Posted on February 13, 2004
WASHINGTON &151; President Bush today signed into law the Congo Basin Forest Partnership (CBFP) Act, which authorizes U.S. participation in a partnership to help preserve the central African rainforest. "The Congo Basin is home to the second largest contiguous tropical forest in the world only the Amazon is larger," Alexander said. "It extends over 700,000 square miles into six African countries and contains the most diverse grouping of plants and animals in Africa." The CBFP aims to protect 11 key landscapes encompassing more than 30 national parks and thousands of square miles across six countries in central Africa. The bill was shepherded through the Senate by Alexander where it passed by unanimous consent last December. The Senate version passed the House Feb. 3, and was signed by the president today. "Secretary Powell led the charge on this effort, announcing U.S. participation more than a year ago. Now this partnership is authorized by law," Alexander continued. "I hope it will not only help preserve this ecological treasure in the heart of Africa, but also help African countries develop institutions they need to grow and prosper. "A National Park that preserves a major habitat is more than a way to protect wildlife. It becomes a focal point for economic development." Under the partnership, the U.S. joins the European Union and other donor governments in partnering with African governments and non-governmental organizations to conserve the 11 landscapes. The partnership's mission is to promote economic development, alleviate poverty, and improve local governance, through natural resource conservation programs. As chairman of the African Affairs Subcommittee, Alexander held a hearing on the CBFP last July.