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The Nature Conservancy supports reauthorization of Tropical Forest Conservation Act

The Nature Conservancy congratulates U.S. Sen. Rob Portman and bipartisan co-sponsors for their leadership in support of a bill that would renew and expand a program that over nearly two decades has protected 67 million acres of tropical forest. 

Portman (R-OH) introduced the Tropical Forest Conservation Reauthorization Act (TFCA) on May 3, along with Senators Tom Udall (D-NM), Richard Burr (R-NC), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), and Brian Schatz (D-HI). 

This legislation reauthorizes a program that allows developing countries that meet certain criteria to be relieved of debt owed to the United States in exchange for their conservation efforts. In addition, this legislation expands these “debt-for-nature swaps” to cover non-tropical forests and coral reefs. 

“The Tropical Forest Conservation Act has been a tremendous force for good, protecting millions of acres in 14 countries,” said Lynn Scarlett, managing director of public policy for The Nature Conservancy. “Through principal and interest paid by the recipient countries and an additional $22.5 million leveraged from donations by the Conservancy and allied groups, TFCA programs are estimated to generate more than $339 million for tropical forest conservation. We thank Senator Portman for his authorship and years of support.” 

The bill was introduced during the height of the spring neo-tropical warbler migration, a reminder that thousands of migratory birds that winter in habitats protected by the Tropical Forest Conservation Act return to North America in the spring, Scarlett added. “Along the Lake Erie coast, for example, bird watching contributes more than $26 million annually to our economy, especially during the Biggest Week in American Birding (May 4-14), which attracts over 80,000 U.S. and international visitors each year.”

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.