Costa Rica Trades Conservation for Debt

The U.S. government and environmental groups have agreed to let Costa Rica off the hook on US$26 million in debt, but the country will have to invest the same quantity for tropical forest conservation over the next 16 years, according to an agreement reached Wednesday.

The nifty deal fits into the U.S. Tropical Forest Conservation Act whereby the U.S. government can buy back debt in exchange for conservation projects at a discounted rate. In this case, the U.S. government will spend US$12.6 million, while Conservation International and The Nature Conservancy will each contribute US$1.26 million. Six other countries currently have TFCA agreements: Bangladesh, Belize, El Salvador, Panama, Peru, and the Philippines.

"Costa Rica is teeming with natural beauty, biodiversity and threatened species," said Stephanie Meeks, The Nature Conservancy's chief executive. "And as an increasingly popular tourist and retirement destination, it faces increasing development pressure." :: Via International Herald Tribune

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