06 de Oct de 2022


Deforestation is killing Darien

PANAMA. Darien, the great national frontier famous for its flora and fauna has become a victim of progress and its majestic trees are b...

PANAMA. Darien, the great national frontier famous for its flora and fauna has become a victim of progress and its majestic trees are being cut down by people hoping to sell the precious woods to the highest bidder.

This province has the biggest territorial extension with 16803 square kilometers, with a lot of rivers and paradoxically it is less populated. However the indiscriminate cutting of trees and deforestation has threatened to convert it into a desert over the next few years.

When you follow the road towards this province, near the highway it is very easy to observe the barren land scorched by peasants, who believe that burning is the most effective way to clear the land for agricultural purposes. The further in you go the more evident is the deforestation of this area.

Darien ‘s vegetation is made up by forests, that change depending of the altitude and the amount of rain, and biologists classify the climate as tropical humid, but they are losing ground due to the deforestation.

The biologist and tourist Segundo Sugasti said that since 2002 slowly and surely the forests are beginning to disappear.

“Areas like the river beds of the rivers Congo and Marea, the cushioning zone of the Darien National Park in the Real secto, Zambu, Garachine, all around the road of the Chucunaque river are showing signs of desforestation and indicriminate cutting of trees,” said Sugasti.

He added that at this rate Darien’s forests will disappear in no time and the province will cease to be the ideal place for eco-tourism.

The National Environment Agency ANAM is trying to control the situation. Carlos Gomez from the Forest Deparment said that during the dry season they carry out operations together with the National Police in Panama East and Darien to detect any fires or illegal cutting of trees, because during that period these sort of practices intensify.

However, he recognizes that it is not enough because obviously, Darien’s territory is so vast, that the ANAM depend on the report of the citizens to control the problem.

Gomez pointed out that currently ANAM is only given subsistence permits to cut trees to the community and they are not given forest concessions to companies.

He explained that the Forest Law of 2004 gives protection to three types of forest, which covers 36 percent of the national territory and those which are special due to their strategic importance and production the State through the ANAM could authorize their exploitation. This is done through forest management plan which must have environmental impact studies.

Gomez said that any person who is cutting trees without permission could be sanctioned with a fine and jail. He added that under the subsistence exploitation agreement for every tree that is cut ten more must be planted.

The biologist Sugasti thinks that the government is not doing enough to protect the forest. The authorities should involve the community. He argued that the environmental campaigns give a great deal of importance to animals and plants, but the do not include man.

“People feel excluded and for that reason, on a whim or revenge they have decided to destroy the forest. However, if the communities are included in the conservation programs doing awareness, they can become instruments to stop deforestation, and we will have a different reality. Having a thousand forest rangers will not deter illegal cutting of trees, but if you get them involved then they will help,” said Sugasti.

Gomez said that due to the vastness of Darien it is very difficult to patrol the area. For that reason it is important for the population to understand the importance of protecting and conserving natural resources.