When fighting to save Earth's vanishing biodiversity, sometimes it's more prudent to forgive and move forward. An unprecedented agreement forgiving millions of dollars of Peruvian debt in return for investments in conservation does just that.
In June 2002, CI, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and The Nature Conservancy (TNC) joined forces with the United States and Peru to support a debt-for-nature swap that will help protect more than 27.5 million acres of Peruvian rainforest--an area the size of Virginia. A debt-for-nature swap reduces a government's foreign debt burden in exchange for its commitment to spend a certain amount of its national currency on conservation work.
Under the agreement, CI, WWF and TNC each committed approximately $370,000 and the U.S. government allocated $5.5 million to cancel a portion of Peru's debt to the United States.
As a result, Peru will save about $14 million in debt payments over the next 16 years. In return, Peru will provide its national currency equivalent of approximately $10.6 million toward conservation efforts in 10 tropical forests
over the next 12 years. This money will support such activities as the establishment of parks and reserves, scientific and managerial training programs and the restoration of diverse animal and plant species
Located in the Tropical Andes hotspot
, Peru's forests are among the most biologically diverse on Earth and home to rare species such as pink dolphins, scarlet macaws and walking palms. They shelter roughly 20,000 species of vascular plants and provide habitat for nearly 1,800 bird species. These lush rainforests are under threat from logging
, conversion of forest land to agriculture
, mining and oil and gas exploration.