Threats to Conservation
Logs, Fire, and Cows
In 1997, three quarters of Panamá’s Darién Province was forested. Today that proportion is much less as prominent trees, including cativo (Prioria copaifera) and cuipo (Cavanillesia platanifolia), continue to be felled for timber or removed in slash-and-burn operations for agricultural land – mainly cattle pastures – that support the livelihoods of the locals.
Raising livestock is a main part of Panamá’s economy. Yet it has great environmental impact, since livestock require large tracts of land and the traditional way in which livestock farming is carried out leads to the removal of plants and entire forests, causing soil degradation, contamination of the waters, loss of biodiversity and droughts in the water sources. Currently 25% of Panamá is being used for livestock.
Conservation at Chucantí
It’s Not All Bad – We’re Fighting Back
90.4% of Panama’s forest are privately owned, including the Cerro Chucantí Private Nature Reserve. By removing agricultural farm animals and allowing forests to encroach on reserve land previously used for cattle ranching, we aim to bring back the native ecosystems through natural forest regeneration.
We are assisted in our forest regeneration efforts by the local wildlife. Frugivorous species of bats, for example, can speed forest regeneration by dispersing seeds. At Chucantí, bat species composition and abundance are overall relatively comparable to that of undisturbed forests in other parts of Panama, but researchers have particularly noted an abundance of Carollia and Artibeus species – both frugivores – which highlights the current regenerative success of Chucantí.