On Tuesday, the United States Foundation for International Conservation Act (USFICA) passed out of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

The bipartisan bill was introduced in the Senate last March by Senator Chris Coons (D-DE), Co-Chair of the International Conservation Caucus (ICC) and Chair of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on State and Foreign Operations (SFOPS), and Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Ranking Member of SFOPS. ICC co-chairs Senators John Boozman (R-AR), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), and Thom Tillis (R-NC) are original co-sponsors of the bill, along with Oceans Caucus co-chair Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI). A companion bill overwhelmingly passed out of the House Foreign Affairs Committee last month.

In a press release issued following the committee markup, Senator Coons said:

The U.S. Foundation for International Conservation would fund public-private partnerships to support local communities around the world in effectively managing protected and conserved areas. This bipartisan bill would increase the flow of private and philanthropic capital, in coordination with U.S. government investment, to conserve biodiversity, promote stability and security, and ensure the communities who live and work around protected areas drive their own future. On my recent congressional delegation to five countries in Africa and during my many trips to the developing world throughout my time in the Senate, I’ve seen the immensely positive impact that investing in conservation can have on local communities. I’d like to thank my Senate Foreign Relations Committee colleagues for joining me in a strong, bipartisan fashion to advance my legislation with Senator Graham to increase investment in the future of our planet, and I will continue working to pass this bill into law.

Senator Graham said:

The Foundation for International Conservation is a win-win in that the bill leverages private capital while supporting the long-term protection of critical landscapes around the world,” said Senator Graham. “Investments in conservation lead to food security and regional stability. I am proud to work with Senator Coons, my colleagues, and stakeholders to position the United States as a leader in international conservation.

ICCF founder David Barron commended the Senate on its leadership, saying:

Once in a generation a new idea comes along that takes root in America to support natural resource management for the future. Today, the United States Senate took a step forward to advance the formation of the United States Foundation for International Conservation to provide conservation leadership support for national parks and protected areas in Africa, Asia, and Latin America for the benefit of their peoples, their communities, and their biodiversity. Thanks to Senators Coons, Graham, and others, that can now become a reality.

Read the full press release here.

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