November 19, 2020

Udall Applauds House Passage of Bipartisan Conservation Legislation to Protect Tropical Forests & Coral Reef Ecosystems

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Tom Udall (D-N.M.) and Senator Rob Portman (R-Ohio), Richard Burr (R-N.C.) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), applauded the U.S. House of Representatives for passing their bipartisan Tropical Forest and Coral Reef Conservation Reauthorization Act of 2020U.S. Representatives Brad Sherman (D-Calif.) and Steve Chabot (R-Ohio) led the companion legislation in the House.

The bipartisan legislation reauthorizes the debt-for-nature-swap program that encourages developing countries to conserve critical ecosystems like tropical forests and coral reefs in exchange for relief on debt owed to the United States. This legislation reauthorizes the successful international conservation program first created in 1998, through FY 2025 at $20 million per year.  

The program has helped protect more than 67 million acres of tropical forests and native wildlife since 1998. It has also helped fight climate change by sequestering over 50 million metric tons of carbon dioxide, which is the equivalent of taking more than 11 million cars off the road, and now that progress will continue. This previous reauthorization enacted in January 2019 updated the program to include protection of coral reefs along with tropical forests, as coral reefs are one of the ecosystems most under threat from global warming and the associated impact of ocean acidification.

“The House vote to pass our bipartisan bill is an important victory in the fight to protect our tropical forests and coral reefs that are critical to wildlife survival and human health and prosperity,” said Udall, co-chair of the International Conservation Caucus and a member of the Senate Appropriations and Foreign Relations Committees. “This bipartisan legislation strengthens global partnerships to preserve the tropical forests that help us fight climate change along with the beautiful coral reefs that are facing extreme threat of extinction. This bill is an crucial step in pushing the United States to lead a new, intensified focus on conservation to make sure our children inherit a livable and productive planet.” 

“This bipartisan legislation takes significant strides to protect our natural resources for the next generation while strengthening ties with countries that could become significant economic and national security partners with the United States,” said Portman, Co-Chair of the International Conservation Caucus. “This is a common-sense and proven approach that has protected millions of acres of tropical forest from deforestation – one of the leading causes of greenhouse gas emissions. I want to thank Congressman Chabot and Sherman for their leadership in the House and urge my Senate colleagues to pass this legislation to ensure that our natural resources are protected and preserved for the next generation.”