Community Partnerships to Strengthen Sustainable Development Program (Compass), is an interagency partnership activity of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Bangladesh and United States Forest Service, International Programs (USFS/IP). The program was launched in 2019 to address emerging natural resource management challenges in Bangladesh. Through evidence-based scientific exchange, the Compass program works to enhance the capacity of institutions and communities to manage natural resources and improve livelihoods. To address these challenges, Compass will establish a youth conservation corps, collaborate with communities on forest landscape restoration and promoting public participation in natural resource management, provide technical support to Bangladesh Forest Department (BFD) through continued partnership, and strengthen the capacity of academic and research institutions to support natural resource management and resilience.

The objectives of Compass program are to:

  • Increase employability skills and career opportunities for marginalized at-risk youth
  • Enhance the capacity of institutions to manage natural resources, including tree cover and carbon sequestration.
  • Improve livelihoods and quality of life by developing natural resource management-based community enterprise.

Compass will achieve its objectives through the five major components or program activities below:

Program Activity 1:    Establish a Youth Conservation Corps (YCC) in Bangladesh

YCC, Bangladesh engages underprivileged Bangladeshi youths to enhance their capacity to improve livelihoods and conserve natural resources. YCC develop these youths’ soft and vocational skills and instill environmental stewardship in them through experience-based training, community service, and internships.

Program Activity 2:    Strengthen community capacity and promote public participation

To restore degraded forests and manage natural resources in Chittagong Hill Tracts, Compass is engaging stakeholders and community members in a participatory approach to environmental restoration. Compass is raising awareness on integrated forest landscape management among the communities stewarding the Village Common Forests (VCFs) in Bandarban District, including skills development, alternative livelihoods and community shared governance of mixed-use landscapes.

Program Activity 3:    Increase technical cooperation on forest and ecosystem management

Compass continues to build and ongoing partnership with Bangladesh Forest Department for improved forest and ecosystem management. Efforts are focused on reinforcing institutionalization and application of the National Forest Inventory data, strengthening technical capacity for remote sensing and satellite imagery application, and ecosystem valuation and investment strategies.

Program Activity 4:    Strengthen the capacity of academic & research institutions in natural resource management and resilience

Compass is supporting academic and research institutions to empower practitioners and students through science-based technical cooperation on leading techniques, knowledge, and skills in forest management and monitoring. Activities include joint research and fellowship programs, seminars, updating academic curricula and course work to meet current and future needs of forest management.

Program Activity 5:    Promote global exchange of natural resource knowledge and skills

Compass is promoting global exchange of knowledge and skills in natural resource management. This is being achieved through technical collaborations. USFS International Seminar Series, regional coordination and exchanges, and through promoting participation and engagement in other applications of the USFS global networks.