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Saving Tropical Forests

Saving Tropical Forests
Saving Tropical Forests

Ten years after its enactment by the U.S. Congress, the Tropical Forest Conservation Act, or TFCA, is helping to protect the global environment while promoting the economies of the developing world. Twelve countries are partners with the United States under the act, which aims to conserve the world’s tropical forests by redirecting some of the official debt owed to the U.S. by the nations that have tropical forests.

The U.S. has signed TFCA agreements with Panama, Bangladesh, Botswana, Belize, Colombia, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Jamaica, Paraguay, Peru, and the Philippines. The so-called "debt for nature swap" also strengthens civil society by providing small grants to nongovernmental organizations and local communities.

Clay Lowery, Treasury Department Assistant Secretary for International Affairs, says the TFCA is "unique in a couple of ways. It provides predictable funding for forest conservation," and "also provides for a strong private/public partnership in managing TFCA programs."

Claudia McMurray, U.S. State Department Assistant Secretary for Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs, told an audience in Cape Town, South Africa, in April, that the programs established by Tropical Forest Conservation Act agreements will generate one-hundred-sixty-three million dollars over the next ten to twenty-five years to protect twenty-million hectares of biologically rich tropical forests.

James Hester, Agency Environmental Coordinator at the U.S. Agency for International Development, is the vice chair of the U.S. government and private-sector group that oversees implementation of the Tropical Forest Conservation Act. He says the act is plays a key role in reversing tropical deforestation, which helps for local people achieve long-term economic development, mitigate natural disasters, and achieve social stability.