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Conserving Brazil's Forests

The Iguassu Falls in Brazil's Atlantic Rainforest. (file)
The Iguassu Falls in Brazil's Atlantic Rainforest. (file)

The Debt-for-Nature Agreement, signed by the United States and the Federative Republic of Brazil, strengthened the protection of Brazil's forests.

Brazil is one of the most biologically rich countries on earth. The tropical rainforests of Brazil are home to an enormous number of species of plants and animals, some of which are endangered. Protection of those forest ecosystems will be strengthened thanks to an agreement signed August 12th, by the United States and the Federative Republic of Brazil.

The Debt-for-Nature Agreement signed in Brasila reduces Brazil's debt payments to the United States by close to $21 million over the next 5 years. In return, the Government of Brazil has committed these funds to protect the country's tropical forests.

Funds generated by the Agreement will help Brazil protect the Atlantic Rainforest as well as the Caatinga and the Cerrado ecosystems. Together, these ecosystems cover approximately 50 percent of Brazil's territory and are home to some of the world's most unique wildlife, such as Black-faced Lion Tamarins, Brazilian Gold Frogs, Blue-Bellied Parrots, and the Brazilian rosewood. The Atlantic Rainforest contains more than 250 species of mammals, more than 750 species of reptiles and amphibians and nearly 1,000 species of birds.

Under the Agreement, grants will support activities to conserve protected areas, improve natural resource management, and develop sustainable livelihoods for communities that rely on forests.

The Agreement with Brazil was made possible by the innovative Tropical Forest Conservation Act of 1998. The Brazil Agreement marks the 16 initiative under the Tropical Forest Conservation Act. Previous agreements have been signed with Bangladesh, Belize, Botswana, Columbia, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Indonesia, Jamaica, Panama, which signed 2 agreements, Paraguay, Peru, which also signed 2 agreements, and the Philippines. Over time these debt for nature programs will together generate more than $239 million to protect tropical forests around the world.

"This accord," said U.S. Charge d' Affaires Lisa Kubiske, "is a concrete example of our commitment to environmental preservation with social, economic and environmental benefits for both our nations."