By Christopher Springate
Objective of the project: protection and management of mangrove forests in the province of Chiriquí, in Panama, through greater participation of the local population and awareness of the ecological value of mangroves.
Project size: 13,800 hectares of mangrove forests - roughly the equivalent of 14,000 soccer fields.
Project partners: Wetlands International, United Nations Development Program (UNDP), Conservation International, Ministry of the Environment of Panama (MiAmbiente).
Biodiversity: The mangroves of Panama provide a protected area for many species of plants and animals, including 128 birds, many types of fish, crustaceans and amphibians, as well as 10 varieties of bats.
Budget: 2,468,320 euros through the International Climate Protection Initiative (IKI, in its initials in German).
The mangroves of Panama play a crucial role in the fight against global warming, as they absorb and store billions of tons of CO2. They also protect against coastal erosion and storm surges, and provide a safe haven for many species of plants and animals. But now, this vulnerable ecosystem is under threat.
Since the 1970s, Panama has lost more than half of its mangrove forests. Thousands of hectares have disappeared to make way for housing blocks and grazing land. And the so-called "cascareros" - people who specialize in debarking red mangroves for the tanning industry - have also destroyed millions of trees. But, with international help, Panama is changing this trend. The Panamanian Ministry of the Environment is designing new ones. conservation rules and working closely with local people to preserve mangroves, including "Los Defensores del Manglar", a group of students who are committed to conserving this important ecosystem.