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The wetland of Panama Bay is formed by a set of ecosystems that include: ponds and flooded grasslands in the more remote parts of the coast, flooded forests and mangroves on the coast, streams banks, and extensive areas of mudflats that directly provide livelihoods to migratory bird populations. The area includes terrestrial, lacustrine, fluvial, estuarine and coastal marine environments.

It is Ramsar site number 1319 of the List of Wetlands of International Importance.

Surface

The protected area has a total area of ​​856 km2, from which 396km2 are terrestrial, and 459 km2 are marine. The Ramsar site has an area of ​​489 km2.

Land use

The area has different land uses, ranging from urban development areas, to communities engaged in farming and fishing, which in many cases have turn to mangrove cutting and swamps filling, in order to make them suitable areas for their activities.

In the waters adjacent to the coast, fishing is performed on industrial and artisan scale. There is a port on the Coquira sector (Bayano River), where a ​​fishing collection point has been established. Large rice crops exist near wetland area and in some cases even extend inside wetland. On the other hand, most of the communities within the wetland area (east of the Panama province), are engaged in subsistence farming and harvesting of coastal and marine products such as clams and crabs.

Threats over wetland

Currently, Ramsar site faces several pressures that could threaten its ecological integrity, including: pollution from domestic and industrial solid waste discharges, agricultural waste drainage, spills of oil and other substances due to accidents. In Panama Bay, about 40 million metric tons of raw sewage are poured per year. For this reason, Panamanian government has launched a mega project to clean up Panama Bay, which is led by the Ministry of Health (MINSA), together with the Institute of Aqueducts and Sewers (IDAAN).

Other significant threats include: urban expansion over mangrove areas that compromises hydrology ecosystem, deforestation in river upper basins, concessions for sand mining in sublittoral zone, and overexploitation of fishery resources.

Environmental Services

It is one of the most important areas for migratory shorebirds in the Americas. The highest one day total count  was more than 362.952 shorebirds in October 1997. 90% of intertidal shorebirds that winter in Panama, use an area of ​​30 km that runs from Juan Diaz until shortly before the mouth of the river Bayano. It was the first site in Central America to join Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network (WHSRN) in 2005.

This wetland is a major livelihood for fisheries in Panama Gulf. Additionally, a large number of Panamanians are directly dependent on its resources for their livelihood (firewood, timber, among others).

Source: Inventory of inland and coastal wetlands of Panama. CREHO, 2010.

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This area was part of former Panama Canal Zone, under administration of the United States, which subsequently reverted to Panama in 1999. The bottom stream of Chagres River runs through the center area, whose river flows are controlled by ​​Gatún dam. The area possesses imporant natural, cultural and historical values. It includes a freshwater wetland called Mojinga Swamp, mangroves areas and coral reefs.

Surface

The wetland area covers an area of ​​approximately 138 km2, from which 130 km2 are mangroves and 8 km2 are swamp forests.

Land use

The lands within protected area have many uses including: environmental conservation, culture preservation of colonial buildings,  housing of residents located within periphery, and subsistence agriculture.

Threats over wetland

Some threats to the wetland are: water pollution by solid and liquid waste, deforestation, wind power projects, loss of wildlife, and sites intended for agriculture and housing mainly in Loma Flores community.

Environmental Services

The area is part of the heritage tourism strategy of the government which interlaces tourism, conservation, scientific research and sustainable management of resources by local communities. It is known that beaches inside protected area are used by some sea turtles for spawning, including the hawksbill turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata). It is estimated that Sherman area contains 3% of Panama’s cativo forests.

Source: Inventory of inland and coastal wetlands of Panama. CREHO, 2010.

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This coastal-marine wetland is dominated by mangrove ecosystems, seagrass beds and coral reefs. It was part of the areas that made up the Canal Zone, and from July 1997 became a protected area. Since 1967, STRI manages a laboratory that investigates local coastal marine ecosystems.

Surface

6.05 km2

Land use

It is a protected area used for scientific research. It consists of mixed forests, mangroves, grasslands, coral platform and abandoned infrastructure of U.S. military.

Threats over wetland

Since wetland has always been under some sort of protection, either by U.S. government or by ANAM, environmental impact applied by neighboring communities has been minimal.

Environmental Services

The wetland provides recreation, research, fisheries and coastal protection, among others. Mangroves composing Isla Galeta are part of the Panamanian Caribbean mangroves, which only account for 3% of total mangrove area of ​​the country, but sustain reproduction of commercially important marine species. Galeta Island seagrasses are important molluscs reproductive deposits.

More than 360 marine algae and 770 species of marine invertebrates have been documented on Galeta Island. It has also been reported 36 species of hermatypic corals make up an important network, among which Millepora and Siderastrea genders are noted.

Galeta Island has ecological peculiarities that make it very interesting. For instance, 30% of its territory consists of mangrove forests that have not been touched in 70 years.

Source: Inventory of inland and coastal wetlands of Panama. CREHO, 2010.

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San San-Pond Sak is made up of a set of channels and lagoons of fresh to brackish, extending from the border with Costa Rica, to the Bay of Almirante. Wetland offers vegetation from evergreen and occasionally flooded forests, palms, flooded shrublands, swamps and mangroves. The surrounding area consists of extensive banana plantations and areas devoted to livestock and subsistence farming. Is Ramsar site number 611 of the List of Wetlands of International Importance.

Surface

The protected area covers 161km2 and Ramsar site 164 km2.

Land use

Some indigineous communities of Ngäbes and Bugle live within the wetland, making traditional farming, hunting and fishing activities. Even though part of the protected area is private, ANAM maintains the entire area under a protection category.

Threats over wetland

Large amounts of agrochemicals are used in bananas plantations, near areas drained by San San and Changuinola rivers. Sewage waste waters from Changuinola city go directly to Changuinola river. Frequent pressure for real estate development exists due to partial private ownership in area.

Evironmental Services

The site has one of the largest manatees populations in the Panamian Caribbean. Moreover, it is a  nesting area of regional importance for channel and hawksbill turtles.

Source: Inventory of inland and coastal wetlands of Panama. CREHO, 2010.

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San Miguel Gulf
May 142013

Gulf of San Miguel is the largest estuary in Panama, with an area of ​​about 1,760 km2, which represents 17% of the mangrove area covered nationally. This area has been reduced significantly in recent decades.

In the wetland of San Miguel Gulf is possible to find mangrove formations that have developed greatly, with trees of  more than 30m height, especially in areas near the mouths of rivers Congo, Cucunatí, Sabanas, Tuira-Balsas, Setegantí and Mogue. The area offers suitable systems to breed multiple species of commercial value.

Surface

400 km2

Land use

Areas covered by mangrove forests and shrubs, dedicated to agricultural activities.

Threats over wetland

The main threats are related to changes in land use. Records show that about 30% of the original mangrove cover has been lost recent decades. Similarly, there is evidence of inappropriate fishing practices and violations of fishing bans on marine species imposed by ARAP.

Environmental Services

This wetland provides services such as:  shoreline protection, reproduction and breeding of economically important marine species, forest resources; and commercial and recreational fishing. Wetland is important for migratory shorebirds, and may contain 1.1% of population of  Numenius phaeopus from North America. High fishing productivity of San Miguel district makes it critically important for a sustainable economic growth in the province of Darien.

Source: Inventory of inland and coastal wetlands of Panama. CREHO, 2010.

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This permanent natural wetland is located on a large floodplain with slight terrain undulations. The landscape has changed recently due to extensive livestock development. However, less damaged forests can be found toward wetland areas.

Surface

140.00 km2

Land use

A section of the wetland is under protection as part of the Forest Reserve Canglón. However, areas outside the protected area are the subject of agricultural activities, primarily livestock for meat production.

Threats over wetland

The main threats are related to the development of extensive livestock, rice cultivation, land speculation and illegal hunting. There are pressures for oil palm concessions in the wetland. There is a strong human pressure on the wetland, for the illegal allotment of lands that have been recognized and defined as protected areas by ANAM.

Outsiders and landowners from El Lirial and Nuevo Progreso communities, plan to exploit lagoon to grow rice and develop tourist activities.

Environmental Services

It is estimated that the wetland is likely to be a nesting site cocoi herons (Ardea cocoi) and other freshwater species. Subsistence fishing, hunting and farming resources are obtained from wetland.

Source: Inventory of inland and coastal wetlands of Panama. CREHO, 2010.

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Cañas Island
May 132013

Wetlands of Cañas Island are part of a protected area that consists of mangrove forests, estuarine areas and Cañas Island; which is a barrier-type island separated from mainland by 200m at its narrower point. Main attraction of wetland arecsea turtles that nest on the southern beaches of the island.

Surface

The protected area covers about 254 km2, and includes approximately 32 km2 of  mangroves, and about 13 linear kilometers of sandy beaches in Cañas Island.

Land use

Isla de Cañas wildlide refuge, land use is partialy agricultural with areas devoted to commercial crops of watermelon, cantaloupe and frijoles. There is also land used for livestock, and some communities are engaged in fishing and extraction of marine resources such as clams, brown shell, crab and turtle eggs. Only the mangrove area is protected and conserved.

Pressures on the wetland

Main threats are related to exploitation and extraction of turtle eggs. Similarly, the expansion of the agricultural frontier is a threat that has already disappeared more than 2 km2 of mangrove forest, without considering the impact of agrochemical pollution.

Development of tourism and real estate projects is a serious threat to ecological integrity, threatening the survival of turtle’s species that nest on these beaches. Large shrimp fishing boats operate illegally within the area, seriously threatening marine species during sea turtles spawning season. There is also erosion on island shores that may be due to sea level rise.

Environmental Services

The community benefits economically from fishing and the extraction of turtle eggs, brown shell and clams. In addition, this wetland community provides intrinsic ecosystem services, such as larval recruitment areas for fish production, shoreline protection and carbon sequestration, among others.

Thousands of Lepidochelys olivacea turtles arrive at the island between the months of July to November. Other species of sea turtles also spawn on the island. Small bird colonies also nest in the area, like the species of Bubulcus ibis and Eudocimus albus. In addition, the wetland is a nesting site for the nationally threatened bird Dendrocygna autumnalis.

Source: Inventory of inland and coastal wetlands of Panama. CREHO, 2010.

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Agua Dulce Wetlands
May 132013

Agua Dulce Wetlands is a complex set of mangroves, salt marshes and dry scrubs near Aguadulce town.

Surface

50km2

Land use

Salt mining, shrimp farming in ponds, fishing, waterfowl hunting, and logging of mangrove for timber and fuel; are some of the acitivities performed in the are.

Threats over wetland

Mangrove extraction is performed without proper controls. Agro chemicals used on rice and sugar cane crops constantly pollute water draining the wetland. In addition, uncontrolled duck hunting is carried on.

Environmental Services

This wetland is an important nesting area for commercial fish species and crustaceans, and one of the most important food sources for migratory waterfowl and residents of Parita Bay.

Source: Inventory of inland and coastal wetlands of Panama. CREHO, 2010

 

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This wetland consists of beaches, coastal vegetation transition, ponds, sedge marshes, swamp Orey forests, occasionally flooded alluvial forest, mangroves, and forests dominated by palms. Unique region characteristics enable the presence of interconnected ecosystems of sea grass, and coral and rocky reefs.

Surface

240.89 km2

Land use

Damani-Guariviara wetland is part of an indigenous community  devoted to traditional crops such as cassava, plantain, otoe, yams, corn and bananas, among others. Land is used collectively, but with a low density approach due to site isolation.

Threats over wetland

Ngäbe and Buglé ethnic groups currently make a living from the region resources. However, there is an environmental risk due to population increase and changes in agricultural production systems. In different areas of the wetland, mining and tourist concessions have been granted without proper environmental studies.

Environmental services

In addition to provide subsistence to Bugle and Ngäbe communities, the wetland works as a regulator of the local hydrology system, and represent a habitat for nationally threatened birds and endemic species, like the family Rallidae.

Source: Inventory of inland and coastal wetlands of Panama. CREHO, 2010.

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Patiño Point (630)
May 132013

Patiño Point wetland is an area that stretches along the coast of Darien and contains a variety of ecosystems, including flooded forests, plus extensive muddy beaches at the mouths of estuaries Mogue, Mogocénega, Quebrada Honda and Patiño. It is recognized that this site is important for the economic livelihood of the surrounding communities, which are engaged in fishing for shrimp, fish and lobster, among others.

This wetland is Ramsar site number 630 of the List of Wetlands of International Importance.

Surface

This wetland covers 138.05 km2.

Land use

Some areas are devoted to subsistence farming. Communities are involved in fishing and hand extraction of crabs and clams, subsistence hunting, and a limited livestock. Most part of the Ramsar site comprises of mangrove forests, this land use is primarily for conservation.

Threats over wetland

Main threats are related to inadequate agriculture development , and in some cases illegal extraction of resources (removal of mangroves for construction). Overfishing is present since the area is known as Panama’s best fishing spot for white shrimp.

Environmental Services

It is an area that serves as larval recruitment for fish production in the country. The wetland also plays an important role in coast protection and carbon sequestration, among others. Similarly, the benefits to communities relate primarily to the extraction of resources for subsistence and construction.

The wetland is habitat for endangered bird species worldwide. It is an important area for migratory shorebirds.

Source: Inventory of inland and coastal wetlands of Panama. CREHO, 2010.

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Parita Bay
May 132013

This is a marine-coastal wetland, surrounded by pastures belonging to large farmers in the area. At the shelter, you can find five species of mangrove and xerophytic plants and a variety of fauna. The temporary water body has a depth of 1.50 m, which depends on the amount of annual precipitation.

Surface

Protected area covers approximately 10.00 km2, with dominant mangrove vegetation (about 3.30 km2), shallow marshes (3.50 km2) and dry scrub. Wetland maintains a water surface of about 0.25 km2, which completely disappears in the months of December to April.

Land use

Surrounding wetland areas are used mainly for livestock and agriculture. This area offers certain constructions that allow bird watching and trail walking for tourists and visitors.

Pressures over wetland

Expansion of the agricultural and paddock frontier is a real threat. Other harmful activities have been reported, such as illegal hunting, mangrove removal and waste disposal by nearby communities.

Environmental Benefits

Wetland possesses one of the largest know herons colonies in Panama. The largest Panama colonies of white ibis (Eudocimus albus) and great egret (Ardea alba) are also present in the wetland. This wetland is a resting and feeding area for shorebirds that use Parita Bay. Certainly part of fishing performed in Parita Gulf relies on the wetland ecosystems status.

Source: Inventory of inland and coastal wetlands of Panama. CREHO, 2010.

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Montijo Golf (510)
May 132013

In the Gulf of Montijo Ramsar site, you can find many wetland ecosystems ranging from sand and mud beaches, mangroves and estuarine systems, seasonally flooded swamp forests, coral communities on rocky reefs and surface wetlands, to rice plantations. Wetland boundaries consist of pasture for ranching and agricultural growing areas (mainly rice).

Surface

The protected area covers about 894.52 km2 and Ramsar site covers 807.65 km2.

Land use

Traditional extraction activitie are still practiced. Mainland provides timber, medicinal plants, animal protein from hunting, agriculture, and some livestock. In coastal areas people market mangrove bark and poles, lobsters, shells, crabs and a diversity of fishes from small scale fishing. In recent years a growing ecotourism has been developed by local groups.

Threats over wetland

Main pressures come from activities such as logging and burning to dry wetlands for agriculture, agrochemical pollution on water sources and unregulated extraction of aquatic species for their market.

Environmental Services

On this wetland, 168 species of marine and estuarine fish have been identified. From these species, 113 have market relevance. 160 species of molluscs have identified, from which 16 have market importance. 39 species of Brachyura crustaceans have been identified, from which nine have marke potential.

The wetland is an important winter area for migratory shorebird species. There is a recent local ecotourism activity that enables mangrove appreciation, while receiving complementary services such as local gastronomic and cultural activities.

Source: Inventory of inland and coastal wetlands of Panama. CREHO, 2010.

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Pedregal mangroves
May 122013

This wetland offers mangrove and swamp forests. It also includes the islands of Sevilla, Sabino, Chalapa, Sabaneta, Boquita, Los Higueros, Mono y Muerto. Borders with Wildlife Refuge Playa de la Barqueta Agrícola and Marine National Park Gulf of Chiriqui.

Surface

The wetland area is approximately 759.65 km2, including mangroves, farmland, beaches, bush and sea surface.

Land use

In the surrounding area, land is used for cattle ranching, rice cultivation and subsistence agriculture. In recent decades some areas within the wetlands have been cleared for crop development. ARAP prohibits, under certain criteria, activities within the wetlands and establishes penalties and procedures for violations.

Threats over wetland

There is a large deforestation inside the mangrove caused by the extraction of shells and by the conversion to pasture, farmland and housing developments. There has been decline in catches of commercial shellfish species and marine fish, partly because of the lack of management actions. Serious environmental damage is created by chemicals used in crops, and by direct sewage discharge from various agribusinesses.

Environmental Services

200 fishermen in the area are benefited from fishery resources, and around 165 people benefit from  collection of shells and crustaceans. The extraction of wood and mangrove shell provides a living to about forty people. This wetland provides shelter and food to shore birds and other species that breed in nearby protected areas. It’s also the only place in Panama where you can find a significant population of the globally threatened Yellow-billed Cotinga.

 

Source: Inventory of inland and coastal wetlands of Panama. CREHO, 2010.

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Chame Bay
May 92013

Chame ​​mangroves area contains extensive areas of mangroves and mudflats, located in the lower part of the Chame River basin, from Chame river mouth Chame to community of Monte Oscuro Abajo. Chame mangrove areas are completely flat areas and are surrounded by a chain of mountains, including Camapana hill  and Punta Chame.

Surface

Chame mangroves cover about 59,576 km2 and an area of ​​39.00 km2 of mudflats at the mouth of the river Chame.

Land use

Mangrove area is controlled by the government. Two-thirds of the area immediately surrounding the mangroves, are devoted to agricultural use. Just over 5 km2 are dedicated to reforestation and human settlements, tourism acitivities and beach houses. Forestry and fishing activities are performed in the mangroove.

Threaths over wetland

Touristic importance of this coastal region has improved basic services to sustain hotels and beach houses infrastructure. However, this development threatens the existence of mangroves near these touristic areas. Unplanned use of forest resources has affected some areas now damaged. There is currently a project aimed to control forest resources exploitation.

Environmental Services

It is an important site for migratory shorebirds, with a maximum count of 7,846 a day in January 1993. It is an important feeding site for the colony of herons nesting in Taborcillo island. The area is an important source of mangrove wood for construction, charcoal and firewood, which is the lifeline for many families in the zona.Este wetland supports an important fishery to the local and regional level, is calculated, for example, that in Chame area 214,971.85 kg are caught each year of marine species.

 

The wetland has significant attractions that are visited by locals and foreigners, especially during the dry season.

 

Source: Inventory of inland and coastal wetlands of Panama. CREHO, 2010.

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