El Salvador map

The smallest country in continental America, El Salvador shares borders with Guatemala and Honduras. It is the only Central American country that has no Caribbean coastline. El Salvador's economy was historically dominated by agriculture, beginning with the indigo plant, the most important crop during the colonial period, and followed by coffee, which by the early 20th century accounted for 90% of export earnings. El Salvador has since reduced its dependence on coffee, and embarked on diversifying the economy by opening up trade and financial links and expanding the manufacturing sector. Recent conservation efforts provide hope for the future of the country's biological diversity. In 1997, the government established the Ministry of the Environment and Natural Resources. A general environmental framework law was approved by the National Assembly in 1999. In addition, a number of non-governmental organizations are doing important work to safeguard some of the country's most important forested areas. Foremost among these is SalvaNatura, which manages El Impossible, the country's largest national park under an agreement with El Salvador's environmental authorities. (Wikipedia)

Quick Facts

Land use

Total land area
2,072,000 hectares
Area of forest
12.8% of land area
Area of agriculture
76.4% of land area
Area of permanent cropland
10.4% of land area


6.1 million
Population growth
0.3% annually
Rural population

Economics and development

GDP from agriculture
GDP per person
4219.40 USD

Climate change and biodiversity

CO2 emissions
1.00 metric tonnes per person
Threatened animal and plant species
Bonn Challenge Commitments
Goal year
Date committed
Area committed
1,000,000 hectares
Potential economic benefit
314 million USD
Potential climate benefit
0.09 GtCO2 sequestered
Main forest types
Tropical/subtropical moist broadleaf forest

In 2012, Herman Rosa Chavez, El Salvador’s Minister of the Environment and Natural Resources, announced his country’s commitment to restore one million hectares of degraded land as a contribution to the Bonn Challenge at the 18th Conference of the Parties (COP) to the UNFCCC meeting in Doha, Qatar.

“Our commitment to restoring one million hectares - half the country’s territory - is a serious and desperate response to a changing climate that earned El Salvador the first and fourth places in Germanwatch´s Global Climate Risk Index in 2009 and 2011, respectively," Chavez said in his announcement at the COP. "With adequate support, landscape restoration at this scale will also allow us to make an important contribution to climate change mitigation and biodiversity conservation, greatly enhancing our carbon sinks, improving livelihoods, ecosystem services and disaster resilience. Landscape restoration may be seen as a mitigation strategy," he said, "but for El Salvador it is an urgent and essential element for adaptation and reducing escalating climate related losses and damages.”

National Restoration Targets
Total restoration target
1,000,000 hectares
Readiness Preparation Proposal (R-PP) – FCPF
Readiness Preparation Proposal: El Slavador (in Spanish) (2013)
  • REDD+ Strategy Options (p. 4)
    • Goal: increase carbon stocks
    • Activity: restore ecosystems and landscapes
  • PREP-REDD+ (p. 94)
    • Restoration of degraded forests and other supporting ecosystems
    • Restoration of gallery forests and revegetation of watershed landscapes
    • Expand agroforestry
  • National Environmental Policy (2012) (p. 29)
    • National Program of Restoration of Ecosystem and Landscapes Program (PREP)
    • Focus on increasing Forest Carbon Reserves
REDD+ Strategy
Restoration target
1,000,000 hectares
El Salvador Formal R-PP Presentation (2012)
  • REDD+ Strategy: Mitigation based Adaptation 
    • Mitigation: maintain and increase carbon stocks
    • Goal: 1,000,000 ha (p. 7)
National Forest and/or Climate Strategy and/or Low Carbon Development Strategy
Estrategia Nacional de Cambio Climático (in Spanish) (2010)
  • Restoration of critical ecosystems and rural landscapes
Programa Nacional de Restauración de Ecosistemas y Paisajes (PREP) (in Spanish) (2013)
  • Goals (p. 14)
    • Rehabilitation ecosystem processes to recover resilience and services
    • Increasing carbon stocks and contribute to reductions through ecological and functional restoration of mosaic agricultural landscapes
    • Restoration of coastal systems, mangroves (protection role and breeding area for marine species)
    • Enable governance and management capacity of local participation in watershed landscapes
  • Components
    • Shift to sustainable agriculture at landscape level
    • Restoration of critical ecosystems: mangroves, gallery forests, wetlands
    • Use of green infrastructure in tandem with grey
FLR Assessments

The restoration process in El Salvador is based on the National Ecosystem Restoration Program and Landscapes (known in Spanish as PREP). The main objective of PREP is to promote and facilitate the restoration of ecosystems, watersheds and rural landscapes. This, in turn, ensures a steady flow of ecosystem services and help protect biodiversity - both of which are critical to adapting to climate change. 

Take a look at their opportunity map:

El Salvador opportunity map


Their opportunity area is 1,253,077 ha.

The map below shows actual land uses and the transitions:

  • Basic grain to Agroforestry System (A)
  • Pastures to Silvopastoril System (B and C)
  • Sugar cane to green harvest cane (D)
  • Mosaic culture, pasture and vegetation, and coffee below 900 m to Cacao (E and F)
  • Renewing coffee plantations (G and H)
  • Both sides of the riverbanks to 25 m to riparian forest (I)
  • Mangrove renewal (J)


El Salvador land transition map


The graph below shows you the initial results of the economic analyses that were conducted:

Incomes from actual land use: red
Incomes from transitions use: green

El Salvador economic analyses

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