Deal with U.S. Enables Indonesian Government to Swap Debts to Protect Sumatran Rhinos Tigers and Orangutans

10/2/2014

​Facilitated and co-funded by Conservation International, the US$12.7M Agreement Benefits Endangered Species and Supports Critical Ecosystems in Sumatra​​

Washington, DC (October 2, 2014) – The U.S. government, Indonesian government, Conservation International and Indonesian NGO KEHATI have signed agreements to reduce debt payments owed by Indonesia to the United States. In return Indonesia will commit nearly US$12.7 million toward the conservation and protection of critically endangered species, and their associated habitats in Sumatra. This transaction is supported financially by and negotiated with the help of Conservation International. 

The debt- for-nature swap will benefit critical ecosystems in Sumatra through increasing conservation efforts and combating wildlife trafficking, with an emphasis on the survival of some of the world's most endangered species. These include the Sumatran rhino (Dicerorhinus sumatrensis), Sumatran tiger (Panthera tigris sumatrae) and orangutan (Pongo abelii).  

"Many protected areas, once created, lack sufficient funding to be effective," said Ketut Putra, vice president of Conservation International Indonesia.  "A debt-for-nature swap is among the innovative and effective economic tools we have to support critical conservation initiatives that sustain ecosystems, livelihoods and species."

The Sumatran rainforests are among the last remaining areas in the world rich in biodiversity and critical to long-term human well-being. These habitats provide vital services to the people of Sumatra, including water supply for human consumption and irrigation of agricultural land, mitigation of disasters such as floods, and regulation of climate at local and global scales.

Through the deal, the Government of Indonesia will pay the nearly US$12.7 million over seven years to a trust that will issue grants for the conservation efforts.

"Sumatran rhinos number no more than 100, and along with many other species living in these forests, like Sumatran tigers, are among the most critically endangered animals on Earth," said Susie Ellis, executive director, International Rhino Foundation. "This support will be pivotal in ensuring their survival."

The debt swap has been made possible by a contribution of approximately US$11.2 million from the U.S. government under the Tropical Forest Conservation Act, and approximately US$560,000 by Conservation International, in part through a donation from the Arcus Foundation. Conservation International's Global Conservation Fund also helped design and negotiate the transaction. Global law firm White & Case LLP provided legal support on a pro bono basis.

"The conservation of Sumatra's forests is as much a benefit for Indonesia's people and their livelihoods as it is for the country's wildlife and natural ecosystems," said Annette Lanjouw, vice president of strategic initiatives and Great Ape Program, Arcus Foundation. "Our foundation is investing in trying to balance the immediate and short-term needs of people today with the long-term needs of the environment and wildlife. This debt swap is an important partnership that can significantly improve the situation in Sumatra for all."

This swap follows a similar transaction in 2009, in which Indonesia committed nearly US$30 million for the increased protection of Sumatra's forests. The two swaps will provide funds for increased protection of 13 important areas of Sumatran rain forest that are home to hundreds of species, and threatened plants and animals.

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About Conservation International

Since 1987, Conservation International has been working to improve human well-being through the care of nature. With the guiding principle that nature doesn't need people, but people need nature—for food, water, health and livelihoods—CI works with more than 1,000 partners around the world to ensure a healthy, more prosperous planet that supports the well-being of people. Learn more about CI, and follow CI's work on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

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