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Tuesday, September 02 2014 @ 02:47 AM EDT

Environmental Issues

The Republic of Panama is an environmentally friendly country, relatively speaking. The primary government agency responsible for protecting the environment is the Autoridad Nacional del Ambiente (ANAM) (National Environmental Authority). There are a handful of independent civic and non-governmental organizations - some more radical than others - which serve a role as watchdogs. There is always a need to balance progress and development against the mitigation of damages and the potential for environmental and ecological disasters, and objective observers believe Panama does a fairly good job of protecting the environment overall. However, the headlines are still filled with allegations of corruption - in which those same government officials who are supposed to be protecting the environment either take or ask for bribes to look the other way, approve projects or paperwork without property scrutiny, or what have you. Panama is still a place where the people with the most money can generally get away with anything they want, including damaging the environment. As always it comes down to the math, numbers, money, and making a quick buck.
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Environmental Police Seize Shipment Of Illegal Cocobolo Lumber

Environmental IssuesUnits of the National Police stopped an attempt to traffic illegal Cocobolo lumber from the port of Coquira, in the district of Chepo. (more)

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Illegal Fishing Boats Seized Off Of Panama's Pacific Coast

Environmental IssuesPanama's National Air Service (SENAN) seized three boats in the past 72 hours, for allegedly fishing illegally in the protected areas of the Pacific coast of Panama. (more)

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Campos de Pesé (Company) Charged In Water Pollution Case

Environmental IssuesThe Judge in the province of Herrera, Julisa Saturno, accepted yesterday the charges filed against the executives of the company Campos de Pesé for environmental crimes, and for crimes related to land use and public health, in the case of a chemical spill causing pollution in the La Villa river. (more)

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Hearing Will Be Held To File Charges In La Villa River Contamination Case

Environmental IssuesThis Thursday a hearing will be held, under the principles of the adversarial criminal system, the first formal hearing on the complaint of charges for alleged crimes against public health due to contamination of the La Villa river with atrazine. (more)

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River Pollution Leaves Thousands Without Drinking Water in Panama

Environmental IssuesThousands of Panamanians were left without drinking water on Friday, after a spill of a herbicide contaminated a major river in the interior. (more)

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Mirei Endara Will Review Vertikal's Environmental Impact Statement

Environmental IssuesThe next administrator of Panama's National Environmental Authority (ANAM), Mirei Endara, announced she would "review" the EIA approved for the Vertikal Corporation Inc., allowing them to build a marine viaduct to deliver jet fuel to the airplanes at the Tocumen International Airport. (more)

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New species of orchid discovered in Panama

Environmental IssuesWashington: US biologists have described a stunning new orchid species from a mountainous area in central Panama.

The Orchid family, contains the largest number of plant species in the world - up to 30,000, researchers said.

Katia Silvera, a postdoctoral scholar at the University of California, Riverside, stumbled upon the never-before-seen orchid while on a field trip in a mountainous area in central Panama eight years ago.

Unable to identify it, she contacted German Carnevali, a world authority on orchids.

The orchid turned out to be an unnamed species. So Carnevali recently named it after the Silveras: Lophiaris silverarum.

"Lophiaris" is the genus name, comprising about 40 species in the world.

Lophiaris silverarum is known to grow only in central Panama.

It is not known if it grows in other areas of Central America. The plant blooms only in November, the flowers lasting about a month.

It is not sold in the US because it is very rare and it reproduces very slowly.

Silvera said that because the Orchid Family is so large, there are many species that have not been found before. As a result, new orchid species are being named every year and the number is rising.

"The diversity of orchids is best seen in the tropics, where, unfortunately, habitat is being destroyed very fast," she said.

"As a result, we are rapidly losing the diversity of orchid species. Although there are many orchid species unnamed in nature, it is actually quite difficult to determine for sure that an orchid is unnamed. They are difficult to find and difficult to tell apart," said Silvera.

The Orchid Family contains the largest number of plant species in the world. They are the most collected group of plants by hobbyists.

Close to 30,000 known species exist worldwide; many remain undiscovered. Panama alone has about 1,100 known orchid species.

Orchids are unique in that the flower's female and male reproductive parts are fused together. An interesting aspect is that orchids can easily hybridise or cross.

As a result, some 300,000 orchid hybrids are man-made and commercially available to the public.

The finding was published in journal Phytotaxa.

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ANAM Seizes 13 Containers Full Of Illegal Cocobolo Wood

Environmental IssuesA total of 13 containers loaded with the highly prized "cocobolo" wood that were to being smuggled into Hong Kong and worth about $4 million in the Chinese market, were seized by the Customs authorities of Panama, an official said Tuesday.

The containers loaded with the wood, camouflaged on paper as scrap metal, were discovered on Monday the Port of Balboa, on the Pacific entrance of the Panama Canal, as revealed during a press conference by the Administrator of the National Environmental Authority (ANAM) Silvano Vergara.

The discovery of more than 200 cubic meters of logs of wood occurred after the ANAM received an anonymous complaint about the intention of removing them from the country disguised as scrap metal, reported to the entity by the National Authority customs (ANA), according to Vergara.

This case was handled by the Office of Environmental Crimes.

Several individuals as well as the company Hong Kong Scrap Metal Panama, who had managed the shipment of the supposed load of scrap metal, are under investigation by the authorities.

So far this year Panamanian authorities have seized more than 500 cubic meters of wood.

In addition to this case there are another 200 trucks of wood that are being processed in the office of the prosecutor, said Vergara, who said the numbers of these types of seizures are increasing.

He said during 2013 they seized more than 700 cubic meters of this endangered precious wood, most of which was being transported to China, which is its main market.

Vergara said that is a "palatable criminal activity" for illegal loggers, so he said they are coordinating their efforts with other security agencies in the country, as well as Interpol, to prosecute these crimes.

He explained that although the logging of cocobolo is not prohibited but rather regulated.

The illegal logging of cocobolo always harms the environment, and there have even been instances of assaults with firearms against officers and rangers.

The marketing of this wood is allowed by the indigenous communities that have management plans for proper operation, allowing them to benefit from its profits for projects of their populations, said Vergara.

In Panama, the indigenous Embera Wounaan use it to make crafts.

The "cocobolo" is a very hard wood that can not be processed in Panama and is generally used in the manufacture of panels in luxury cars and for making fine furniture.

The ANAM regulates the logging of "cocobolo" in their species Dalbergia retusa and Dalbergia darienensis.

Penalties for violations of this regulation range from $6,000 to $50,000 in fines along with a sentence of three years in prison.

"Cocobolo" trees grow more than 20 meters high, and they can be found in the sectors of Chimán, east of the capital, and in the Darien jungle province bordering Colombia , where loggers operating in both areas jostle the precious wood.

A board foot of "cocobolo" sells for between $60 to $80 abroad, with China appearing as one of the main buyers. (Telemetro)

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ANAM Confiscates Illegal Wood

Environmental IssuesMore than 80 pieces of tree trunks (logs) of Cocobolo and Kira were found on private land in the districts of La Pintada and Penonomé, and although so far there have been no arrests for this environmental crime, the authorities have a suspect and the investigation has started.

The wood was found at Cañaveral in Otoal, and in El Potrero of La Pintada on rented land, so it is being investigated to see if these people are repeat offenders in the crime of illegally cutting protected species, logging, and the timber trade.

The wood was confiscated by ANAM which will later be auctioned, while the complaint will be filed with the Public Ministry to continue with the legal proceedings. (TVN)

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Illegal export of Cocobolo

Environmental IssuesThe National Environmental Authority (ANAM ) informed Interpol Panama, on 30 December, of the existence of eight suspected counterfeit permits for the export of cocobolo wood to China and Taiwan.

The alert was sent through a note signed by Ibelice Añino , Director of Protected Areas and Wildlife of the entity, explaining that in 2012 six permits were issued, and only two last year (2013.)

Two of the companies linked to the alleged false permits are owned by Alfredo Perez, who has been linked to five criminal charges for irregularities in the movement, permits, and export permits of cocobolo wood in Chepo.

In one of the cases, the Third Anti-Corruption Prosecutor called for Perez to be brought to trial.

Perez is a political candidate who is running for a position as a Deputy in the National Assembly to represent Chepo for the Democratic Revolutionary Party (PRD).

On 15 October 2013, the Sixth Criminal Court denied a request for the five processes against him to be "accumulated" (combined.)

Perez's attorney Euldarín Asprilla, cataloged this as a political attack, saying they want to disable Perez as a candidate through the courts.

COMPLAINT

A criminal complaint was filed yesterday against ANAM officials, for having granted permissions for the uncontrolled logging of cocobolo trees.

Ricardo Renteria, the attorney who filed the complaint, said this activity which occurred in the area of the Darien, causes irreversible damage to the environment.

ANAM had no comment. (Prensa)

Editor's Comment: Cocobolo is a very expensive and highly sought after tropical hardwood occurring naturally in the Panamanian rain forest. Like any activity where there's a lot of money to be made, the people doing the illegal activity have enough money to pay bribes to the people who are supposed to be stopping them.

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The Bio Museum Will Open Its Doors In February

Environmental IssuesThe Biodiversity Museum or Bio-museum located in Amador will open its doors on February 2014.

This was confirmed by the coordinator of the Bio-museum, Margot López, who said the Museum will probably operate between 9 a.m. and 3:30 p.m.

She also said the prices will be different: foreigners will pay $21, locals $12, retired citizens and children $6 and students can go for free as long as they have their student ID.

They estimate they will receive approximately 1,500 people per day, which represents 20 people per minute.

The gallery is related to biodiversity and the formation of Panama over 3 million years ago.

Today, the CAF donated $118 thousand for equipment, education rooms for the audience and the construction of the botanical park, besides training for the tour guides. (TVN)

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New Animal Species Were Discovered In Donoso

Environmental IssuesAn investigation sponsored by a mining company from Canada which is currently developing a copper mine in the Mesoamerican Biological Corridor in the Caribbean area of Panama, reported an inventory of species, some of them are even new.

"After several years of investigation, the company Minera Panama made the first fauna inventory in the Donoso forests, a document supported by the National Environment Authority (ANAM), which will contribute for locals and foreigners to know more about the rich biodiversity in the area,” says the statement.

The book, called “Discovering the Fauna of Donoso,” part of the Mesoamerican Biological Corridor, talks about 32 species of amphibian, reptiles, birds and butterflies with pictures of them taken in their natural environment.

The book provides “a close look to a wonderful world that most ignore and Minera Panama must protect and inform about the invaluable rich wildlife of our national heritage.”

The firm is a subsidiary from the Canadian company First Quantum Minerals, which is investing $6 billion in the mining project covering 5,000 hectares of Donoso, located in Colon.

The concession of this project has been criticized by environmental groups for decades, who believe this will cause irreparable damage to the environment due to the deforestation and the risk of contamination of rivers and groundwater, after they start extracting copper, a project that will start on 2016.

The Canadian firm says their commitment is “invest part of their resources in scientific investigation in Donoso” which is why they have started an Action Plant for Biodiversity, including the rescue and preservation of animal and plant species from the area.

The statement does not mention the new species that were discovered. (Critica)

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Increasingly Destructive Hurricanes Attributed to Climate Change, Greater Population Density

Environmental Issues

Editor's Comment: I posted this article specifically to demonstrate how unbelievably stupid people can be sometimes - especially when they want to try to twist truth and facts to support their preconceived conclusions. You'll see what I mean in a minute. (My comments end, article begins.)

Climatologist DeWayne Cecil, PhD reports on climate change, hurricanes and typhoons on the Sharon Kleyne Hour, hosted by Bio Logic Aqua Founder.

Grants Pass, OR (PRWEB) December 05, 2013

There is evidence that highly destructive weather events, such as Hurricane Sandy and the recent Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines, are becoming stronger and more frequent.

There is also evidence, according to Climatologist DeWayne Cecil, PhD, speaking on the Sharon Kleyne Hour Power of Water® radio show, that at least some of the increased destruction is due to a burgeoning and increasingly dense and urban human population with greatly increased infrastructure. In other words, says Cecil, there is more to destroy than there was 20 to 50 years ago.

DeWayne Cecil, PhD, has had a distinguished career as a Climatologist in academic, government and private research. He has been employed as a researcher for the USGS Water Resources Discipline, the NASA Earth Observation Satellite program, Director of NOAA’a Western Region Climate Services and most recently, Chief Climatologist for Global Science and Technology, Inc.

Sharon Kleyne hosts the globally syndicated Sharon Kleyne Hour Power of Water® radio show on VoiceAmerica and Apple iTunes. Kleyne is Founder of Bio Logic Aqua Research, which specializes in research, education, technology, and product development in the areas of fresh water, atmospheric vapor and human health. Nature’s Tears® EyeMist®, the company’s global signature product, provides a pure fresh water mist to instantly supplement lost water in eyes and skin due to dehydration from increasingly dry and polluted air.

According to Dr. Cecil, recent scientific data definitely reflects a warming trend in the atmosphere and an increase in the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide. The reason for the warmer temperatures is that the increase in greenhouse gases causes more heat from the sun to be trapped in the atmosphere rather than be reflected back into space. There is also some evidence, Dr. Cecil notes, that the most abundant greenhouse gas, water vapor, is diminishing slightly in the upper atmosphere.

More heat in the atmosphere, according to Dr. Cecil, equals more energy in the atmosphere. One result of greater heat and energy in the atmosphere is stronger and more frequent weather events such as tornadoes, hurricanes, cyclones and typhoons.

Dr. Cecil points out that the recent global warming trend and the apparent increase in violent weather events may be partly human caused but may also be part of a normal cyclical pattern. Cecil stresses that it cannot be definitively concluded or disproved that Hurricane Sandy or Typhoon Haiyan were caused by global warming.

Either way, Cecil concludes, humans should place a high priority on attempting to rebalance our atmospheric energy and reduce excess accumulation of greenhouse gases. And humans should definitely increase their preparedness for major weather events.

Dr. Cecil can state for certain that the human population is rapidly increasing and becoming more urbanized, and that human infrastructure – roads and buildings - is growing proportionately. Since 60% of the world population lives near an oceans, and since hurricanes, typhoons and cyclones form over warm tropical oceans, there is definitely much more to be destroyed that there was 20 to 50 years ago.

The recent history of Panama City, Panama, according to Sharon Kleyne, is illustrative. Since 1950, the population of Panama has quadrupled. Since the 1970’s, Panama City has been constructing high-rise buildings near the ocean to accommodate a surging population and a global banking economy. There are now over 200 high-rise buildings. As a result, a hurricane in Panama City in 2013 would be infinitely more destructive than in 1950.

Dr. Cecil was interviewed by Sharon Kleyne on the Sharon Kleyne Hour Power of Water® radio show of November 25, 2013. The interview may be heard via podcast at http://www.VoiceAmerica.com or http://www.sharonkleynehour.com/. Live shows air on Mondays at 10:00 a.m. PST.

Editor's Comment (2): Hurricanes don't hit Panama. The moron who used the explosive growth of Panama City as a harbinger of doom - "As a result, a hurricane in Panama City in 2013 would be infinitely more destructive than in 1950..." - is technically right because there are more people in Panama City. However take a look at these graphics I obtained from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), of Historical Hurricane Tracks, which you can see for yourself by visiting this link -

Here's the overview, with each line indicating the track taken by an individual hurricane. This graphic represents all of the historical data held by the National Hurricane Center.

This second image is zoomed in on our "neighborhood" near Panama. As you can see, there have been hurricanes that have originated just North of Panama, but no hurricanes have struck Panama.

The obvious conclusion should be - Don't make any assumptions as to the validity of information being put forward by NPR or anyone with a "PhD" after their name. Many times they forget to check the really simple shit first. So yeah, there might be more hurricanes. So how do these same experts explain away this year's historically low level of Atlantic hurricane activity? And once again, none of it hit Panama. More people, or not...

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Report: Unreported trade of bluefin tuna

Environmental IssuesA new WWF study has found that between 2000 and 2010 the equivalent of 18,704 tons of live bluefin tuna were traded via Panama without being reported to the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT).

The report claims that besides Panama, Mediterranean countries including Spain, Italy, Morocco, Tunisia and Turkey were involved, as well as Japan.

WWF is calling on ICCAT and the concerned countries to urgently investigate further. All involved countries mentioned in the study were ICCAT Contracting Parties at the time the unreported trade operations were detected. According to ICCAT rules in force during all the study period, any international trade of Atlantic bluefin tuna had to be duly reported, to enable cross-checking with catch quotas.

“This is the first ever study on this issue and it probably shows only the tip of the iceberg. We finally managed to get the proof of a situation that has been acknowledged for many years even by ICCAT itself”, said Sergi Tudela, head of WWF Mediterranean Fisheries Program.

Based on official trade and customs databases, it has been revealed that over a decade as much as 14,327 tons of processed Atlantic bluefin was traded via Panama. This volume of trade corresponds to an estimated weight of 18,704 tons of live fish.

Bluefin tuna has been exported to Panama from Mediterranean countries including Spain, Italy, Morocco, Tunisia and Turkey and Panama, in turn, re-exported to Japan as much as 13,730 tons of processed bluefin.

“According to available records, not a single shipment identified by the report was ever reported to ICCAT,” added Tudela. “If confirmed, it would fully qualify as illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing according to the United Nations’ FAO standards and would equal environmental crime." (worldfishing.net)

Editor's Comment: Panama does not adequately protect its marine resources.

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Citizens Report The Violation Of A Tourism Law That Forbids Any Changes To The Causeway

Environmental IssuesThe members of the Association of communities of areas of the Panama Canal requested the National Environment Authority (ANAM) information about the expansion of the Causeway in Amador.

They say a Tourism law is being violated which forbids any changes to this zone.

In this regard, they requested the ANAM to inform them about the environmental impact studies of the expansion of the Causeway in Amador and other projects that are currently under construction in this area.

At the same time, the members of the Association do not rule out the possibility of a lawsuit and said certain regulations are being violated.

The development plan of Amador was modified in 2012, under the current administration in which one of the changes was to allow land fills for green areas. (TVN)

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Experts Are Analyzing In Panama The Use Of Renewable Energies In Panama

Environmental IssuesThe XXII Regional Forum of the Energy and Environment Partnership of Central America (AEA) was inaugurated in Panama with the participation of experts in renewable energy.

This forum represents the opportunity of establishing a meeting point between renewable energy project developers, investors, financial institutions, representatives of private enterprises in the region and Europe, among others.

During the inauguration, the Secretary General of the SICA, Hugo Roger, talked about the importance of the use of energies in the promotion of renewable energies in the region.

On the other hand, Gerardo González from the National Environment Authority (Anam) said Panama has adopted strategies and has managed to promote the use of renewable energies in different populations.

Panama has developed around 24 projects through the alliance. And in the entire region there have been a total of280 projects with an Investment of 20 million dollars, which represents 40 million dollars including the Investment of the developers.

During this activity the participants will discuss several topics related to the benefit of these energies with the purpose of depending less on fossil fuels. (Panama America)

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A Complaint Was Filed Against The Director Of The ANAM

Environmental IssuesThe lawyer Juan Sevilla Callejas filed a complaint before the Public Prosecutor against the administrator of the National Environment Authority, Silvano Vergara, for not complying with his duties as a public official.

Sevilla Callejas said Vergara, as the director of the ANAM, has not done anything to avoid the land invasions at the Biological Corridor of Serranía del Bagre which is a natural forest strip of 30 thousand hectares connecting the National Park of Darien with the Natural Reserve Punta Patiño.

The lawyer said these squatters have caused the deforestation of several hectares of lands at this forest strip, affecting rivers and other water sources of nearby communities. (Critica)

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The United States Will Remove Unexploded Chemical Weapons Left In An Island In Panama

Environmental IssuesThe United States will remove an undisclosed amount of unexploded “bombs and chemical munitions” abandoned at the Panamanian island of the Pacific during the last century, through an operation that will start by the end of 2013, according to the Foreign Ministry of Panama, Fernando Núñez Fábrega.

"Cleaning the field includes disarming the bombs and chemical munitions, and it will start before this year is over, finalizing a dispute that emerged after WWII was over,” said Núñez Fabrega through a statement.

The operation “will be conducted by experts from the Pentagon, who will be traveling to Panama soon to understand the situation of the operation they will carry out,” said the Panamanian Minister.

The chemical “bombs and munitions” are located in the San José Island, in the Pacific shore, and according to information published by a local newspaper they were left there between the decades of 1930 and 1970 by the Army of the United States.

They have not officially disclosed what type of chemical weapons are located in this island, but according to several newspapers, these are phosgene and mustard gas bombs used in a protection program of the Panama Canal and in experiments to understand the behavior of these chemicals in tropical areas.

"The armies of the United States, United Kingdom and Canada dropped millions of chemical weapons in the San José Island anticipating its use in the invasion of Japan,” said the Foreign Minister.

The removal of these chemical weapons from San José Island was discussed many times during the last century through negotiations with no results and was finally stuck in 2003.

The general director of Counter-Terrorism Analysis, Tomás Cabal, and the Panamanian Ambassador in the Netherlands, José Terán, had a meeting at La Haya in April with representatives of the Department of State and the Pentagon to solve the issues that had paralyzed the negotiations, according to official information.

The parties reached “an agreement, after negotiations of the highest level, and it finally put an end to an extended dispute that lasted over 70 years,” said the Foreign Ministry Núñez Fabrega.

He said the removal of these bombs “will take Panama off the list issued by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) of countries who have this type of unexploded weapons.”

"The agreement (with the United States) ratified by the Panamanian Foreign Ministry was negotiated in the middle of the whole situation in Syria after they used chemical weapons,” said the Minister.

The newspaper Panama America published that the United States refused to remove the chemical bombs from the Panamanian island, which belongs to the archipelago Las Perlas and near Contadora.

The United States even offered President Mireya Moscoso (1999-2004) assessment and financing so Panama could conduct this task in exchange of exempting the United States from paying future compensation, according to the reports.

The same source said the environmental organization from the U.S. Fellowship of Reconciliation "says the United States left thousands of chemical bombs in Panama.” (Telemetro)

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September: Great Month For Whale Watching In Panama

Environmental IssuesEvery year during June and October dozens of humpback whales run away from cold waters and look for shelter in the warm waters of the Panamanian Pacific as part of their migratory and reproduction process.

Whales and their calves are seen gracefully and comfortably dancing in the Pacific waters in Panama and Isla de Coiba in Veraguas, which is home for these cetacean creatures.

Whales travel headed by females, who are normally together with their offspring, they usually travel in small groups of up to ten whales, and from all mammals they travel the longest during their migration process.

Female humpback whales can measure up to 19 meters long, while males usually measure up to 15 meters. They usually weigh up to 65 tons and live for approximately 50 years, according to experts and tourism guides who know about whale watching.

It’s beautiful listening to male whales when they make a very particular sound. This is their song to court the females. They show acrobatic behaviors like jumping, slapping their tail, and flapping their fins against the water.

The best areas for whale watching in Panama are Isla de Coiba, Taboga and the Archipelago of Las Perlas. They can also be seen at the Gulf of Chiriqui, Isla Iguana in Los Santos and Panama Bay.

For whale watching there are several organizations and travel agencies offering special tours for this type of activity. (Estrella)

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The Background Of The Oil Business In Panama

Environmental IssuesThe Panamanian economy developed with a perspective of real estate service and investment has been changing in the last years looking for new markets through purely polluting activities. It might be a surprise to some, but not so much for others, but the line according to this Government is natural gas and hydrocarbons.

Law 53 reminds us of how the Government allows exploration and exploitation of strategic minerals in the country at ridiculous costs and earnings such as paying $0.25 per hectare annually to carry out onshore and deep water explorations and $5 per hectare per year during the exploitation stage.

With these politics to “promote” and “regulate” exploration and exploitation activities of deposits of oil, natural asphalt, natural gas, and other hydrocarbons in Panama, is inevitable to think about the role of the Government through the weak institutions we have and the lack of control to enforce Panamanian laws on environmental issues.

What’s even more concerning is to observe how we have been losing territory to give it to foreign capital, and national capital in some cases, for developing different activities using certain procedures to make it seem legal and as if these industries have social and environmental responsibility; proof of this is the existence of deposits of oil in Darien according to the geological study conducted by the company OTS Latin America LLC hand in hand with the approval of Law 53.

This is evidence of the lack of coherence between economic and environmental politics; it is clear there will no longer be a national park, indigenous people or territories, or international agreements or treaties that could define this type of investment previous to its approval by the authorities who apparently suffer from ecological ignorance.

As citizens we can think of the different options we have to strengthen and promote agriculture as the priority of food safety and sovereignty of the country by prioritizing human development and avoiding extractive activities that generate non-internalized social (displacement of people) and environmental (pollution) expenses, which at the end comes out of our own pockets. (Estrella)

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Conservation Program Allowed The Birth Of 135 Hawksbill Sea Turtles

Environmental IssuesThe conservation of endangered species of sea turtles has been supported by several organizations, which have done a great job in preserving these species.

In Donoso, Colon, 135 hawksbill turtles were born, specifically in Playa Rincón, thanks to the surveillance and protection of a nest by a group of marine biologists from the company Minera Panama. Also, 35 turtles were found in San Roque.

These species were protected until they hatched and were released in the shore. Currently, Minera Panama is supporting the Project of Conservation and Surveillance of Sea Turtles with technology and financially speaking as well.

The Director of Corporate and Environmental Issues of this company, Alberto Casas, said the turtles were counted, measured and released in the sea so they could continue with their normal life cycle.

Since the nest was detected, they started conducting the necessary mechanisms to keep these species safe during all of their phases, according to Casas, Minera Panama in their Socio-Environmental Impact Study have established plans and projects focused on maintaining a positive balance in Biodiversity in Donoso.

Currently, hawksbill sea turtles are in critical danger of extinction. Hunters roam around their nests to do crafts with their shells and eat their meat; also, polluted waters, unplanned fishing and coastal projects affect their lifespan. (Telemetro)

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Protected Area In Darien Is Being Sold

Environmental IssuesThe Serranía Bagre in Darien declared a biosphere reserve by UNESCO and a biological corridor is being sold and devastated by politicians who are managing possessory rights and property titles on this zone.

Between invasions and sold and parceled lands there are over one thousand hectares with owners –according to the calculations made by the neighbors of the area– who have destroyed the forest for crop cultivation and cattle raising.

One of the identified sellers is Milciades Araúz, who was running for Mayor in the Democratic Change (CD) in Chepigana, Darien.

For less than $300, Araúz sells each hectare in this zone of inestimable environmental value and assures that he guarantees its certification.

Araúz was the running mate and supporter of María Sugey Blanco –who wanted to be deputy for the CD–, the current director of the National Authority of Land Administration (Anati) in Darién. She was also the director of the National Environment Authority (ANAM) from 2010 to 2011.

The Anam investigated Araúz for invasion in Bagre, during the management of Blanco, but it had no repercussions on him: he and his relatives occupy lands, claim rights, offer them and multiply the lots.

The complaints started four years ago. In the Public Prosecutor there is a file in which officials from the Anati and Anam are mentioned due to complicity. (Prensa)

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Environmentalists Report Project Aimed To Dissolve The ANAM

Environmental IssuesThe environmentalists Raisa Banfield and Antonio Chang reported the government because they are allegedly creating a project to unprotect and dissolve the functions of the National Authority for the Environment (ANAM) and the Aquatic Resources Authority (ARAP).

According to Banfield the authorities behind everything are looking to pass the operation of the institutions to the Vice Minister of the Agricultural Development Ministry (MIDA), a ministry qualified as unprotected and inoperative by the environmentalists.

“By moving the ANAM to the MIDA, we confirm the regression on the environmental issue, which is not a big concern to the government, and we base this on how they have neglected mangroves from Panama Bay and how they constantly sell lands to make big projects,” said Banfield.

Meanwhile, Chang said this measure decentralizes the use of natural resources, unprotecting them. Environmentalists said with the use of ethanol, sold as a project aimed to help the environment, they can end up cutting trees, because the ANAM will not have the same strength to defend natural resources and protected areas.

Chang and Banfield agree the environment is turning into a political matter, which is why they requested the authorities to respect and strengthen the functions of the ANAM. (Estrella)

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Whales Come All The Way To Panama To Give Birth

Environmental Issues"I created the first version of the whale watching map in the world at an Internet Cafe. I grabbed a map and since I knew about the areas for whale watching in Panama, I came up with the idea of drawing a "tail" in these areas. This first map was published in 2003 and it was the first version in the world," explained Gabriel Despaigne, president of the Green Association of Panama.

According to the ecologist, in 2002 they created a strategy to remove Panama from their alignment with countries dedicated to hunting whales, in order to turn it into a conservationist country. Three important points were established: Removing Panama from their alignment with Japan, manage to declare Panamanian waters as a Whale Sanctuary and promoting whales as a flagship species for environmental protection. For this, they had to promote whale watching. “By promoting whale watching we can raise awareness among the population to preserve the species and also boost economy in coastal and marine populations who suffer from extreme poverty,” said Despaigne.

Whale watching receives approximately $2 million per year in the world and it has a 12% growth, which is why it is important that the world knows that Panama supports the activity with a map.

However, there is a lot to do, according to the researcher, and said they haven’t managed to make the Government (at least this administration) promote the final stages to finish this map.

“We are trying to receive the support for the marine corridor in Panama for the protection of marine mammals in our next meeting on September 2. We need the support from the Authority of Aquatic Resources in Panama, the National Environment Authority and other government institutions such as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which is related to the International Whaling Commission.”

The important thing is to “gather efforts to complete the different stages of the map so Panama can promote international stages of this map.”

THEY ARE “PANAMANIAN”

You can say that “whales are Panamanian,” because they come to the warm waters of our country to give birth to their offspring. “They are born without a fat layer necessary to stand cold temperatures in polar waters. They would die from cold if they are born there,” he said.

Whales travel from polar areas to Panama to give birth and breastfeed for 8 or 9 months, which is the time it takes for them to develop this fat layer, and then they go back to polar waters.

“Panama waters are an important part in the development of whales because they give birth here, they teach them how to swim and they also mate.” Studies from the Smithsonian have proved a genetic Exchange between the whales from the north and the south in Panama, because whales come together with their partner.

THREATS

Water pollution, together with climate change, are one of the threats that might affect the areas where these mammals reproduce, besides the impact caused by the navigation of the ships that go through the Panama Canal. In this sense, the Smithsonian is working with the Panama Canal Authority to define navigation routes with the purpose of creating conditions and inform these ships about the speed they must travel at to avoid going through areas where the whales are located. (Estrella)

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First Wind Turbine Is Installed At The Wind Farm In Penonome

Environmental IssuesOn Monday August 5, the first wind turbine was installed at the Wind Farm in Panama, located in Penonome, Cocle.

The total of wind turbines is 88 from the brand Goldwind, which will be installed with the purpose of strengthening and increasing the security of the electric system of the country.

The investment for this project is approximately $450 million and will allow the generation of 220 MW of clean energy that will provide electricity to over 100 Panamanian families, according to the Panamanian Wind Union (UEP), in charge of this project.

The ceremony event was attended by President Ricardo Martinelli, who talked about how important the project was to reduce the cost of energy.

The Wind Farm in Penonome is the first project of this kind in Panama, and will be the biggest project all across Central America, turning Panama into the leader of wind energy in the region, and the project will start operating in 2014.

75% of the energy of the wind farm in Penonome will be generated during the months of the dry season between December and May. (Panama America)

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UN Says The Exploitation Of Natural Resources Must Be Discussed With The Indigenous People First

Environmental IssuesThe special rapporteur from the UN, James Anaya, said on Friday that any natural resources exploitation intended to be carried out in indigenous regions must be discussed with the indigenous people first.

Anaya’s statement refers to the hydroelectric project Barro Blanco, which is being developed in the Tabasara River, within the Ngäbe-Buglé region.

Anaya urged the Ngäbe-Buglé people and the Government to talk about this issue; however, he questioned the fact that the Government had granted this concession for the construction of the hydroelectric project without consulting the indigenous people about the project, and this is established in the international laws related to the rights of the indigenous people.

“Any exploitation of natural resources in indigenous regions must be consulted with the indigenous people,” said Anaya during a press conference.

He said the Government as well as the company in charge of this project (Genisa) has the responsibility of respecting and protecting the rights of the Ngäbes.

In this sense, he said the Government must strengthen and work in implementing public policies in favor of the indigenous people, abiding with the international standards.

He said this after the implementation of a comprehensive plan of development and the consensus’ agreement to the 939 convention, said Anaya, who toured the different indigenous regions of the country.

DIVISION WITHIN THE REGION

Celio Guerra, president of the General Congress Ngäbe-Buglé, rejected Anaya’s recommendations and reported there is a division within the region created by the Government of the President Ricardo Martinelli after he insisted in interfering with their internal affairs.

According to Guerra, they have named new delegates, parallel congresses, and chiefs with the support of the Government, and such is the case of the chief Silvia Carrera. He said they have done this to negotiate agreements that are “harmful” to the interests of the indigenous people.

Among these agreements he mentioned Law 11 from March 26, 2012, which allowed and legalized the hydroelectric project Barro Blanco, which according to Guerra, was settled with the support of Carrera.

“We don’t want further government interference in our internal affairs,” he said. Contrary to what Guerra said, the chief Silvia Carrera said she has allowed the participation of the people in the conversations she has had with the authorities.

Also, he reported the eviction of the indigenous people from their lands by the company GENISA, in charge of the project Barro Blanco, which is why he requested the Government once again to suspend this project. (Prensa)

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APEDE Requests The Enforcement Of Environmental Laws

Environmental IssuesPanama is one of the leaders in Latin America regarding economic growth rate and is considered a business hub; however, Panama has a big pending tasks, which is protecting its biodiversity and ensuring the environmental laws are met, according to the Panamanian Association of Business Executives (APEDE).

Roberto Troncoso, president of APEDE, said the companies and the government must understand business opportunities must go hand in hand with the environment protection.

Environmentalists and businessmen agreed mother nature is knocking on our doors to ask for a balance between development and environmental management to avoid flooding and landslides, thus reducing the risks of tragedies. (TVN)

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Wind Blades And Control Tower For The Wind Farm Arrives At Cocle

Environmental IssuesThe first set of wind turbines of the wind farm arrived in the city of Penonomé during the early hours of Saturday.

The cargo was moved on special platforms used to move a wind turbine with three blades (52 meters) and a control tower of 90 meters high.

The project from the company “Unión Eólica” has a cost of $440 million.

The wind farm will supply more than 100 thousand families nationwide. (Siglo)

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The Big Tree From The Barro Colorado Island In Panama Fell Down

Environmental IssuesThe Kapok (Ceiba pentandra – also known as the Big Tree) the tree with the largest crown in the world (60 meters in diameter at the crown), fell due to natural causes in the Barro Colorado Island (IBC), near the Panama Canal, according to the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI).

Through its institutional electronic portal, the STRI recorded the fact and stated: "This was the biggest crown with a single stem known on the planet."

The trunk of the tree is still standing in the center of a huge clearing, where the ground is covered with leaves and vines. The IBC is located in Gatun Lake, which was formed after the river Chagres was dammed, during the construction of the canal in the twentieth century.

STRI staff scientist Joe Wright, who plans to take a core from the main stem to estimate the age of the tree, asked Robert Van Pelt, an adjunct professor at the Institute for Redwood Ecology at Humboldt State University, to comment on BCI’s emblematic tree stature, which held the world record for largest crown.

Pelt said, "This was by far the largest crown known on the planet for a tree with a single stem. There are several banyans in India and elsewhere larger than this, but none with a single stem.”

"The very large base was 13 m in one direction, tapering to a 2 m cylindrical trunk above the buttressing; ending in a wide crown whose highest leaf reached 47 m."

He also said “what was most remarkable about the BCI tree was the crown spread, which based on 8 crown radii, averaged 60m in diameter.”

The Kapok was home to epiphytic orchids and cacti, bromeliads and Spanish moss, as well as sloths, monkeys, bats and birds, and it was the background for more group photos than any other location in the island, which is currently visited by many scientists from all over the world. (TVN)

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Educating Panama About Recycling Will Take Some Time

Environmental IssuesIn the Coastal Beltway you can see different trash cans classified for recycling, however, this waste is treated like the rest, without going through a special process.

Enrique Ho, manager of the Authority of Garbage Collection (AAUD) explained recycling has not really started in the country but he is aware of this and knows they must educate the citizens and this will take some time until it actually happens.

He also said people do not respect the distribution of waste marked in the trash cans for metal, paper or plastics, this is why they are beginning to educate students in elementary schools and creating groups to carry out this task.

"We have talked with some of the recycling companies; some of them want to see how we can use the different platforms to make it more visible. However, we do not want to get into so much stuff at the same time when we still need to solve the issue on garbage collection in the city," said Ho.

Cerro Patacón

After the fire in Cerro Patacón, which caused several situations through its surrounding areas and in the entire city, Ho said "all is well" in the Cerro Patacón landfill and the third phase of the landfill has already been started by the company Urbalia. S.A.

He also said they reached an agreement with Guna Nega who refused this third stage, however, according to Ho, the landfill is "working perfectly fine in every aspect." (Panama America)

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