The NGO Ancón expressed its rejection of the 42.3% reduction of the Donoso protected area, through Resolution DM-0139-2022 of the Ministry of the Environment, of July 11, published in the Official Gazette of July 15.
Ancón explained that as an entity involved in the creation of the many protected areas in Panama, they are alarmed by the “bad precedent” established by this modification.
He said that this would be the first reduction in the territorial extension of a protected area and that it constitutes a “real threat” for the entire National System of Protected Areas, which covers more than 32% of the land area and 12% of the marine area of the national territory.
The Donoso protected area in Colón was declared a “multiple use area” 13 years ago. It is also part of the Mesoamerican Biological Corridor, which, due to its attributes, declared that “the lowland forests of this sector are connected with montane forests (montane tropical broadleaf ombrophilous evergreen forests, between 1,000 and 1,500 meters above sea level) and submontane (tropical ombrophilous evergreen forests. tropical broadleaf submontane, between 500 and 1000 meters above sea level) of the Central Mountain Range that are found in the limits of the Santa Fe National Park and the General Division Omar Torrijos Herrera National Park, according to a study prepared by ANCON (2008).
The study data indicates the presence of some 256 threatened species, including 70 plant species, 25 mammals, 69 birds, 49 reptiles and 43 amphibians. In addition, the wealth of aquatic and marine species in the Donoso area includes 24 species of fish, two molluscs and three crustaceans, both freshwater and coastal marine.
They also dictate that the forests of Donoso provide shelter to more than 650 species of flora and fauna, most of them threatened, rare, regional, binational and national endemics, with restricted distribution, and with vulnerable and endangered populations.
ANCON explained that this same study dictates that “it is vital to conserve the pantonous forest of Belén, which stands out for containing one of the typical species of the canopy of this type of forest, the orey (Campnospermapanamensis), which to date had not been previously observed in the province of Colón, since it had only been observed in the Bocatoreño Caribbean and Guna Yala, in addition to the Pacific coast of Darién.The lowland forests of Donoso are reservoirs of genes of native plant species of great commercial timber value that have practically disappeared from other regions of the country”.
The environmental organization recalled that the Ministry of Environment is the entity with the power to manage all protected areas of the National System of Protected Areas of Panama (SINAP) by law, and any modification of a protected area according to current regulations requires studies. biophysical and socio-cultural, and consultation processes with local communities, as well as with the community in general.
He criticized that the reduction of Donoso has not had an evaluation of its impact on biodiversity and conservation objectives, nor the observations made by civil society and enters into a direct collision with previous decisions of the Supreme Court of Justice.
“The protected area of Donoso, on several occasions has faced threats of land segregation and reduction of its limits,” stressed the NGO.
For ANCON, “with this reduction a negative precedent is created for the conservation of the system of protected areas, which easily allows reducing its limits and titling lands, since the process did not verify that all those who benefited from the measure were there before the creation of the protected area and left gaps that benefit large industries such as mining”.
Therefore, they reject the reduction of the protected area of Donoso by 42.3% of its extension, and the lack of compliance with due legal process, without taking into account citizen participation and complying with an armored process with due impact studies and environmental compensation .
“It is our mission to ensure the protection and conservation of forests, maintain their terrestrial and aquatic connectivity, guarantee the environmental services provided by forests in protected areas and protect water resources, which is very important for the supply of water for consumption. for present and future generations,” said ANCON.