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WORLD WILDLIFE FUND COMMITS UP TO $2 MILLION TO PHILIPPINES FOR CONSERVATION First Dept-For-Nature Swap in Asia MANILA - World Wildlife Fund today (June 24) signed an agreement in Manila to purchase up to $2 million face amount of The Philippines' external debt in a series of debt-for-nature swaps--the first in Asia--that will benefit conservation in The Philippines. The dept-exchange will provide funds to implement a conservation strategy in The Philippines, with primary focus on management of protected areas, conservation training, and support of conservation groups. The strategy was developed by WWF, The Haribon Foundation and The Philippine Government. The first stage of this effort will benefit two national parks--St. Paul's National Park on Palawan Island and El Nido National Marine Park. In addition, proceeds will be devoted to the training of resource managers, the creation of a fellowship program for research in the areas of wildlife management and conservation sciences, and for other environmental conservation projects. Later stages of the program will benefit other critical conservation areas in The Philippines. The Philippines is composed of some 7,100 biologically rich and diverse islands. Its wide range of land and coastal ecosystems as well as important fresh water wetlands, are home to more than 8,000 species of plants, 557 species of birds, and 165 species of mammals--many of which are threatened with extinction including the tamaraw (a small wild buffalo), Philippine eagle, Philippine tarsier (a primate), and Philippine crocodile.


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