Congress Votes to Invest in International Conservation
Federal legislators passed two bills this week that will enhance America’s investments in conservation efforts abroad. Both pieces of legislation now head to the president’s desk.
“Congress’ actions this week underscore the importance of strengthening international conservation not only to benefit wildlife and communities abroad but also to boost America’s national security and economy,” said Tom Cors, who leads The Nature Conservancy’s policy work on federal investment in international conservation.
The Senate passed the Tropical Forest Conservation Reauthorization Act on Wednesday, and the House approved the bill today. The bill would reauthorize and expand a “debt-for-nature” program in which certain countries may redirect some of the debt they owe the U.S. government to local conservation funds instead. These agreements have saved more than 67 million acres of tropical forest in countries such as Botswana, Brazil, the Philippines and Indonesia. The expansion of the program would extend eligibility to coral reefs.
“The Tropical Forest Conservation Reauthorization Act will protect tropical forests that store carbon, leveraging a natural climate solution that will help countries around the world reduce harmful carbon emissions,” Cors said. “The legislation’s expansion to also protect coral reefs increases the number of countries eligible for the program, creating greater access to conservation funding for developing nations and benefiting additional ecosystems, communities and economies.”
The Senate also passed the Defending Economic Livelihoods and Threatened Animals (DELTA) Act late Wednesday. The DELTA Act will increase the U.S. government’s engagement with partners in Africa’s Okavango River basin to promote conservation and responsible economic growth.
“The DELTA Act will benefit the lives of both people and wildlife in the Okavango River basin,” Cors said. “By strengthening transboundary cooperation, it will improve water and natural resources management, protect animals and habitats and increase efforts to combat poaching and illegal wildlife trafficking. Advancing conservation in the basin will not only protect Africa’s iconic wildlife but will also help ensure the long-term health of local communities.”
The Nature Conservancy applauds Sens. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, Tom Udall, D-N.M., Richard Burr, R-N.C., Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., Chris Coons, D-Del., and Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, for being champions of international conservation.
The Nature Conservancy is a global conservation organization dedicated to conserving the lands and waters on which all life depends. Guided by science, we create innovative, on-the-ground solutions to our world's toughest challenges so that nature and people can thrive together. We are tackling climate change, conserving lands, waters and oceans at an unprecedented scale, providing food and water sustainably and helping make cities more sustainable. Working in 72 countries, we use a collaborative approach that engages local communities, governments, the private sector, and other partners. To learn more, visit www.nature.org or follow @nature_press on Twitter.