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20 November 2009

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USA

U.S. pledges $275M to rainforest conservation

The U.S. pledged $275 million to a efforts to reduce deforestation in developing countries, reports Reuters.

The commitment was announced by U.S. Ambassador Louis Susman during an event hosted by Prince Charles. The pledge was made in a letter from Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy, chair of the US Senate Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs, to Prince Charles.

The letter stated the funds are "to protect biodiversity and support sustainable landscapes in fiscal year 2010 ... with a focus on protection of tropical forests."

According the Reuters, the money would come from the $1.2 billion international assistance fund, although it wasn't immediately clear how the funds would be dispersed. One possibility is the U.N. REDD Program, a proposed mechanism to compensate developing countries for reducing emissions from deforestation and degradation.

The U.S. has lagged behind other rich-world nations in funding tropical forest conservation in recent years, especially Norway, which has committed more than a billion dollars to forest conservation efforts in Brazil, Guyana, Tanzania, and Congo Basin countries. The Tropical Forest Conservation Act (TFCA), the main mechanism by which the U.S. has funded tropical forest conservation, languished under the Bush Administration, which reduced funding while adding a coral reef conservation mandate, further diluting funds available for tropical forests. The most recent TFCA, passed in May 2009 by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, will provide up to $115 million in debt relief to tropical countries in exchange for commitments to conserve forests and coral reefs.

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