The U.S. federal government has agreed to a debt-for-nature swap with Costa Rica that will see $26 million of the Central American country’s debt owed to the U.S. go instead toward conservation of its rainforests. The Nature Conservancy and Conservation International each donated about $1.2 million to the effort while the U.S. is financing $12.6 million of it. Those funds, as well as the interest they generate, should be enough to eliminate $26 million in debt over 16 years. The State Department bills the program as a win-win for debtor countries. “They get some or all of their debt wiped out, and they get help in preserving an important natural resource,” said Claudia McMurray, an assistant secretary of state. To be eligible for the program, countries must play nice with the United States, cooperating on drug enforcement and so-called “counterterrorism” policies as well as other requirements.

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