Causes and Solutions

Deforestation

Where Have all the Trees Gone?

Panama has lost nearly half of its forest cover since 1900, driven largely by economic pressures. The demand of land for timber, crops, and livestock continues to cause deforestation to this day, with the effects sometimes even spilling over illegally into protected land.

Exotic species pose another unique threat to native tropical forests. Exotic trees, mainly Teak (Tectona grandis) are grown within large scale plantations throughout Panamá, but the monocultural nature of these plantations leaves little resources for native wildlife. Additionally, accidentally introduced invasive species, like Elephant Grass (Pennisetum purpureum), often crowd out native vegetation after a disturbance, preventing forests from naturally regrowing.

Even protected areas can be invaded by exotic species, especially fast-growing grasses that can crowd out natives.

Cattle pastures now cover about 25% of Panamá, and exist even near the mountaintops.

Gallery forests near waterways have an extra strong impact on people living within a local watershed.

Reforestation

All is not Lost

The Alliance for a Million Hectares is working hard to reforest Panamá. If successful, the amount of forest in Panamá will increase for the first time in a millennium. Efforts currently focus on improving management for existing protected areas and gallery forests and establishing more sustainable practices for the timber and agricultural sectors. For more information, visit the main project site.