to carry out conservation activities that reduce threats to regional biodiversity in the short and long-term.

  • Protected Areas Management and Conservation through Institutional Capacity Building and Local Community Engagement: We seek to support projects that strengthen the management and conservation of coastal and marine protected areas and their buffer zones while providing sustainable livelihood alternatives to local communities.