US proposes increased funding to protect world’s forests and biodiversity
The US Government wants to boost its spending on efforts to slow down the loss of forests around the world with an 88% increase over funding levels for 2000.
The global forest protection initiative, ‘Greening the Globe’, would cost the US $150 million, up from $80 million dollars this year. The initiative aims to help developing countries preserve irreplaceable forests.
If approved by the US Congress, Greening the Globe would provide training and technical assistance to developing countries; support the exchange of debt for forest preservation schemes; protect endangered tropical species; and build the first complete set of satellite imagery tracking forest loss worldwide (see related story).
Only half the tropical forests that stood in 1800 survive today. Tropical forests continue to disappear at a rate of more than 20ha a minute as a result of illegal logging, government logging subsidies and deliberate burning to clear land for agriculture. At present rates, most remaining tropical forests could be lost over the coming century.
The bulk of the Greening the Globe’s money will be spent on tropical forest and biodiversity conservation programmes through the US Agency for International Development (USAID). $100 million is proposed during 2001 (up from $62 million in FY 2000) to help developing countries across Latin America, Africa and Asia address the causes of deforestation and increase forest conservation and park protection activities.
- improvement in the management of the Indonesia’s dwindling tropical forests, which are home to over 10 percent of the world’s primate species and among of the most biologically diverse in the world. This initiative will enable USAID to expand its support of local forest management efforts, and will promote forest-friendly policies and agricultural practices. Indonesia is the world’s leading exporter of tropical timber. Its forests face significant threats from logging, the conversion of natural forests to palm oil plantations and slash-and-burn agriculture
- the expansion of efforts to conserve national parks like Bolivia’s Madidi National Park in the Amazon. The Madidi National Park is considered to be the world’s most biologically diverse national park, with 1,200 species of birds, nearly twice the total bird species breeding in the continental US. The initiative will allow USAID to work with conservation organisations, local park managers, and communities in many of these parks to address deforestation
- the enhancement of USAID partnerships with conservation organisations and governments to help African countries strengthen their national protected areas and promote conservation-based economic development
- the funding of debt relief schemes designed to save forests. The US has increased funding for debt relief schemes under the Tropical Forest Conservation Act (TFCA) to $37 million. The US would grant reduction of debt owed by developing countries when they commit to invest local currency in conservation of tropical forests and promote economic reform. Interest payments on remaining debt will be channelled into local currency funds supporting tropical forest conservation programmes. Priority countries include Bangladesh, Peru, and the Philippines.
- protection of endangered species: $3 million for US Fish and Wildlife Service International Biodiversity Conservation programmes to help conserve wildlife and protect global biodiversity
- a programme led by NASA and USAID to use satellite imagery to compile the comprehensive maps of the world’s tropical forests
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