Office of the Spokesman
October 5, 2006
Debt for Nature Agreements to Conserve Botswana’s Forests
Released on October 5, 2006
The Governments of the United States of America and the Republic of Botswana today signed agreements to reduce Botswana’s debt payments to the United States by over $8.3 million. These funds will be used to support grants that will conserve and restore important tropical forests throughout the country, including such world famous areas as the Okavango Delta and Chobe National Park region. The agreements, which were made possible through a contribution of nearly $7 million by the U.S. Government, were signed in Gaborone by U.S. Ambassador to Botswana Katherine Canavan and Botswana Minister of Finance and Development Planning Baledzi Gaolathe. These are the first Tropical Forest Conservation Act (TFCA) agreements concluded in Africa.
The forests covered by the agreements with Botswana include closed canopy tree cover, riverine forests and dry acacia forests. They are home to the fishing owl, leopard, elephant, hippopotamus and many other wildlife species. People living in and around these forests depend upon them for their livelihood and survival, and these agreements will help ensure the sustainability of the forests for future generations.
The Tropical Forest Conservation Act provides opportunities for eligible developing countries to reduce concessional debts owed the United States while generating funds to conserve their forests. The agreement with Botswana marks the 11th debt-for-nature pact concluded under the Bush Administration, following agreements with Belize, Colombia, El Salvador, Guatemala, Jamaica, Panama (two agreements), Paraguay, Peru and the Philippines. These agreements, together with another TFCA agreement concluded with Bangladesh in 2000, will generate over $135 million in the coming years to protect tropical forests in developing countries.