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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 > October
Media Note
Office of the Spokesman
Washington, DC
October 8, 2004


Debt for Nature Agreement to Conserve Jamaica's Forests

The United States and Jamaica, together with The Nature Conservancy, recently concluded agreements to reduce Jamaicaís debt to the United States by nearly $16 million dollars. In return, Jamaica has committed to providing these resources over the next 20 years to fund projects to conserve and restore important tropical forest resources on the island nation of Jamaica.

U.S. Ambassador to Jamaica Sue Cobb, Jamaican Minister of Agriculture Roger Clarke, and The Nature Conservancy Country Director Terence Williams signed the agreements, which were made possible through a grant of $6.5 million from the United States and a contribution of $1.3 million from The Nature Conservancy.

Jamaica has unique flora and fauna composed of a high percentage of endemic species, including 28 percent of its flowering plants and 25 breeding bird species. A growing number of plant and animal species are identified as vulnerable to extinction, critically imperiled or rare. The aim of this debt-for-nature swap is to help Jamaica in its fight to safeguard the valuable forests and rich biodiversity in several areas. This includes areas such as the Blue and John Crow Mountain Forest Reserve/National Park, home of the islandís tallest peak, the endangered Giant Swallowtail Butterfly and a number of endemic orchids. It also includes the Portland Bight Protected Area, the only place on the island where the Jamaican Iguana, once thought to be extinct, is found in the wild.

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. Jamaica is one of eight countries to benefit from the Act so far; the other countries are Bangladesh, Belize, Colombia, El Salvador, Panama, the Philippines, and Peru. Together these agreements will generate over $95 million to protect tropical forests over the next 10-25 years.

2004/1087

Released on October 8, 2004

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