With an elevation range from sea level to 12,500 feet, it is not surprising that Amistad/Bocas del Toro hosts 4 percent of all terrestrial species on earth. Some of the unique mammals found here are jaguars, ocelots, peccaries, giant anteaters, sloths, the countries’ largest populations of Baird’s tapirs, and howler, black-handed spider, and white-faced capuchin monkeys.
The Talamanca highlands provide habitat for more than 400 bird species, including the resplendant quetzal, bare-necked umbrellabird, harpy eagle, and great green macaw. The region is host to 180 plant species found nowhere else in the world and the Talamanca mountains contain 90 percent of all plant species found in Costa Rica.
Despite the region’s remoteness and relatively small human population, many threats jeopardize its biological richness. Overfishing, unregulated tourism, colonization, logging, and forest clearing for subsistence farms, plantations, and cattle ranching contribute to water pollution and sedimentation of sensitive waterways. A series of hydroelectric dams, power plants and roads are planned for the area and will seriously endanger the region’s rivers and forests.
A Strategy of Success
Since 1995, Parks in Peril (PiP) has been working in the Costa Rica-Panama binational region to strengthen conservation capacity in local organizations and communities within the Talamanca-Caribbean Biological Corridor. Today, PiP is working with local stakeholders to consolidate the Amistad International Park/Bocas del Toro area by identifying critical targets and stresses through Conservation Area Planning (CAP). This complex system of stakeholders requires that PiP work with a number of different partners to focus on unique areas of Amistad/Bocas del Toro.
In the Seas to Summit initiative, PiP is focusing on the continental high elevation areas to complement the work of USAID’s Central American Regional Environmental Program (PROARCA) in the lowlands and marine and coastal areas. Across the Pacific and Atlantic lowlands and highlands, PiP and partner organizations are managing freshwater systems and biological corridors, monitoring forest cover, and strengthening community-based conservation projects. With the partner, Fundación de Cuencas de Limón, an ecotourism strategy and a watershed user-fee system are now being implemented.
PiP has created a bi-national commission to coordinate work between the four governmental organizations responsible for park management. Working across the site’s complexities, PiP is helping local partners to guide their communities and governments to establish projects locally. Under this approach, community-based project leaders are known as local sustainable action promoters in recognition of their focus on local and immediate situations.
Read more about La Amistad/Bocas del Toro...
The Nature Conservancy in La Amistad/Talamanca and La Amistad/Bocas del Toro
Online Field Guide to Bocas del Toro, Panama
Read more about projects in Panama...
Darién Biosphere Reserve
Chagres/Panama Canal Watershed
Panama Partner Organizations