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U.S., Brazil sign debt-for-nature deal

WASHINGTON, Aug 12 (Reuters) - The United States and Brazil signed an agreement on Thursday that will reduce debt payments to the United States in return for more protection for Brazil’s rich tropical forests.

Brazil’s debt payments will fall by about $21 million over five years and the South American nation will use those funds to support conservation, improve natural resource management and develop new livelihoods for people who depend on forestry.

The agreement was concluded under the Tropical Forest Conservation Act of 1998, a debt-for-nature pact that is aimed at encouraging preservation of global tropical forests. It is the 16th such agreement that the United States has concluded.

The deal with Brazil will help it protect the Atlantic Rainforest and two other major ecosystems that cover about 50 percent of the country’s territory and are home to unique species of birds, frogs and other animals and to Brazilian rosewood.

Reporting by Glenn Somerville; Editing by Paul Simao