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U.S. and Indonesian Governments Work Together to Protect one of World’s Most Important Forests


The United States and Indonesian governments signed an agreement September 29, 2011 that will result in $28.5 million in funding to protect a large block of forest land in the Indonesian region known as the Heart of Borneo.

WWF and The Nature Conservancy worked with the two governments to develop this innovative conservation financing approach.

The forest land is rich in wildlife and an important source for securing carbon. It is also a place that many local communities rely on for their livelihoods because it provides them with jobs and firewood to heat their homes.

How does this work?
Through the agreement, carried out under the Tropical Forest Conservation Act, Indonesia’s debt to the U.S. of $28.5 million is “swapped” for investment over the next five to seven years in three Heart of Borneo forest districts.

The U.S. government is responsible for reducing Indonesia’s debt obligations by $20 million. WWF and The Nature Conservancy each provided $2 million. Because of the timing of the debt payments, the actual amount available for forest protection in Indonesia is $28.5 million.

Funding from this swap will help protect two WWF priority areas:

  • Kutai Barat District, where work will focus on protecting remaining natural forest, by converting degraded land into palm oil plantations
  • Kapuas Hulu, an area between Danau Sentarum and Betung Kerihun national parks that, if connected, would provide a place for orangutans and other wildlife to roam freely and for forest carbon to be stored

Why is this debt-swap important?
The debt-swap will provide many benefits to the region including:

  • funds invested in critical biodiversity conservation projects, such as protected areas and habitat corridors
  • strengthened role of communities in natural resource management through new projects and community managed areas
  • improved governance of natural resources through sustainable forestry practices and certification
  • enhancement of the land use planning process to minimize the impacts from unsustainable agriculture

Learn more
WWF’s work in the regionThreats to Borneo and Sumatra