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Preserving Nature and Promoting Livelihoods in Panama’s Darién

The Panama Community Forestry project helped preserve the existing biodiversity of the natural forests while helping the indigenous peoples to sustainably manage the area by counteracting deforestation and illegal commercial activity.
The Darién region of Panama contains vast areas of natural resources, yet it is one of the most impoverished areas in the country. The Panama Community Forestry (FCD) project worked to improve the status of biodiversity in the Chocó eco-region through sustainable management of forests. Under the USAID program, Chemonics increased the environmental and economic benefits from sustainable forest management by helping diversify the local economy.
The extensive landscape of Darién possesses extremely significant natural resources and its ecosystem includes rich terrestrial, coastal and marine biodiversity. FCD operated in two indigenous reserves or comarcas in Darién Province: the Wargandi and Emberá-Wounaan. These parts of the region have long faced threats from extractive industries such as logging, and the indigenous communities that live in these comarcas were lacking the expertise needed to sustainably manage their use of the forests for timber and agriculture. In fact, most of the timber used by major forest industries in Panama has historically come from unsustainable forest-harvesting operations — with more than 75 percent of timber coming from the Darién.

The project completed forest inventories, forest management plans, and environmental impact studies for the land located in Mortí and the Río Chico watershed. The indigenous community were trained in the layout of inventory lines, tree measuring, and basic use of GPS systems with a total of 429 community members—including 47 women—who were trained in topics related to biodiversity, sustainable forest management, business and organization.
Project Results:
  • Improved management capacity of 228,010 hectares in areas of biological significance to the Darién Province
  • Increased economic benefits derived from natural resources management and conservation for 2,847 people
  • Reduced green house gas emissions by 61,415 metric tons of CO2 equivalent
  • Sustainably harvested 2,600 hectares of forest areas under improved forest management plans

Read full results in the project's Final Report found here.

Project Links:

Project Duration: 2010 - 2013


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