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 You are in: Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs > Bureau of Public Affairs > Bureau of Public Affairs: Press Relations Office > Press Releases (Other) > 2004 > August
Media Note
Office of the Spokesman
Washington, DC
August 19, 2004


Debt For Nature Agreement to Conserve Panama's Forests

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On August 19, 2004, the Governments of the United States of America and the Republic of Panama, together with The Nature Conservancy, signed a second round of agreements, reducing Panama’s debt to the United States and generating nearly $11 million for tropical forest conservation over the next 12 years. These funds will be used to conserve the biologically rich forest resources of the Darien National Park, bringing to $21 million the total funds made available to Panama for conservation purposes under the Tropical Forest Conservation Act.

Today's agreements were signed by United States Ambassador to Panama Linda Watt, Panamanian Finance and Economy Minister Norberto Delgado, and The Nature Conservancy Panama Program Director George Hanily. The agreements were made possible through a grant of $6.5 million from the United States government and a contribution of $1.3 million from The Nature Conservancy. The first debt-for-nature swap with Panama, signed in 2003, will generate $10 million over 14 years to conserve Chagres National Park in the Panama Canal watershed.

The forests of Darien National Park contain a unique biological land bridge where North and South America meet. Covering nearly 1.4 million acres (579,000 hectares), the park is an exceptionally rich area of the American tropics, sheltering a diverse range of flora and fauna and forming an essential part of bird migration routes. The park contains such rare species as the jaguar, harpy eagle, wild dog and tapir. High annual rainfall provides a flow of sediments to the Gulf of San Miguel, which nourishes the productive mangrove coastal forests of Punta Patino.

The agreements signed today will help protect these valuable resources by funding grants to primarily nongovernmental organizations and creating a permanent endowment to provide sustainable funding for park management.

The Tropical Forest Conservation Act of 1998 was first funded in 2000 to provide eligible developing countries opportunities to reduce concessional debts owed the United States while generating funds to conserve their forests. Panama is one of seven countries to benefit from the Act so far and the first country to benefit a second time. Other countries are Bangladesh, Belize, Colombia, El Salvador, the Philippines and Peru.

For further information contact Susan Povenmire, Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs, at (202) 647-3486 or povenmiresl@state.gov.

2004/915

Released on August 19, 2004

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