frames appear inappropriate, given the severity of the problems, the time required before returns on investments may be realized, and the need to test new and sometimes risky technologies. Twenty-year projects or programs may be necessary, requiring that governments and lending agencies rethink existing policies and approaches.
USAID is now designing 10-year projects—a significant breakthrough. An example is a new natural resources project in Panama, which has four components: watershed management, natural forest management, private industrial plantations, and farm woodlots. The project rationale is based on the need to protect the economic values of existing agriculture and commercial investments, including the Panama Canal, to maintain electricity and a water supply to major urban areas, to reduce dependence on wood imports, and to enhance employment.
Because a principal rationale for conserving biological diversity is the need to conserve wild germplasm for improving agriculture, it is appropriate that development assistance also help in land acquisitions. For example, in the past decade or so, Costa Rica has undertaken an aggressive and comprehensive conservation area program. Last year, the Government of Costa Rica requested and received permission from the USAID Mission to use U.S.-controlled local currency generated by the sale of U.S. commodities (P.L. 480 Program) for the establishment of a new conservation area (the Zona Protectora) and the enhanced management of an existing area (Cano Negro). Also, USAID has and will continue to support the National Research Council in the National Academy of Sciences in its exploration of little-known or underutilized tropical plant and animal resources. Numerous publications have been produced on topics ranging from multipurpose tree species to butterfly and crocodile farming.
USAID is assisting conservation efforts in a variety of other ways as well. These range from supporting U.S. Peace Corps Volunteer wildlife biologists who are conducting endangered species surveys in Burundi to the development of a management plan for Tarutao National Park in Thailand and the provision of technical assistance to and training of personnel of various host countries in parks and wildlife management.
These types of assistance will continue and are likely to increase as more nations realize the importance of conserving the diversity of their living resources and seek our assistance in their own efforts.
We are witnessing a convergence of interests that could be a powerful force in the coming years—a growing consensus between the conservation community and the development institutions that maintenance of biological diversity and sound economic development are not only compatible but mutually interdependent. In the long run, economic growth is heavily dependent on the conservation of these resources. In turn, the conservation of these resources is not likely to take place, especially in the tropics, without quantum leaps in economic development. This means that we must work more closely together to promote both our goals. The support of U.S. environmental groups for foreign development assistance last fall