Many ecosystems and species in CAFTA-DR countries are adversely impacted by habitat loss and illegal harvesting and trade. The protection of wildlife and habitat is critical to long-term economic and environmental development in Central America and the Dominican Republic. Illegal trade in wildlife (flora and fauna) poses a serious threat to such development. To combat such trade and protect wildlife and habitat, the Environmental Cooperation Program is working to prevent species trade that violates international standards. This work includes enforcing the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), and improving the protection and management of forest resources and protected areas.

Our Activities focus on three areas:

  • Combating illegal trade in endangered species by training and other capacity-building activities for officials responsible for implementing the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).
  • Protecting wildlife by supporting animal rescue facilities, training shrimpers to reduce by-catch of endangered turtles, and educating the public on the economic and ecological importance of protecting wildlife.
  • Promoting sustainable ecosystem management for forest, protected area and other important ecological systems.

The Program’s efforts include:

  • Strengthening scientific and institutional capacity of CITES authorities.
  • Training officials responsible for implementation of CITES.
  • Building intelligence networks, educating the public about the economic and ecological importance of protecting wildlife.
  • Supporting new or existing animal rescue centers.
  • Preventing illegal logging.
  • Promoting the sustainable management of wildlife, forests, protected areas, and other ecologically important ecosystems.
  • As a result of CAFTA-DR Environmental Cooperation Program, 1.3 million hectares of biological significance were under improved natural resource management.
  • Over 19.1 million people were reached by outreach campaigns to raise public awareness on biodiversity and endangered species conservation.
  • Nearly 122,000 people including government officials were trained in natural resource management, biodiversity conservation and endangered species protection.
  • More than 8,000 animals and 150 species have benefited from the new rescue centers program established in CAFTA-DR countries.
  • More than 400 officials from law enforcement agencies (attorney generals, judges, police and armed forces) were trained on best practices to implement wildlife regulations in the operational framework of the Central American Wildlife Enforcement Network (CAWEN).
  • Over 1,300 participants from governmental, NGO, and community sectors participated in CITES management and technical capacity-building efforts.
  • 203 laws and 29 regulations were adopted to foster biodiversity protection, including legislation in Costa Rica, El Salvador and Honduras. Over 100 agents involved in the processing of timber violations.
  • In the Dominican Republic, 3,400 articles made of sea turtles were seized, and 285 pieces of jewelry and other turtle products were confiscated.
  • CAFTA-DR Environmental Cooperation Program financial contributions were leveraged to attract nearly US$21 million in additional funding for conservation efforts from other sources, including payment for environmental services and conservation funds provided by governments.
  • Development of guidelines, methodologies and tools to improve the skills of CITES and fisheries authorities to formulate non-detrimental findings (NDFs).
  • Review of process to update CITES regulations in El Salvador, Honduras and Costa Rica.