BankAmerica Deal To Aid Rain Forests

BankAmerica Corp. announced Tuesday that, to conserve rain forests in Mexico and Central and South America, it would donate up to $6 million in loans to Latin American countries.

The loans will be donated over three years. The World Wildlife Fund and Conservation International are each getting $3 million and the Smithsonian Institution, the bank's adviser, will get about $100,000.

The donation by the San Francisco-based company is the largest ever by a U.S. bank for conservation purposes.

Although several programs have been devised to use bank loans to Third World countries to fund conservation projects, conservation groups have previously bought loans on the secondary market.

The organizations plan to convert BankAmerica's $6 billion in loans into local currencies. The bank said the first two projects are scheduled for Mexico and Ecuador.

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