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Panama’s Million Hectare Alliance. Recently the Ministerial Cabinet Council sanctioned a bill which aims to promote the conservation of the natural forests and boost the planting of trees in the country.
The Million Hectares Alliance (Alianza por el Millón de Hectáreas) has as a goal these two objectives. To be a major part of the country’s commitment to fight climate change. It also wants to reforest over a twenty year period (2015-2035) one million hectares of land in Panama.
The bill presented by the Environment Minister (MiAmbiente), Mirei Endara, is the product of several months of consultations with the Million Hectares Alliance member, which is formed by several institutions and local organizations.
Endara said that this project creates the establishment of a program to promote the reforestation, recuperation and conservation of a million hectares, reduce deforestation rate and forest degradation, recuperate degraded soils; protect and restore natural forests, riparian zones, water recharge, protected areas and biological corridors.
In that respect, the Forest Incentive Program seeks to benefit, through tax exemption and non reimbursement direct financing, to people and enterprises that fall within the criteria of the project.
The tax exemption will be applicable to individuals and companies who are proprietors, rent private land and or concession or beneficiaries of constituting domain titles on state lands that carry out restoration or reforestation projects. They must have forest management plan or a farm approved by the authorities, which is already in place.
It also establishes that the non reimbursement direct financing beneficiaries will receive the authorized amount of money of this incentive from the Panama Reforestation Fund, which is a revolving fund with mixed administration and patrimony that will receive contributions from the Nation’s general budget, donations, public or private financing and other sources.
It is expected that the States initial contribution will be $15 million and will work as a revolving fund, receiving annual disbursement to complement the initial contribution as it is executed.
This bill will be presented before the National Assembly to be discussed and approved very soon.