The United States and Jamaica have reached an agreement to reduce Jamaica's debt to the United States in exchange for a program to restore and preserve the island nation's tropical rainforests.

The U.S. State Department announced the agreement Friday. The plan calls for a reduction of almost $16 million in Jamaica's debt. The Jamaican government is to fund projects over the next 20 years designed to preserve the island's natural resources.

Jamaica is said to have many unique plant and animal species, which are vulnerable to extinction.

The agreement was reached in cooperation with the Nature Conservancy, which is contributing $1.3 million to the effort.

The agreement was completed under the Tropical Forest Conservation Act of 1998. The U.S. law is designed to provide eligible developing countries opportunities to reduce their debt to the United States while generating funds for conservation efforts.