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Debt Swap and Forest Conservation REPORTER: In this edition of One Planet on the BBC World Service, I'll be looking at the role debt swaps can play in trying to help conserve some of the world's most valuable forests. CLAUDIA MCMURRAY: The effort was to take forgiven debt and put it towards forest conservation in the simplest terms and we've been able to conclude thirteen deals with twelve countries that will amount to, over the next several years, well over a hundred and sixty million dollars in forest conservation. REPORTER: Claudia McMurray is the U.S assistant secretary of state for oceans, environment and science. She says the American government's decision to write off twenty six million dollars in debt owed by Costa Rica will be the biggest debt for nature swap the U.S has implemented so far. It was made possible by an act of congress passed nine years ago, the Tropical Forest Conservation Act. CLAUDIA MCMURRAY: It was a way for us to have a priority of ours addressed, which is forest conservation and to do it in such a way that it also brought benefits to the country with the debt. They got their debt forgiven and they also got the benefit, the extra benefit now we're finding, of saving their forest which is something that was important to these countries, but maybe they just couldn't get it done with the existing funding they have. So this was an extra incentive for them to do that. REPORTER: But why exactly are you tying in the debt relief to forest conservation? CLAUDIA MCMURRAY: Well, countries that we were focused on, and I'll say generally they were in central and South America where there was very, very precious rain forests, but also we've started to do some work in Africa and in parts of Asia like the Philippines and Bangladesh. Those are countries that obviously have a lot of challenges. They have poverty, they have human challenges that they need to address and so maybe the forest conservation part of their work wasn't the highest priority, just because of everything else they had to address. But we were able to come in and say "You've got this debt on the books, provided we could all agree, we would like to forgive that debt and put it towards something that we know is important to you and is also important to us and that's to save the rain forest or the forest in a particular country". REPORTER: That makes it sound like very altruistic legislation but very simply, what's in this for the United States? CLAUDIA MCMURRAY: Sustainable development, you know, obviously all countries need sources of timber in a sustainable way but also there are environmental benefits to forest conservation. As I said this was something we've been doing for quite a while and it's only recently that we've actually determined there are additional quantifiable environmental benefits by saving the forest in the climate change area. It actually absorbs green house gases so it's an important tool in the tool box for fighting climate change. 来自:VOA英语网 文章地址: http://www.tingvoa.com/html/20090823/5576.html