US Government

As an answer to many countries' debt problem and as a means of saving natural resources, especially tropical forests which affect global warming and weather patterns, the US government came up with a novel concept. The nature swap through the Tropical Forest Conservation Act of 1998 (TFCA) - to exchange the debt of forest-rich countries for conservation mechanisms designed to protect the forests.

The Act, according to a US Embassy press release will allow developing countries to shed their debt burden, while helping them to preserve natural forests. In consultation with the US government the debtor country can set up a fund or board consisting of local NGO representatives to preserve tropical forests. The value of debt will be converted to local currency and programs initiated by the board will be paid in local value.

According to them Sri Lanka's most pristine forests- the Sinharaja rainforest, Peak Wilderness, Namunukula forest and the Knuckles forest range are in danger under the debt recovery act and Sinharaja forest will be the main victim.

The United States and Japan have already taken 45 patent rights for medicinal plants in Sri Lanka. There may be hundreds of such indigenous properties in our tropical forests which will be the future of our financial stability. Under this, we fear that, it will pave the way for uncontrolled exploitation of these assets.

Meanwhile the Ministry of Forestry and Environment in Sri Lanka appointed a committee to look into the TFCA, counteracting the speculations of selling off the virgin forests to United States to offset national debt. There are remarkable similarities between the wording of the US Act and the intentions of the donor agencies as outlined in the ADB Report. At first glance it all seems ideally suited to countries such as Sri Lanka which have high international debts, and yet require funding to maintain its rich biodiversity. However, on close scrutiny, questions arise as to the intent motivating such apparent generosity. After all it is ironic that the United States is so concerned about the environmental well-being of the rest of the world that it refuses to sign the Kyoto Convention on controlling carbon dioxide emissions despite being the creator of the largest volume of these emissions!

So, do not allow capital countries to exploit poor countries' natural forests, full of genetic assets. We all should oppose it.

We, the undersigned, do not want capital countries to exploit poor countries' natural forests, full of genetic assets. We all should oppose it.

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The "Pay off your Debt. Sell us a Forest!" petition to US Government was written by Jim_Vandelburgh and is in the category Environment at GoPetition.