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Lacey Act



April 25, 2006


A Tropical Forest Group Investigation

Despite Bush administration hype, key initiative
to reduce carbon emissions & tropical deforestation suffers
18 months of neglect

In recent diplomatic and Earth Day media statements, US
agencies have touted the Tropical Forest Conservation Act (TFCA)
as a key pillar in the Administration’s climate change program.
But for 18 months, the TFCA has not been used to protect a single
new tropical forest.  TFG looks behind the hype.

April 25, 2006: Investigations by the Tropical Forest Group reveal
that a key component of the Bush Administration’s climate change
program has been stalled in neutral for a year and a half. John-O
Niles, TFG’s director, said “Over the past few weeks
the Bush Administration has touted success of the Tropical Forest
Conservation Act. But the Administration hasn’t signed a new
TFCA conservation agreement in 18 months. As the world warms and
species vanish, the Bush Administration should recognize its legacy
is going up in smoke.”

investigate 1 TFCA2


investigate 2 TFCA2

Tropical forests are some
of the most biologically diverse and carbon dense ecosystems on Earth.  Tropical
deforestation is the leading cause of species extinctions and pumps
almost 10 billion tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere each
year. The Tropical
Forest Conservation Act
(TFCA), enacted in 1998, allows certain
countries to forego paying back debt owed to the U.S. in exchange
for protecting tropical forests. Since 2000, its budget has ranged
from $11 to $20 million per year. The TFCA is one of the largest
pots of money worldwide to combat a swath of destruction exceeding
50,000 football fields every day.

In the past weeks, the Administration issued two official reports – one
to a UN body and another for Earth Day. The first, “Submission
of the United States: Views on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation
in Developing Countries: Approaches to Stimulate Action
was sent to the Secretariat of the United Nations Framework Convention
on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The UNFCCC was signed and ratified under
the first Bush presidency.  The official document says “the
United States has made a significant and sustained commitment to
helping tropical countries conserve and protect their forest resources
.” Increasing
TFCA financing is prominently featured in a section on recommendations
and describing the TFCA takes up a third of the formal report. “The
US government should spend more time conserving threatened ecosystems,
endangered species and key global carbon stores and less time bragging,” remarks

The second statement was issued by the State Department on April
21, 2006, the day before Earth Day. Titled “Bush Administration
Launches New Global Conservation Initiatives
”, it claims “…the
Bush Administration, assisted by the Department’s Bureau of
Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs (OES),
has launched new global initiatives and partnerships, including those
highlighted here
.” The statement discusses several initiatives,
none of them particularly new or newsworthy. The statement claims “the
US is contributing or generating $150 million to conserve tropical
forests worldwide
” through the TFCA and the President’s
Initiative Against Illegal logging.

Hayley Nyeholt, TFG’s associate director says, “I don’t
see how the Administration can make these proclamations with a straight
face. They put $4 million into the President’s illegal logging
initiative. $20 million was allocated to the TFCA this year. We
encourage the US to fully fund the TFCA at $70 million annually and
then actually use the money for its purpose, saving tropical forests.”

Forest Conservation Act

of the United States: Views on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation
in Developing Countries: Approaches to Stimulate Action

Administration Launches New Global Conservation Initiatives