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Thursday, June 20 2019 @ 12:13 PM UTC

Wood From The Cocobolo Tree - Highly Desired

Environmental IssuesApple of discord. An environment where there were no problems and everyone worked together to live better, was the one that existed in the regions of Wargandí and Embera-Wounaan, in the province of Darien, communities where today the extraction and marketing of wood from the cocobolo tree is causing conflicting people to face off, and greed has become the goddess of the province. The driver of a tractor identified as Ezequiel Batista and an Indian named Aquilino Opúa were killed and others were wounded in clashes between natives and loggers in Platanares and Chimán last Friday, as they tried to burn the machinery used to cut cocobolo timber.

It is taken illegally - The situation is no different in Morti, because while the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), a nongovernmental organization, is trying to help the indigenous people to progress with a community forestry program, selling species of trees that are marketed legally, residents complain that other companies are cutting down cocobolo trees in the region, selling 1 foot of wood for $8 dollars, without permits, where some 8,000 trees have already been cut down, and $20,000 dollars per week is being paid to the community of Kuna-Wargandí for them to allow this activity, because there are no environmental impact studies.

Villagers say the logging trucks from from 8:00 pm from Mortí until 5:00 am, carrying cocobolo logs, and then they are put higher up to disguise the illegally. They say the National Environmental Authority (ANAM) is aware of this and does nothing. Faced with this accusation, this newspaper tried to get the version of the institution, but it was not possible.

Wood from the cocobolo tree is highly valued for its hardness, color and sound, it is widely used for flooring and furniture, although from Panama it is exported abroad.

The manager of International Woodwork, Joaquin Zhang, who invests to extract lumber legally from Morti, Darien, says with the sale of the wood they are taking advantage of a natural resource and the activity does not cause harm to the environment, using regeneration. At the same time the community receives an income for progress, and he has signed a contract for 25 years with the village, where they pay $50,000 in all that time which should be used for social work. Zhang is concerned, because some people are engaging in illegal logging of cocobolo, there are no conservation programs, and they are not leaving behind benefits for the people.

On 29 March 2012 the State Border Service (SENAFRONT) and the ANAM, during an operation in Santa Fe, seized two trucks with cocobolo trees. The Forestry Engineer for the ANAM in the Darien, Alvin Rodriguez, said the drivers will have to provide statements, because they were carrying 38 cocobolo stumps, and there are those who receive permits, but use them differently. (Dia a Dia)

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