The United States has agreed to cut what Indonesia owes Uncle Sam by nearly $30 million over eight years in exchange for increased protection of Sumatran forests that are home to endangered rhinos, tigers and orangutans.
This debt-for-nature deal, orchestrated by Conservation International and the Indonesian Biodiversity Foundation, creates a trust to preserve 18.29 million acres, including Way Kambas National Park.
The agreement is the largest of 15 debt-for-nature swaps that have been approved since the U.S. Tropical Forest Conservation Act was passed in 1998, the Treasury Department said on Tuesday. All told, the agreements have forgiven more than $218 million in debt payments for commitments to protect forests in countries including Panama, Bangladesh and Botswana.
Rampant logging and clearing of forests for oil palm plantations landed Indonesia in the Guinness World Records two years ago for destroying 4.5 million acres, or about 2 percent, of its forests annually.
Jatna Supriatna, a vice president at Conservation International in Indonesia, said in a statement that, “The $30 million will help protect vital habitats and will also help deliver significant social benefits for the people of the island.”