The San Bartolo Private Nature Reserve is a 105-hectare property near Panama’s southwestern border with Costa Rica. With elevations ranging from 150 – 600m, most of the reserve consists of old-growth, lowland tropical rainforests that are now rare in this region due to land clearing for agriculture. In fact, the San Bartolo Reserve is part of the largest remaining patch of lowland tropical rainforest in southwestern Panama!
Most of the Reserve is dedicated to conservation, with the remainder being used for low-impact, environmentally sustainable activities (e.g., research). Agriculture, burning, hunting, and logging are all banned within the reserve, and the only buildings present are small-scale and related to scientific research and the observation of fauna and flora.
Explore this page for more information on this area's unique environment, the rare species present here, and more!
The El Chorogo Forests
The San Bartolo Private Nature Reserve forms part of the El Chorogo forests, the largest patch of lowland rainforest remaining in southwestern Panama. These forests are of vital importance to the local communities because they protect the upper basins of two important rivers – the San Bartolo and Palo Blanco – both of which supply water to the local population and the surrounding agribusiness.
The El Chorogo forests also adjoin the Conte Burica Ngäbe-Bugle Indigenous Territory, the most isolated indigenous territory in Costa Rica, forming part of a larger, international area of vital habitat. Many unique animals and plants live in this area, which are explored further in the following sections.
Plants of San Bartolo
Due to its remote location and lack of infrastructure, there have been very few scientific expeditions in this area. In 2016, however, a group of scientific researchers from the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute and the University of Panama (Rodolfo Flores, Ernesto Campos Pineda and Mireya Correa) carried out an expedition that reported two new country records for plants in Panam – Calathea vinosa and Dracontium pittieri. One of the plants collected in this expedition, Bauhinia proboscidea, also turned out to be a species new to science! With additional surveys carried out by ADOPTA, we anticipate the discovery of many more species previously unrecorded for Panama.
Wildlife of San Bartolo
The San Bartolo Private Nature Reserve contains several threatened species such as the Endangered [EN] Central American Squirrel Monkey (Saimiri oerstedii) and Yellow-billed Cotinga (Carpodectes antoniae), and Vulnerable [VU] species such as the Turquoise Cotinga (Cotinga ridgwayi) and the Three-wattled Bellbird (Procnias tricarunculatus).
It is also an amazing birdwatching location! This is the only region in Panama where 12 species of birds globally restricted to the South Central American Pacific Slope Endemic Bird Area (EBA) are present (e.g., Black-hooded Antshrike, Baird’s Trogon) and has also been designated by BirdLife International as an Important Bird Area (PA011). It is one of the best remaining sites to see White-crested Coquette, Golden-naped Woodpecker, Tawny-winged Woodcreeper, and Spot-crowned Euphonia; many migrant birds such as Sharp-shinned Hawks, Philadelphia Vireos, Swainson’s Thrushes, Scarlet Tanagers, and more also occur here as they travel between North and South America.
Many other charismatic animals are also present in the area! Mammals like Collared Peccaries, Ocelots, Central American Wooly Opossum, Silky Anteater, Neotropical River Otter, Olingo, Margay and Jaguarundi are known from the area of the reserve, alond with several reptile and amphibian species such as the frogs Colosthetus flotator and Eleutherodactylus noblei, the salamander Bolitoglossa lignicolor, and the lizards Anolis polylepis and Leposoma southi.