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Media Note
Office of the Spokesman
Washington, DC
October 17, 2007


Debt for Nature Agreement to Conserve Costa Rica's Forests

The Governments of the United States of America and Costa Rica, the Central Bank of Costa Rica, Conservation International and The Nature Conservancy, concluded agreements reducing Costa Rica’s debt payments to the United States by $26 million over the next 16 years. In return, the Central Bank of Costa Rica committed to pay these funds to support grants to non-governmental organizations and other groups protecting and restoring the country’s tropical forest resources.

This debt for nature program was made possible through contributions of more than $12.6 million by the U.S. Government under the Tropical Forest Conservation Act of 1998 and a combined donation of more than $2.5 million from Conservation International and The Nature Conservancy.

The funds will help conserve several important forest areas in Costa Rica, including the Osa Peninsula, home to the scarlet macaw and many other bird species, as well as to the squirrel monkey and jaguar. The La Amistad region contains the most extensive tract of untouched forest in the country and is the source of much of Costa Rica’s fresh water. The Maquenque Wildlife Refuge area is home to the great green macaw, while the Tortuguero region contains a rich variety of forest ecosystems. The area north of Rincon de la Vieja contains dry forest, cloud forest, and rain forest. Nicoya Peninsula’s dry forests and mangroves are important to the preservation of water resources in the region.

The Tropical Forest Conservation Act provides opportunities for eligible developing countries to reduce concessional debt owed the United States while generating funds to conserve their forests. The program with Costa Rica, the largest of the funds established to date, marks the 12th established under the Bush Administration, following agreements with Belize, Botswana, Colombia, El Salvador, Guatemala, Jamaica, Panama (2), Paraguay, Peru and the Philippines. These programs, together with one established with Bangladesh in 2000, will generate more than $163 million over 10-25 years to protect tropical forests.

2007/891


Released on October 17, 2007

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