Costa Rica gets $26M debt-for-nature swap
mongabay.com
October 18, 2007




Under an agreement signed Wednesday by the governments of the United States and Costa Rica together with environmental groups, $26 million of Costa Rican debt will be forgiven in exchange for tropical forest conservation. The debt-for-nature swap comes under the Tropical Forest Conservation Act of 1998, legislation intended to allow eligible developing countries to forego paying back debt owed to the U.S. in exchange for supporting local tropical forest conservation activities.

The U.S. will spend $12.6 million to buy back Costa Rica's debt at discounted rates while Conservation International and The Nature Conservancy will each contribute $1.26 million.

"Costa Rica is teeming with natural beauty, biodiversity and threatened species, from jaguars to squirrel monkeys to scarlet macaws. And as an increasingly popular tourist and retirement destination, it faces increasing development pressure," said Stephanie Meeks, acting president and CEO of The Nature Conservancy. "We're glad to have this opportunity to continue working with local people and government and nonprofit partners to protect this magnificent place for generations to come."


"The Costa Rican tropical forests are home to a rich variety of life and provide the natural resources depended on by people living in and around them," added Peter Seligmann, the chairman and CEO of Conservation International. They also are important for slowing global warming because they store atmospheric carbon, one of the greenhouse gases causing climate change."

Worldwide, deforestation and degradation of forest lands contributes roughly 20 percent of greenhouse gas emissions -- more than the global transportation sector.

The agreement will target forest protection in some of Costa Rica's best known biodiversity hotspots: the Osa Peninsula, Totuguero, La Amistad, Maquenque, the Zona Norte del Rincon de la Vieja, and the Nicoya Peninsula. It is the first debt-for-nature swamp in Costa Rica under the Tropical Forest Conservation Act. Belize, Botswana, Colombia, El Salvador, Guatemala, Jamaica, Panama, Paraguay, Peru and the Philippines have had debt forgiven under the program.

Since 1998 the Tropical Forest Conservation Act has provided $163 million to 11 countries. Nevertheless some environmentalists have criticized the current administration for its lack of support for the program.





CITATION:
mongabay.com (October 18, 2007).

Costa Rica gets $26M debt-for-nature swap.

http://news.mongabay.com/2007/1017-costa_rica.html