United States Senate Committee on Foreign Relations
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 5, 2009
Contact: Frederick Jones, Kerry, 202-224-4651
Andy Fisher, Lugar, 202-224-2079
Kerry, Lugar Tropical Forest Bill Clears Senate Foreign Relations Committee
The Senate Foreign Relations Committee today unanimously passed S. 345, the Tropical Forest and Coral Conservation Reauthorization Act of 2009 introduced by Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry (D-MA) and Ranking Member Senator Dick Lugar (R-IN). The bill would further the cause of tropical rain forest conservation and broaden the initiative to protect coral reefs.
Kerry and Lugar introduced legislation in the Senate to reauthorize the Tropical Rain Forest conservation Act of 1998 (TFCA) for an additional three years.
“Deforestation is a significant driver of global climate change, and we must pursue a variety of efforts to reduce emissions from deforestation in tropical and sub-tropical nations. This innovative program has provided critical support to developing countries in conserving their forest landscapes while reducing their debt burdens, and I am thrilled to join Senator Lugar in introducing this important legislation,” said Chairman Kerry.
“This bill reauthorizes a proven program which enjoys the ardent support of the Treasury Department and State Department for the third time since 1998. It will help developing countries protect tropical forests and endangered marine habitats around the world while reducing their foreign debt levels. This bill will also serve as an important diplomatic tool to provide for our national security,” said Senator Lugar.
With TFCA, the U.S. State Department has reached agreements generating $188 million in long-term commitments for tropical forest conservation. In addition, private donors, including the Nature Conservancy, the World Wildlife Fund, the Wildlife Conservation Society, and Conservation International, have contributed more than $12 million to TFCA swaps, leveraging U.S. Government funds.
Fourteen TFCA agreements have been concluded to date in Bangladesh, El Salvador, Belize, Peru, the Philippines, Panama, Guatemala, Colombia, Paraguay, Botswana, Costa Rica, and Jamaica. With the reauthorization of TFCA, the U.S. Government will be able pursue agreements to conserve threatened coral reefs along with tropical forests.
The Tropical Forest and Coral Reef Conservation Act of 2009 authorizes appropriations for debt reduction for eligible countries at $25,000,000 in FY 2009; $30,000,000 in FY 2010; $30,000,000 in FY 2011; and $30,000,000 in FY 2012.