Tourism and Conservation in Panama

Panama’s wildlife is just stunning – 10’444 different types of plant species, 678 fern species, 1’500 varieties of trees, as well as 255 species of mammals and 972 indigenous bird species. There is a history behind this rich biodiversity, let’s start from the very beginning: Everything started 65 million years ago; the two continents, North and South America were joined by a land bridge, as we know it from today. Then, around 50 million years ago, the continents split apart, and for millions of years they kept separate from one another. This allowed mother nature to create unique and fascinating landscapes in both continents. The land of South America soon gave rise to a numerous species, such as bird families, neo-tropical rodents, iguanas, frogs and more. In North America, animals such as horses, deer, raccoons, squirrels and mice flourished, as the continent repeatedly collided with Eurasia.

Three million years ago happened the world change!   The natural history for both continents: The land bridge of Panama arose. Migration started and species from North America went south and from South America north, where they found their homes in the lush forest and wetlands along the isthmus. The great variety of plant species created the perfect conditions for nourishing wildlife including the Jaguar.

‘Yaguará’ is a Panamanian Foundation that works towards the conservation of  wild cats. They are studying the Jaguar’s behavior through placing cameras and GPS Collars, in order to develop conservation in the jaguar habitats. They also directly work with the local communities, which has proved to be very important and successful to immediately apply conservation of this beautiful mammals.

Ricardo Moreno who has been nominated by National Geographic as an emergent explorer, is a Panamanian biologist and one of the the leader of  Fundación Yaguara. He fights for the conservation of the Jaguar and the Puma in Panama, and says that “the situation is critical, and there is no time to wait. It is important to create a pacific cohabitation between mankind and the felines.”

The conflicts between Felines and humans arose because their natural prey was scarce, due to human activities such as hunting and habitat occupation, threrefore the cats attacked livestock’s. Unfortunately, people used to “solve” the situation by just sacrificing the felines, and this caused a serious fall in jaguar’s populations in the Mesoamerican Biological Corridor and Panama. Several studies showed that if the cats had enough natural prey, they wouldn’t attack livestock.

“Yaguará” started a program which gives a monetary compensation to the owners of domestic animals, if their animals were preyed.  They also support the local communities by educating in learning to live with the jaguars and avoid killing them.   The communities could take benefit from conserving the natural habitats and supporting the trend in the tourism industry:  Adventure and Conservation.

Academic and Educational adventures are a way to discover Panama and learn about the efforts of several scientists, guides and tour companies that promote the restoration of our natural habitats.   In conjunction with different organizations such as STRI, Fundacion Avifauna, APTSO, YAGUARA among others EcoCircuitos is promoting Tourism, Conservation and Education.

Explore with the experts in the field and discover a country full of contrasts.  You can contribute to the conservation and efforts of this organization and others by traveling responsable.

For more information contact us info@ecocircuitos.com

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Ministry of Environment launches ‘Green Tourism Initiative’ in National Protected Areas in Panama

On the occasion of the World Earth Day, the Ministry of Environment of Panama launched the Green Tourism Initiative, one of the strategic priorities of Minister of Environment Mirei Endara.

D01A1460Endara noted that this Green Tourism strategy has several components that aim to develop a shared national vision and to prepare an action plan that will allow ecotourism to be a driver of economic growth and social inclusion, as established by the Strategic Governmental Plan 2015-2019.

To achieve this goal, the Minister stressed that it is crucial to have the support and involvement of key stakeholders in the public and private sector, NGOs, community groups, municipalities and volunteers, including their partner implementing institutions, the Tourism Authority of Panama and the National Institute of Culture.

As part of this initiative the Ministry of Environment issued a Decree, which supports the development of a National Action Plan for the Development of Ecotourism in Protected Areas of Panama. This reaffirms the commitment of the Government of the Republic of Panama to implement the components of the Green Tourism Initiative, said Minister Endara.

President Varela explained that the signed Decree promotes sectorial integration of the Ministry of Environment, the Tourism Authority of Panama and the National Institute of Culture in terms of ecotourism with the goal to develop, together with the civil society, communities and private companies a national vision towards a green, responsible tourism aligned to national and international standards.

“This way, we will promote a sustainable economic activity, valuing our natural resources, and promoting prosperity with equity,” stressed the President.

An Action Plan will be elaborated with support of Sustainable Travel International, “through a participatory process that should lead us to create a country brand for our ecotourism products, which will generate demand parallel to the increase of Panama´s ecotourism products “, said president Varela.

The president highlighted that “The action plan’s primary goal is to generate welfare for communities and organisations within and adjacent to protected areas.”

Minister Endara mentioned that some of these actions will be supported by the ECOTUR-AP project, funded by the Global Environment Fund (GEF) through the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB).