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Sustainable Logging In Indonesia And Pres. Clinton

Sustainable Logging In Indonesia And The White House

Indonesia is the world's leading exporter of rainforest timber according to a White House paper supporting President Clinton's $150 million overseas conservation-aid proposal to Congress. John Howard reports.

In his fiscal 2001 budget, to be presented to Congress this week, Clinton will earmark $150 million in funds - a $70 million increase - to "help developing nations strengthen their economies by sustainably managing their forests rather than destroying them," the White House said

"Leading causes of forest destruction include illegal logging, subsidies that promote overlogging and deliberate burning to clear land for agriculture," it said.

"At present rates, most remaining tropical rainforests could be lost over the coming century, limiting options for sustainable growth."

There is also concern that in some countries, particularly Vietnam, the military has taken control of tropical rainforests, along with the illegal drug and labour markets.

Western countries are also importing products made from illegally logged or subsidised rainforest timber.

If the money is allocated by Congress, a large portion of it, $100 million, would be earmarked for rainforest conservation programs through the US Agency for International Development. (USAID)

The funding would help over 60 developing countries across Latin America, Africa and Asia address the causes of deforestation and to promote sustainable development.

An additional $37 million, about three times the current funding, would be used in debt-for-nature swaps to save threatened forests while relieving country debt.

Under the Tropical Forest Conservation Act, the US can grant reduction of debt owed by developing countries when they commit to invest local currency in conservation of tropical forests and promote economic reform.

The countries being targeted as part of the additional $37 million debt swap include Bangladesh, Peru and the Philippines.

Last year, Congress approved $80 million for overseas conservation and sustainable development efforts.

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