In Panama, critical mangrove area wins protection
After years of campaigning, green advocates declared victory last month when Panama’s National Environmental Authority (Anam) ordered the protection of a large swath of coastline considered vital to commercial marine species and some of the nation’s richest populations of migratory birds.
Stretching east from Panama City’s oldest colonial neighborhood, the vast Pacific mud flats and dense mangrove stands known commonly as the mangroves of Juan Díaz had long been in developers’ sights. Hundreds of millions of dollars in luxury shopping centers, homes and golf courses were planned there.
But with Anam’s Feb. 3 administrative ruling, the land became part of a new protected area called the Panama Bay Wetlands, encompassing 40,000 hectares (99,000 acres) of coast and 46,000 hectares (114,000 acres) of ocean in Panama Bay.
Government officials say that with large-scale development prohibited, fish and bird habitat will be safeguarded and researchers will be able to assess the status of the area’s endemic and threatened species.