October 6th, 2006 02:00 EST
United States, Botswana Sign Debt-for-Nature Agreements
The United States and Botswana signed a series of debt reduction agreements October 5 that will generate funds to help conserve and restore Botswana's tropical forests, including the ecologically fragileOkavango Delta and Chobe National Park regions.
The agreements -- comprising the first U.S. "debt-for-nature" pact to be concluded with an African country -- were made possible through a contribution of nearly $7 million from the U.S. government and will reduce Botswana's debt by more than $8.3 million.
The forests covered in the Botswana agreements 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. Populations 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.
Under the U.S. Tropical Forest Conservation Act (TFCA), eligible developing countries have the opportunity to reduce concessional debts owed the United States while generating funds to conserve domestic forests.
The agreement with Botswana marked the 12th debt-for-nature pact concluded under the Bush administration, following agreements with Bangladesh, 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 more than $135 million in the coming years to protect tropical forests in developing countries. (See related article.)
The October 5 agreements were signed in Gaborone, Botswana, by U.S. Ambassador Katherine Canavan and Botswana Minister of Finance and Development Planning Baledzi Gaolathe.
(Distributed by the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)