OP ED: La Prensa (more than any other Panamanian news source) are continually providing educational pieces on what is occurring right here in Panama as it relates to our own “deforestation”. Brazil has routinely been the focus of this topic, due to the importance of the Amazon basin to the entire planet. But what is happening here, in our own little piece of tropical paradise, is disconcerting as well. I had the personal test of sitting next to a climate change denier this past weekend to sharpen my patience skills. Hearing this asshole rip off decades old pseudo science as a way to claim it is a hoax was quite the challenge. These are the same people that try to convince me that “Big Game:” hunting is actually saving the species. Its a royal crock of shit. But I say that all you need is EYES to see that what we are allowing to occur is WRONG. Please read this piece on Darien, and thank you again La Prensa.
The Amazon disappears, and Darién , the lung of the country, too. In the last 7 years, that province has lost 20 thousand 800 hectares of valuable forests, at a rate of 8.1 hectares per day.
This is reported by the latest 2019 studies prepared by the new Department of Tele Detection created by the Ministry of Environment (Miambiente) to calculate the rate of deforestation nationwide.
This department is responsible for permanently monitoring the country’s forest cover through high resolution satellite geo technology. According to the Minister of Environment, Milciades Concepción , these are “preliminary figures” of a study that is being developed by a specialized team.
Since taking possession on July 1, Concepción suspended for 100 days the timber extraction permits while an “audit” is carried out to know the impact of the logging activity and the guarantees that were given for logging during the last administration , not only in Darien, but also in East Panama.
Despite this measure, those involved in the logging activity seek different mechanisms to continue illegally harvesting wood from this region.
For example, on August 11 authorities of the Ministry of Environment made a tour of the checkpoints in Jenené, in the Cañita sector; and Tortí, between Darién and eastern Panama. During the inspection, it was verified that three containers and two trucks did not have the current transport guides; that is, they were defeated and for that reason they proceeded to apply an administrative sanction.
The guides are the document that indicates that the wood is backed by Miambiente.
In addition to the sanction, the wood was taken to the patio of origin to verify the permits. At that time, Víctor Cadavid, national director of Forestry of the environmental entity, stressed that the operations will continue on a regular basis throughout the country, with the support of the members of the Ecological Police, particularly in the posts of Darien and East Panama.
In the last five years alone (2014-2019), the number of administrative fines and forest sanctions processes applied by the entity in this area were 52, ranging from illegal logging to burning.
Stanley Heckadon , a scientist at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute , knows Darien very well, since between 1970 and 1980 he was part of the group of experts who measured or established the limits of several ecological reserves in that province.
“At that rate indicated by the figures of the Ministry of Environment, Darien will be a great pasture in the future. There will be nothing left. ”
Such was the case of the Filo del Tallo Hydrological Reserve , in which about 17 rivers and streams are born.
However, according to Heckadon, loggers, land speculators and the advance of the agricultural frontier without any planning are damaging the biodiversity of the place.
“At that rate indicated by the figures of the Ministry of Environment, Darien will be a great pasture in the future. There will be nothing left, ”he said.
In fact, another of the problems that concerns the scientist are the large forest fires caused by farmers and ranchers in the area and that many extend to the more than five protected areas that were established in Darien.
Precisely, between March and April of this year several fires caused devastated about one thousand hectares of the Punta Patiño ecological reserve, in Darien.
Following this, the National Association for the Conservation of Nature (Ancon) proceeded with the respective complaints for the Public Ministry to investigate.
But that is not the first nature reserve affected by arson. Three years ago, the wildlife refuge known as Matusagaratí wetlands lost 2,000 hectares of primary forest.
On the other hand, Hermel López, representative of the Association of Professionals of Darién for Integral and Sustainable Development, indicated that it is “regrettable” what is happening in that province. “The impact is irreversible and rivers like the Chucunaque are decreasing their flow. Many are no longer navigable, have a lot of sediment and affect water intakes for the population’s consumption, ”he said.
For López, after the Amazon in Brazil, and the Petén jungle in Guatemala, Darién has the most valuable forests in Latin America. “Without a doubt, Darien is our Amazon,” he added.