Botswana signs conservation agreement

The Minister of Finance and Development Planning, Baledzi Gaolathe, and the United States Ambassador to Botswana, Katherine Canavan, represented the two governments at the signing of the TFCA and a debt reduction agreement.

Botswana’s debt payments would be reduced by US$7 million (42 million pula).

Canavan said the US government created the TFCA framework in 1998 after realisation of the extent and seriousness of rapid deforestation and forest degradation in many regions of the world.

“At the same time, we recognised that external debt creates economic constraints for many countries’ governments and those constraints can lead to neglect or over-exploitation of natural resources,” she said.

She added that the debt Botswana incurred through development loans could now be converted into a fund to support conservation and sustainable use of woodlands and riverine forests over the next 10 years. These include the dry acacia forest in the Okavango Delta and the Chobe National Park, which have unique wildlife and bird life species.

Botswana would commit the funds to strengthen civil society by disbursing small grants to non-governmental organisations and local communities who would, in turn, conserve and protect the resources.

Canavan said she hoped that the agreements would have an effect that goes beyond Botswana. “Environmental issues are trans-border issues. Regional co-operation in the management of the environment is essential if we are to sustain these resources not just for ourselves, but for our children and the generations to come,” she said. ‘ Mmegi.

October 2006
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