Biodiversity Photo Contest 2023

The results of the 2023 Biodiversity Photo Contest are in! Congratulations to our 10 winners.

This year’s theme for International Day for Biological Diversity is “From Agreement to Action: Build Back Biodiversity.” 

As the name suggests, this year’s celebration on May 22 marks  the adoption of the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework at the 15th Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity – and the pivot to its implementation. USAID works in over 60 countries and across sectors to conserve biodiversity, fight conservation crime, and support sustainable fisheries. These  programs help the world’s most vulnerable people secure better health and well-being outcomes while managing and conserving their natural wealth. And, they also bolster many of the strategic objectives of USAID’s new Climate Strategy as we work toward a resilient, prosperous, and equitable world with net-zero emissions.

To commemorate International Day of Biological Diversity, USAID is pleased to share the winners of the 2023 Biodiversity Photo Contest. These photos tell the story of USAID’s biodiversity programming across nine key areas: food security; nature-based solutions to climate change; diversity, equity, inclusion; marine/fisheries; combating conservation crime; wildlife conservation; One Health; communities and conservation; and conservation enterprises.

To view the entire gallery of submissions and download the winning photos as virtual backgrounds, phone wallpapers, and computer wallpapers, visit the USAID Biodiversity Flickr page.


Drying and grinding kava roots in Ferafolia Community, Malaita Province, Solomon Islands. Photo Credit: Lesli Davis/USAID

In Solomon Islands, USAID is supporting communities in Malaita Province to conserve their land for growing crops such as kava. By drying and grinding the roots before adding water, the shrub is transformed into a relaxing tea-like beverage that is used for medicinal, religious, political, cultural, and social purposes throughout the Pacific. USAID’s Strengthening Competitiveness Agriculture and Livelihoods project supports communities to develop livelihoods while protecting their natural resources and biodiversity by increasing the quality of agricultural products such as kava, growing linkages to national and international markets, and promoting more favorable business regulations.

Photo Credit: Lesli Davis/USAID

Location:  Ferafolia Community, Malaita Province, Solomon Islands


Jamaican Rock Iguana basking on tree branch. Photo Credit: Joey Markx/International Iguana Foundation

USAID and the International Iguana Foundation, through the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service’s Caribbean Regional Program, works with local stakeholders to protect and manage the critically endangered Jamaican Rock Iguana, found nowhere else on Earth. Once thought to be extinct, this species was rediscovered within the Hellshire Hills, Portland Bight Protected Area in the 1990s and has since been the focus of intensive conservation efforts. Preliminary surveys located only a handful of old individuals. Through invasive species control, protection, and monitoring, more than 600 iguanas are now known to live within the Hellshire Hills, making this a globally recognized conservation success on track to becoming a self-sustaining species in the near future.

Photo Credit: Joey Markx/International Iguana Foundation

Location: Hellshire Hills, Jamaica


Si Rany, IBIS Rice Farmer, smiling while farming in Cambodia. Photo Credit: Sambo Chheng/USAID Morodok Baitang

Before joining USAID’s Cambodia Mission’s organic wildlife-friendly rice program under IBIS Rice, Si Rany faced challenges with accessing markets and unstable prices. She joined the program after learning that IBIS Rice protects forests and endangered species while fetching a premium price for organic jasmine rice. USAID is partnering with the Cambodia NGO Sansom Mlup Prey to expand the reach of IBIS Rice from 15 to 22 villages around Siem Pang, Lomphat, and Keo Seima Wildlife Sanctuaries. The IBIS Rice model has improved the livelihoods of more than 1,100 households like Rany’s by paying organic rice farmers premium prices for their commitments to adhere to basic conservation commitments like no hunting, cutting forests, or clearing land in these protected areas. “I am happy with the results, because I know our rice is chemical-free and we can sell it for a higher price,” said Rany.

Photo Credit: Sambo Chheng/USAID Morodok Baitang

Location: Khes Kroam village, Prek Meas commune, Siem Pang district, Stung Treng province, Cambodia


Woman harvesting seagrass with a smile in Zambales, Philippines. Photo Credit: Blue Motus/USAID SIBOL Project

After Typhoon Paeng in October 2022, tons of seagrass accumulated on the shores of Masinloc, Luzon Island, Philippines, prompting residents to develop ways to utilize these organic waste products. They now collect and air dry the seagrasses and sell them to entrepreneurs who process them into fertilizers. To make the enterprise more sustainable, residents only harvest seagrass that are already washed ashore. Seagrass that are alive and growing in shallow in-shore areas serve as coastal habitat to marine species. USAID works with local stakeholders in Masinloc to help support the livelihood of communities and sustainably conserve these important marine resources.

Photo Credit: Blue Motus/USAID SIBOL Project

Location: Zambales, Philippines


Fishing in the Rapti River Basin, Nepal. Photo Credit: Sudin Bajracharya/USAID Paani Project

Fishing is a main source of livelihood for the Tharu Indigenous community that live along the rivers such as the Rapti in the southern plains of Nepal. Fishers were key beneficiaries of the USAID Paani (which means “water” in Nepali) Program, which helped form, organize, strengthen capacity, and mobilize community aquatic animal conservation groups. Under Paani, multiple users of the river systems conserve and co-manage river stretches in collaboration with their local governments. 

Photo Credit: Sudin Bajracharya/USAID Paani Project

Location: Rapti River Basin, Nepal


Cattle ranching in Colombia’s eastern flooded plains. Photo Credit: Hanz Rippe/USAID Natural Wealth Program

Cattle ranching in Colombia’s eastern flooded plains is a very old tradition, and the savanna ecosystem has co-evolved with this economic activity. Under USAID’s Natural Wealth project, cattle ranchers worked to improve livestock-raising practices to conserve flooded savannas, and to diversify their income with ecotourism and carbon credits for the voluntary carbon market derived from this powerful carbon sink ecosystem.

Photo Credit: Hanz Rippe/USAID Natural Wealth Program

Location: Casanare, Colombia


Boana lanciformis, an amphibian species found in the conserved forest concessions, perches on a branch in Peru’s Amazon forests. Photo Credit: Green Gold Forestry Perú S.A.

Peru’s Amazon forests, with a wide diversity of flora and fauna species, provide several critical ecosystem services for human well-being and health, but these ecosystems are currently threatened. Through the USAID-funded Sustainable Management of Forestry Concessions project, Green Gold Forestry Perú S.A. manages more than three-quarters of a million acres of tropical forest for the conservation and sustainable use of natural resources. There are 256 species of wildlife under conservation in these forests (large mammals, birds, and reptiles), including 11 in some category of threat such as Endangered (EN), Vulnerable (VU), or Near Threatened (NT), on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List. Some of the identified specimens are the giant otter (EN), the red-billed toucan (VU), and jaguar (NT). This photo shows a Boana lanciformis, an amphibian species found in the conserved forest concessions, which represents a great indicator of fragile ecosystems and an important link in the food chain as an insect predator.

Photo Credit: Carlos Valqui, Green Gold Forestry Perú S.A.

Location: San Regis, Marañón, Loreto, Perú


A group of community-based forest protection officers in Bago City, Philippines, dismantle an illegally established hut. Photo Credit: Noel P. Labutap/USAID Safe Water Project

Integrating science-based planning and technology-based monitoring tools to protect forests and watersheds, the Local Government Unit of Bago City, Negros Occidental, Philippines, with technical assistance from USAID’s Safe Water Project and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, is implementing the Lawin Forest & Biodiversity Protection System to further strengthen community-based forest protection initiatives. Organizations like the Kanla-on Green Brigade volunteers, a group of community-based forest protection officers in Bago City, regularly patrol the Strict Protection Zone of Mount Kanla-on Natural Park. Here a team dismantles an illegally established hut.

Photo Credit: Noel P. Labutap/USAID Safe Water Project

Location: Mount Kanla-on Natural Park, Bago City, Negros Occidental, Philippines


The Apinajé Indigenous women’s fire brigade in Brazil, Tocantins State, Tocantinópolis.  Photo Credit: Bruno Kelly/USAID

The Second Indigenous Women’s Fire Brigade is joining efforts to reduce wildfires in the Amazon state of Tocantins in north central Brazil. The group of 40 Apinajé women received intense theoretical and practical training to fight fires, and will use prescribed burning to protect their territory, an area of more than 350,000 acres located between the Araguaia and Tocantins rivers. The National Center for Preventing and Fighting Forest Fires of the Brazilian Institute of the Environment and Renewable Natural Resources and the U.S. Forest Service provided the training with support from USAID/Brazil’s Forest Management and Fire Prevention Program. The Apinajé Indigenous women’s fire brigade organized additional support from the Casa Socioambiental Fund, the National Indigenous Peoples Foundation, and the municipal governments of Tocantinópolis, Cachoeirinhas, and Maurilândia.

Photo Credit: Bruno Kelly/USAID

Location: Brazil, Tocantins State, Tocantinópolis


A man grins while holding giant mushrooms that he collected in Licuati Forest Reserve in Maputo city, Mozambique.  Photo Credit: Denise Nicolau/BIOFUND

A man grins while holding giant mushrooms that he collected in Licuati Forest Reserve, an area with strong cultural value for local communities of the Matutuíne region in Maputo city, Mozambique. USAID and BIOFUND are helping these communities explore new and innovative financing mechanisms to support biodiversity conservation and promote community development.

Photo Credit: Denise Nicolau/BIOFUND

Location: Licuati Forest Reserve, Matutuíne, Maputo, Mozambique