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$24 million debt-for-nature swap in Guatemala

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$24 million debt-for-nature swap in Guatemala
October 5, 2006

Tropical forest conservation efforts in Guatemala will receive $24 million under a debt-for-nature swap arranged by Conservation International (CI), The Nature Conservancy, and the governments of the United States and Guatemala.

“Under debt-for-nature swaps, a country’s foreign debt is forgiven in exchange for its government’s commitment to directly support conservation work,” explained CI. “According to the agreement signed Sept. 8, Guatemala will invest approximately $24.4 million in local currency over the next 15 years for conservation work in four designated areas.”

The U.S. will provided $15 million under the Forest Conservation Act (TFCA), toward the cancellation of some of Guatemala’s debt, while CI and The Nature Conservancy each contributed an additional $1 million, according to CI. The agreement marks the debt-for-nature swap ever under the TFCA.

Central American rainforest.

“This is how modern conservation works, with partnerships involving all stakeholders to protect crucial ecosystems that sustain life on Earth,” said Peter Seligmann, the chairman and CEO of CI. “We are proud to help the Guatemalan people conserve tropical forests essential to their well-being and the overall health of the planet.”

“The areas protected in this agreement lie in the heart of Mayan civilization, and they are home to jaguars, scarlet macaws, harpy eagles, and countless other species,” said Steve McCormick, president and CEO of The Nature Conservancy. “Working collaboratively with public, private, and nonprofit partners, we have been able to protect some of the most threatened natural areas on earth, to the enormous benefit of communities that depend on them for survival.”

According to CI, funds from the deal will focus on four areas:

The Tropical Forest Conservation Act (TFCA) was enacted in 1998 to offer eligible developing countries forego paying back debt owed to the U.S. in exchange for supporting local tropical forest conservation activities. To date, 11 TFCA worth $125 million have been signed.

This article used information from a Conservation International press release.

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