Fate of canal-side forest in Panama in doubt


In 1903, when Panama ceded a strip of land 10 miles wide to the U.S. government for construction of a canal, the country was covered with tropical forest. Since then, more than half the national territory has been deforested, and the destruction continues at a rate of 70,000 to 100,000 acres (30,000 to 40,000 hectares) annually, conservationists say. The U.S. government left the forest largely undeveloped in the Canal Zone, a jungle oasis bordered by farms and urban sprawl. But since the Canal Zone passed into Panama’s hands in 1999, concern has grown about the government’s ability to protect the wilderness. Conservationist Stanley Heckadon, former head of Panama’s top environmental agency, points out that more than half of Panama’s 2.8 million people live in the... [Log in to read more]

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