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Tuesday, November 20 2018 @ 02:18 PM UTC

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Oil Spill in Bocas del Toro

Environmental IssuesAn oil spill occurred in the early hours of yesterday at the mouth of Margarita creek in the district of Chiriqui Grande in Bocas del Toro. It is unknown the exact amount of oil that ended in the ravine and the sea. Unofficial data speaks of 100 barrels dumped a few meters from the premises of Petroterminal of Panama, SA (PTP). When we visited the site we saw a contingency crew from the company had controlled the spill. El Siglo tried to obtain a statement from the authorities of the AMP, but we were informed they were not authorized to make statements on the subject. (Siglo)

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Residents of Ancon Protesting Plans To Build Parking Garage For Supreme Court

Environmental IssuesResidents of Ancon are on alert over plans to cut down 40 trees and 10 royal palms to build a parking lot for the Supreme Court. One inhabitant said the construction of parking for the Court would destroy the harmony of the environment. Raisa Banfield asked the President of the Supreme Court Moncada Luna through her Twitter account to sit down to talk. While today July 9, the leader of the Democratic Revolutionary Party, Balbina Herrera, joined the residents, saying there are alternatives, and asking for the trees not to be cut down. Herrera said the parking lots can be built underground. (Estrella)

Editor's Comment: I've had to go to the Supreme Court building dozens, if not hundreds of times. There's never any place to park. It's a nightmare, and usually I have to get "creative" with my Jeep and park it somewhere sedans can't travel. So I say screw those 40 trees - chop those puppies down and plant 300 somewhere else to make up for the environmental sin of having to make room for progress. Someone should remind these "tree huggers" that 100 years ago - where their houses are built - it was all nothing but virgin jungle that had never been cut. So, let's protest to advocate bulldozing their houses in Ancon and to replant the trees there. I mean, it's only been 100 years, right? It's not too late to return the "environment" to it's natural state. We can bring in some more critters, too - it'll be great! The hypocrisy of these people drives me nuts.

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Ancon Residents Upset Over Loss of Trees Near Supreme Court Building

Environmental IssuesResidents of the area of Ancon Cove have been protesting since the early morning hous in the area of the headquarters of the Supreme Court of Justice, expressing their displeasure over the cutting down of 40 trees and 10 palms in the area. Workers from the Corsione Group arrived and started to erect the screens and fencing at the site for the construction of a new parking garage. Members of the National Police (PN) from the Canal Zone substation are guarding the area. There are an estimated four patrol vehicles and more than a dozen police officers. According to Balbina Herrera, this is a provocation and there was no public consultation for the felling of these trees. Through a project of the Judicial Branch, they will begin construction of a new parking garage located in an area measuring ​​2,784 square meters, were the trees are (were) located. (Panama America)

Editor's Comment: Balbina Herrera, tree hugger? Give me a friggin' break. This is the woman who told the residents of Clayton to "pound sand" as she authorized the construction of high rise buildings as the former Minister of Housing under the Torrijos administration, in an area where previously building heights had been restricted, over the protests of residents about environmental concerns. And now I'm sure Raisa Banfield is right there, shoulder to shoulder with her, crying over the loss of a couple of mango trees. Have you ever had to try to park at the Supreme Court building in order to attend a hearing or a trial? If you have, then you know it's often impossible to park there. I say Thank God they are finally going to fix this problem. Panamanian environmental law requires that two trees be planted (somewhere else) for every one you knock down to build something. So, in order to get their Environmental Impact Statement approved by the ANAM, the Corcione Group would have had to specify exactly what they were going to do to comply, and where these 100 trees were going to be planted. But of course the tree huggers fail to mention that. Whatever. Radicals of whatever stripe are funny to watch.

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Bay of Panama Sanitation Project 83% Advanced

Environmental IssuesThe project to clean up the Bay of Panama and Panama City has advanced by 83%, according to Tatiana De Janon, the general coordinator of the project, despite acknowledging there were some mishaps that were resolved along time.

The installation of the sanitary sewer, the collector (larger diameter pipes that collect waste water coming from households), the interceptor system (the tunnel) and the construction of the treatment plant, which should begin operating in early 2013 - are some of the advances that have been made at this stage of construction, said Janon.

She added the start of operations of the waste water treatment plant, and the process of cleaning up the Bay of Panama, also will start the operation of some other systems that have been constructed, such as the basins of the Matías Hernandez river, Río Abajo, Río Tocumen, Río Mataznillo, Río Juan Díaz and Río Tapia.

What's more, once the healing process begins, they will begin to execute the rest of the associated construction projects, in the rest of the areas of the capital city.

New Projects - The general coordinator of the sanitation project announced they are currently working on coordinating the construction of the second stage of the collectors, now in Juan Díaz y Curundú. "The designs of these systems are in their final stage, it is expected that next year these projects will have been tendered and their execution can also be carried out in 2013," said De Janon.

The first stage of the cleanup project, which is presently under construction, will start operating fully in 2015. The official's statements came during the technical workshop "Latin American Experiences In The Recovery Of Metropolitan Bays," in which there were experts from Panama and Brazil. (Prensa)

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Sea shepherd to send fleet to S. Korea

Environmental IssuesAnti-whaling group Sea Shepherd says it will expand its fleet to South Korea's coast to prevent whaling in the region. Ian Campbell, from the Sea Shepherd Advisory Board, says the Australian government's inaction on whaling has forced the group to extend its activities from Australian waters in Antarctica up to the coast of South Korea. South Korea announced its plans to resume its whale slaughter at a meeting of the International Whaling Commission in Panama yesterday. Mr Campbell says the prime minister's plan to have our ambassador protest in Seoul is too little and far too late. He says the government put up the white flag on the issue in 2008 and says if it had maintained pressure on Japan, South Korea wouldn't be resuming whaling. (http://www.skynews.com.au)

Editor's Comment: The International Whaling Commission is meeting in Panama this week, and there have been dozens headlines generated as the various countries announce their plans to resume whaling activities.

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Climate change suspended reef growth for 2 millennia

Environmental Issues Climate change drove coral reefs to a total ecosystem collapse lasting thousands of years, according to a paper published this week in Science. The paper shows how natural climatic shifts stopped reef growth in the eastern Pacific for 2,500 years. The reef shutdown, which began 4,000 years ago, corresponds to a period of dramatic swings in the El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO). "As humans continue to pump greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, the climate is once again on the threshold of a new regime, with dire consequences for reef ecosystems unless we get control of climate change," said coauthor Richard Aronson, a biology professor at Florida Institute of Technology.

Doctoral student Lauren Toth and Aronson, her adviser at Florida Tech, led the study of how past episodes of climate change influenced tropical reefs of the eastern Pacific. Toth, Aronson and a multi-institutional research team drove 17-foot, small-bore aluminum pipes deep into the dead frameworks of coral reefs along the Pacific coast of Panama and pulled out cross-sections of the reefs. By analyzing the corals in the cores, they were able to reconstruct the history of the reefs over the past 6,000 years.

"We were shocked to find that 2,500 years of reef growth were missing from the frameworks," said Toth. "That gap represents the collapse of reef ecosystems for 40 percent of their total history." When Toth and Aronson examined reef records from other studies across the Pacific, they discovered the same gap in reefs as far away as Australia and Japan.

Toth linked the coral-reef collapse to changes in ENSO. ENSO is the climate cycle responsible for the weather conditions every few years known as El Niño and La Niña events. The timing of the shutdown in reef growth corresponds to a period of wild swings in ENSO. "Coral reefs are resilient ecosystems," said Toth. "For Pacific reefs to have collapsed for such a long time and over such a large geographic scale, they must have experienced a major climatic disturbance. That disturbance was an intensified ENSO regime."

Scenarios of climate change for the coming century echo the climate patterns that collapsed reefs in the eastern Pacific 4,000 years ago. The reefs off Panama are on the verge of another collapse. "Climate change could again destroy coral-reef ecosystems, but this time the root cause would be the human assault on the environment and the collapse could be longer-lasting," said Aronson. "Local issues like pollution and overfishing are major destructive forces and they need to be stopped, but they are trumped by climate change, which right now is the greatest threat to coral reefs."

Toth noted more hopefully that reefs have proven resilient in the past, so the potential for recovery should be good if climate change can be mitigated or reversed.

Source : Florida Institute of Technology

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MEF Approves $4 Million Dollars To Fund Biodiversity Eco Tourism Project

Environmental IssuesWith the adoption of a resolution, the Ministry of Economy and Finance was authorized to sign a funding contract (grant) for investment in the Global Environment Fund with the Inter-American Development Bank. The purpose of this resolution is to finance the Project of Incorporation of the Conservation of Biodiversity through low impact Ecotourism in the National System of Protected Areas (SINAP) for an amount up to $4 million dollars. This project will contribute to the conservation of biodiversity and sustainability of protected areas within a framework of innovation, enterprise integration and sustainable social development. (Dia a Dia)

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Bay of Panama Mangroves Will Be Protected While Studies Are Carried Out

Environmental IssuesThe Mayor of Panama issued a decree prohibiting any earth moving, land fills, or construction within the wetland area that forms the Bay of Panama, until scientific studies are carried out to determine the treatment this area will be given. The document states in its preamble that the area of ​​the Bay of Panama and its surroundings have important ecological roles as regulators of water regimes and are a critical habitat for endangered wildlife. Decree No. 2339 which bears the signature of the Mayor of Panama, Roxana Mendez and the Secretary General, Catibel Franco Arias also notes this area is covered with natural vegetation, so it is necessary to promote its conservation, protection and management for sustainable present and future use. The new standard is a reminder that the office of the Mayor of Panama, through the Department of Works and Construction, is responsible for issuing permits for construction, improvements, additions to structures, demolition and earth moving within the district.

Given this it is necessary to strengthen actions of conservation, protection, rational use and management of ecosystems to prevent ecological damage effect that could be caused by new construction in the wetland areas in the Bay of Panama. The issuance of the decree coincided with a meeting held by Mayor Roxana Méndez with a committee of environmental experts, who will present a series of recommendations as to the rules that can be dictated by the Mayor of Panama for land use in areas of mangroves and wetlands that are in the Bay of Panama. The mayor said until the future land use for the area is finally defined "we will protect the use of that area in order to safeguard the interests and integrity of the inhabitants of the sector."

The commission is meeting with a team of experts from the Mayor's office and the Mayor herself, to make recommendations for rules which should ensure environmental protection and any type of work that is respectful of the environment and the safety of those living all along that coast. The meeting was attended by representatives of the Ministry of Public Works, ANAM, SINAPROC, SPIA, ANCON, NATURA, CAPAC, Faculty of Architecture at the University of Panama, USMA, Smithsonian Institution and APEDE. The commission meeting with the mayor shall have a maximum of 60 days to submit recommendations aimed at protecting the mangroves and the environment demands that are required by the inhabitants of the area. (Dia a Dia)

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American Arrested Transporting Wood Without ANAM Permit in Los Santos

Environmental IssuesOne American and two Colombians were were arrested by the National Police in Los Santos, when they were transporting cedar wood without the proper permits from the National Environmental Authority (ANAM). A report by police officers indicates the 43 year old American, together with two Colombians, were transporting 192 board feet of cedar wood, without permits. The wood was being transported in a white Toyota Hilux pickup truck, from Guararé to the area of sector, where the three foreign citizens reside. The ANAM has started an investigation in this case. (Prensa)

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NGO's Demand The Creation Of A Sanctuary Corridor In the Americas To Protect Whales

Environmental Issues Environmental organizations announced on Thursday in Panama that in July they will demand at the meeting of the International Whaling Commission the creation of a sanctuary to protect whales in the waters of the Atlantic and the Pacific, around the continent. "We propose that all countries continue to declare their waters as a sanctuary for whales to create a great corridor and whale sanctuary in the Americas. From Alaska to Chile and from Canada to Argentina, including the waters of the Caribbean," said Gabriel Despaigne, of the Green Association of Panama.

From 2 to 6 July in Panama will be held the 64th meeting of the International Whaling Commission (IWC), an organization created in 1946 by the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling. But environmentalists fear that the proposal, agreed by various civic organizations throughout the continent, will not come out ahead at the IWC, so they are thinking about taking their petition to the heads of governments of the region. "If the conservation of whales does not advance in this poor obsolete commission, the region has legitimacy and political power to propose their own or international conservation framework or (develop) a regional treaty," said Jose Truda of the Cetacean Conservation Center, an NGO in Brazil and Argentina.

"Little by little each country in Latin America should declare its territorial waters as a sanctuary," as has already been done in Mexico, Panama, Costa Rica and Chile, said Marcela Vargas, of the World Society for Animal Protection, with a regional office in Costa Rica. According to statistical data provided by Truda, in the twentieth century more than two million whales were caught by the fishing industry, which has put this animal on the brink of extinction. (BS. See Comments)

During the IWC meeting, environmentalists also highlight the importance of whale watching as a form of tourism and income for countries, and an alternative to hunting the animal. "There is much talk of ecotourism for forests and birds. But the sighting of whales and dolphins is the fastest growing in the world where Latin American countries have more potential," said Truda, who said this activity brings in $2.1 billion dollars a year.

The environmentalists of the NGOs accuse the IWC of representing the interests of Japan and the defenders of whaling. (Estrella)

Editor's Comment: Whales are not "on the verge of extinction" (see graphic above). A moratorium on whaling was instituted in 1986 and since then only a few countries such as Japan, Iceland, and Norway continue to harvest whales. Personally I think there are plenty of cows, pigs, and chickens in the world that we can kill and eat every year, and there are lots of ways to grow and harvest seafood or other forms of water borne protein if you happen to prefer seafood. Why the Japanese insist on eating whale flesh, I have no idea. I think the point about there being more money to make in whale watching is excellent.

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Environmentalists Protest On The Steps Of The Supreme Court

Environmental IssuesMembers of different environmental organizations participated in a protest on the steps of the Supreme Court to reject two rulings that stripped the Bay of Panama and Donoso of protected area status. "We're going to drown," a phrase known in Panama that now takes on a different context, is that the decision of the Court allow the destruction of wetlands, which would break the natural protection. In this regard, Alida Spadafora, of Ancon, said that this is a demonstration of the Panamanian concern at the destruction of our natural heritage. (Telemetro)

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1,000 Board Feet Of Illegal Cocobolo Wood Seized in Panama

Environmental IssuesThe local Justice of the Peace, an accordion player, and three others are under investigation by the National Environmental Authority (ANAM) in Los Santos, after they were linked to the illegal movement of about 1,000 board feet of cocobolo wood. David Vergara, the Director of the ANAM in Los Santos, confirmed the fact by telephone yesterday. He added that this institution began an administrative investigation, and there is another in the offices of the Public Ministry, for this alleged environmental crime. During the weekend, officers of the National Police from the station in Pocrí in the province of Los Santos, stopped a vehicle carrying more than 1,000 board feet of illegal and hidden cocobolo wood.

Targeted By The Authorities - Five people are linked to this shipment who are being investigated by the ANAM and the local prosecutor in Pocrí. According to police reports, the illegal timber came from Oria in the district of Pocrí, and was covered by tobacco leaves and empty rice sacks to mislead the police and ANAM officials. In the afternoon yesterday, the seized timber was moved to the courtyard of the headquarters of the ANAM in Guararé, while the impounded vehicle was taken to the offices of this institution in Las Tablas. (Mi Diario)

Editor's Comment: Another of Panama's "open secrets" is that for years, these illegal loggers could just pay bribes to make the inspectors look the other way. Now that's changed, and these people are being hunted down and prosecuted. But of course this is Panama, so you can expect some "selective enforcement" - the game they always play. If you're on the wrong team you have a better chance of being targeted and busted.

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Residents of Juan Diaz Protesting To Protect Mangrove Swamps

Environmental IssuesToday, we celebrate the World Environment day, date in which environmentalists and residents of the village of Juan Diaz - the most dense of the capital district - have come to protest against the felling of mangroves along its shores. The protesters allege that the cutting of mangroves and landfills are causing threats such as flooding and endangering migratory birds, and they are asking for the intervention of President Ricardo Martinelli. The protest grows after the authorities gave permission for the felling of mangroves, so they have called this Tuesday, May 5 as a day of grief and mourning in Panama. Thus, environmentalists and residents of Juan Diaz, who have condemned the ruling of the Third Chamber of the Supreme Court, which temporarily suspends the protected area status of the Wetland Wildlife Refuge of the Bay of Panama, they asked for the protection to not be removed from the mangroves. The resolution of the Aquatic Resources Authority of Panama (ARAP), which decreases the fine for the illegal felling of mangroves, and which provides for the granting of permission to fell mangroves, has also been strongly questioned. Mangroves are known as a buffer against possible climate change because they immobilize large amounts of sediments rich in organic matter, and they are also a place of refuge for migratory birds and other species, which is why environmentalists oppose its devastation. (Estrella)

Editor's Comment: There's all kinds of mangrove swamp areas between Costa del Este and the Tocumen International Airport that has not been developed because it's all been protected areas. Now, those protections have been lifted so the area can be developed. There are still hundreds of miles of shoreline in Panama that are protected mangrove swamps, and the area in question isn't large enough to cause a significant impact one way or the other. The environmental radicals are another group that would like to impose their will on the way the country is being run. Like it or not, people want to be near the ocean, so that land is more valuable. Mangroves or no mangroves.

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Environmentalists Reject Ruling Against Protected Area in Panama Bay

Environmental IssuesMore than thirty of the major national environmental NGOs vigorously rejected today the decision of two judges of the Supreme Court to suspend the protected area status to the Bay of Panama. The incident was described as serious in a press conference by Rosabel Miró, executive director of Audibom Panama, one of the NGOs calling to denounce and reject the arbitrary decision. Miro said that condition had been achieved after a long battle in 2003 when the Ramsar Convention included it in its list of wetlands of international importance and Panama agreed to conserve and protect areas of mangroves and mudflats of the Bay. Felix Wing Solis, executive director of CIAM Panama, said they are filing lawsuits to try to have the decision taken by two of the three main judges of the Third Chamber of the Court reversed, and the bay's status of protected area is restored. Environmentalists denounced that the suspension of the regulation allows the cutting of mangroves and artificial fillers on floodplain that jeopardize the city and threaten human, legal, ecological and economic security. (Prensa Latina)
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Wind Power Turbines Installed at Punta Galeta in Panama

Environmental Issues
Wind Power Turbines Installed at Punta Galeta in Panama
Wind Power Turbines Installed at Punta Galeta in Panama
The demand for the use of efficient wind power generation is growing in Panama, due largely to the push given by the depletion and rising cost of bunker, a derivative of crude oil and coal used by thermal plants, and protests against some of the hydro electric projects, something which has occurred in Panama and in other countries. For this reason, the country's first wind turbines were installed in the grounds of the Punta Galeta Marine Laboratory, a research station of the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, located in the coastal area of ​​the province of Colon, near the Caribbean entrance of the Panama Canal.

Stanley Heckadon Moreno, director of the laboratory, explained that with the capture of wind energy they are reducing the electric bill at the research station, and they avoid damage by replacing other forms of energy that depend on more polluting conventional sources such as power plants. "When talking about wind power you are describing the process by which the wind is used to generate mechanical power or electricity," said Heckadon, who said four wind turbines were installed. Each turbine produces an estimated 5 kilowatts per hour with a peak capacity of 10 kilowatts per hour if they work at full capacity. That's the average amount consumed in a common house anywhere in Panama. A 60-watt bulb lit for one hour consumes 0.06 kilowatt hours of electricity. This energy will supply the facilities of Punta Galeta Marine Laboratory.

For his part, Gabriel Thomas, program coordinator of education of that station, said the turbines are a valuable educational tool to show the economic feasibility of harnessing wind as an energy resource to over 12,000 foreign and domestic visitors who go there every year. The objective of this innovation is to generate energy using the incessant Caribbean winds. In Punta Galeta there is sufficient winds to use this as a recourse. Wind energy is an abundant, renewable and clean. (Siglo)

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ANAM Tosses SENAFRONT and Prosecutor Under The Bus in Logger Dispute

Environmental Issues The ball bounces and extends. Those involved in the timber industry in the Eastern part of the province of Panamá and the Darién have returned to the streets in the district of Chepo to demand that the authorities cease the persecution against them, and that they should be allowed to carry out their activities normally, and to move freely with their cargo. "No one is responsible for the effects on the industry," said Bernardo Ramos, the President of the Timber Association of Darien and Eastern Panama. "We have all our permits in order, and they are stopping our trucks," said Raul Acevedo Jr., a timber man.

The National Environmental Authority (ANAM) reacted yesterday to the protests and street closures the loggers have been conducting since Monday. The protesters, who posted themselves at 7:30 am on the Pan American Highway in the village of Las Margaritas, were being monitored by units of the Riot Control police as the moved up to the checkpoint in Chepo. They decided to close one lane of the highway, where they remained until yesterday afternoon , awaiting a response from the Director of ANAM, Lucía Chandeck, who at the time was in Panama City in a meeting with a commission sent by the loggers. However in the afternoon Chandeck decided to travel to Chepo to talk with the loggers, in a meeting held on the side of the road that lasted for about an hour.

SENAFRONT - There Chandeck explained that the ANAM does not have anything to do with the measures that have been implemented in the sector of the Darien and the Eastern part of the province of Panama in related to the retention and seizure of lumber that meets all of the requirements under the law, but rather these are the decisions of the National Border Service (SENAFRONT) and the Office of the Environmental Prosecutor.

Eutimio Peralta, one of the loggers present, said Chandeck told them it is the SENAFRONT and the Office of the Environmental Prosecutor who are responsible for conducting the investigations related to the transfer of timber and logging. Peralta cannot understand why - if they have all of their documentation - how can the authorities seize and hold the timber without any sort of an explanation. "Who ordered the seizures and the retention of the trucks that are loaded with timber, and to bring the drivers to the office of the Prosecutor? All of our papers are in order. The ANAM does not know who gave the order. They just say it was an order that came from above. The authority (ANAM) ensures that they have not issued any order of suspension of permits, guides, and movement. We want to know, because it jeopardizes our investments," said Peralta.

Today, Wednesday, 11 April 2012, a commission of loggers, together with their lawyer, will go to the Darien in order to have a meeting with the Director of the National Border Service Frank Ábrego, and the Deputy Commissioner responsible for the province, where at 9:00 am the will visit with the Prosecutor, in Santa Fe. (Mi Diario)

Editor's Comment: So, the primary accomplishment of the Director of the National Environmental Authority, Lucía Chandeck, was to make sure these pissed off loggers know they should not be mad at her, but rather they should direct their ire towards the SENAFRONT and the Office of the Environmental Prosecutor.

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Timber Industry On A "War Footing" In Eastern Panama Province

Environmental IssuesThose involved in the timber industry in the Eastern part of the province of Panama and the Darien are on a "war footing" in response to the order issued by the National Environmental Authority (ANAM) which has suspended permits for timber harvesting and transportation. Bernardo Ramos, the President of the Timber Association of Eastern Panama and the Darien, stated that all who are engaged in timber harvesting and transportation are meeting all of the requirements established by law, and it's not fair that they should bear the brunt of the recent conflict between the settlers and the indigenous Wounaan in Chiman, which basically is a problem over land. Ramos and a group timber men have closed the road near the ANAM substation in Cañita de Chepo, with the intention of forcing a command authority to explain the situation and the reasons for the order that was issued, because otherwise they will not reopen the road. (Critica)

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Body Of Embera-Wounaan Indian Exhumed In Logging Conflict Investigation

Environmental IssuesThe Institute of Legal Medicine and Forensic Sciences yesterday exhumed the body of the indigenous Aquilo Opua, who died last Friday in a clash between settlers and Embera-Wounaan in the community of Platanal, Chimán district. These actions are part of the investigations being conducted by the Public Ministry, after a dispute over the alleged illegal logging of cocobolo would result in the death of Opua and the settler Ezequiel Batista, whose body is at the Judicial Morgue in Chepo. The Public Ministry said an autopsy was conducted on Batista's body to determine the causes that led to his death. Public Ministry officials also held a collection of evidence in the area to incorporate into the record for murder that was opened for this case. Leonides Quiros, the legal representative of the Embera Wounaan Congress, said those responsible for these deaths are the authorities, because they have not energetically enforced the law. (Siglo)
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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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ANAM Issues Six Day Moratorium On Transportation Of All Wood Products

Environmental IssuesThe National Environmental Authority suspended the transportation of timber logs, sawn or semi-sawed throughout the country beginning at 6:00 pm on 3 April 2012, until 8:00 am on 9 April 2012. The ANAM ordered their officers to enforce the resolution, and they requested the cooperation of police authorities and checkpoints of the National Police to retain and place under the orders for the National Environment Authority any vehicle caught transporting forest products during the prohibited hours and days. Resolution No. 0119-2012 AG, issued on April 2 was published in Official Gazette number 27006. The move comes after the confrontation between Indians and loggers in Platanares, la Unión Santeña, district of Chimán, in the Eastern part of the province of Panama last Friday that left two dead. (TVN)

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Authorities in Los Santos Increase Inspections For Illegal Logging

Environmental IssuesFollowing the concern of people in Los Santos who have denounced the illegal logging of Cocobolo trees in the region, authorities have said they will increase monitoring to end this situation. The governor of Los Santos, Armando Batista said that police checkpoints be implemented on the bridge of Río La Villa and in Los Pozos. He also stated they will search all trucks carrying other types of wood, as they have received information they Cocobolo wood is being hidden and camouflaged with other types of wood. (Telemetro)

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Ten Hectares Of Trees Illegally Felled in Los Santos

Environmental IssuesAbout 10 hectares of trees have been felled illegally near the Muñoz river, in the province of Los Santos. This has stressed the wildlife in this place and is causing ecosystem deterioration. David Vergara the director of the National Environmental Authority (ANAM), said this is a severe offense and could be penalized with jail, so they will do more investigations to find the culprits. (Dia a Dia)

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Forestry Conference on Forest Management in Panama

Environmental Issues The U.S. Government, through the Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Tropical Agricultural Research and Higher Education Center (CATIE), hosted a Forestry Conference on the state of natural forest management and the use of instruments for better use of forest resources.

USAID works with the Government of Panama, NGOs and interested citizens in the development of specific actions for the institutional strengthening and the management of Panama’s biodiversity, the proper use of natural resources and its economic impact. The application of practical solutions that allow the reduction and avoidance of threats faced by forests is a challenge, and the reduction of climate change and its relation with forests is one of the environmental topics of most concern to humanity.

Dan Smolka, Director of USAID, said in the conference that ‘We are widening our accomplishments by exchanging valuable information and showing this and neighboring countries that Panama has made significant progress on the management of its forests.’

Various stakeholders from Panama, Guatemala, Bolivia and Costa Rica participated in the conference, and talked about legislation, planning of forest management and the importance of agroforestry systems. The result was an exchange of experiences and conclusion of high impact for the national and international forestry sector. Participants included the Director of USAID in Panama, Daniel Smolka; the CATIE representative, Elvin Britton; National Government authorities and forestry representatives from Panama and guest countries, who contributed to an extensive analysis of Panama’s possibilities and the challenges it faces.

USAID is celebrating 50 years in Panama, and the contributions it has made to the country’s development through infrastructure projects as well as programs in the agricultural, health and education sectors. All of USAID’s development activities have been implemented in collaboration with the Panamanian government, and this successful alliance has improved the lives of millions of Panamanians throughout the country. The current USAID programs continue to deal with the development priorities of Panamanians, including sustainable forestry, the fostering of economic opportunities, the strengthening of civil society and the development of Community Outreach Centers for Panamanian youth. Due to Panama’s impressive accomplishments and robust economic growth, the USAID mission in Panama will phase out this year. However, local institutions and new public-private partnerships will provide continuity to many of the programs. Since 1962, USAID has contributed over a billion dollars for Panama’s development. Even after USAID closes, the U.S. Embassy will continue its commitment to development and cooperation issues and to face these challenges together. (US Embassy Panama Press Release)

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ANAM Is Following Up and Monitoring Hydroelectric Concessions

Environmental IssuesGerardo Gonzalez, the Director of Watersheds of the National Environmental Authority, said today while speaking on the channel 2 TVN morning news broadcast, that we are fortunate in Panama because we have water, but we must monitor are follow-up in the concessions that have been granted, and it's everyone's responsibility. Given the conflict over hydroelectric projects on the Tabasará river, which has been rejected by the indigenous Ngäbe Bugle people, Gonzalez said the ANAM did a management plan for the basin, but there is much to do. Gonzalez said the basin is not only the river, but rather the territory where the streams converge, and sometimes, when concessions are granted for hydroelectric projects, the basins are given up for other uses, such as for agriculture. However, he said hydroelectric projects do not draw any water from the rivers. "These are things that we monitor and and we follow-up with them," said the official of the ANAM, while saying that the preservation of our watersheds is everyone's problem. (TVN)

Editor's Comment: This weekend factors surrounding the development of hydroelectric projects in Panama were the topics being discussed on the Sunday morning debate programs yesterday. The environmentalists have so twisted the public discussions that the television programs called in outside independent experts (not from the government) to clarify some of the most basic of elements. For example - if you build a dam on a river the water simply passes through the dam and as it flows that movement of water is used to generate electricity, however the dam does not "use" or otherwise do away with or reduce the flow of the river downstream. Silly (ignorant) people are apparently thinking that if you build a dam on a river, the river goes away or something similar. This kind of thinking happens because the environmentalists who are all against hydroelectric projects in any way, shape, or form try to distort or misrepresent the truth and facts, to better fit their anti-development agendas. On all of the programs the mild mannered adults simply explained the truth and facts, while stripping away much of the smoke being blown by the environmentalists, who voiced their opposition at every possible moment. The environmentalists repeatedly said things like "this is a global issue" - they are the ones who are prompting the indigenous Ngabe-Bugle Indians to fight against the development of these hydroelectric projects in Panama. The environmentalists are funded by money from outside of the country, and they are trying to throw a monkey wrench in the spokes of Panama's future and development. I hope they are not allowed to get away with it.

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Three Arrested in Los Santos For Illegal Lumber

Environmental IssuesMore than 7,000 board feet of Cocobolo wood valued on the international market at $300,000 dollars was seized by the National Environment Authority and the National Police in the province of Los Santos. Three people were arrested and are being investigated for environmental crime, according to the Regional Administrator of the ANAM in Los Santos, Gerardo Gonzalez. Gonzalez said the ANAM is acting aggressively against those who would continue to market cocobolo wood domestically and internationally. (TVN)

Editor's Comment: Panama has relatively tough laws - which they actually enforce - to protect the forests, trees, and the environment. Cocobolo occurs naturally in the Panamanian jungle, as opposed to Teak which is not indigenous to Panama. You have to get a permit to do anything with wood or lumber in Panama - you need a permit to drive down the road with the truck of a tree in the back of your pickup truck. It's tightly regulated.

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Huge Corotú Falls Near Panama Canal Administration Building

Environmental Issues The passage of time seems to have overcome the huge "corotú" tree, near the administration building of the Panama Canal. The tree, clearly at least one hundred years old, fell with a crash, but fortunately nobody was injured. The staff of the Panama Canal Authority proceeded to remove the tree. (TVN)

Editor's Comment: Enterolobium cyclocarpum. Family: Leguminosae. Common name: corotú. The corotú is a very large pasture tree. On big individuals, the trunk often forks near the ground, so the immensely wide crown almost touches the ground. In pastures and grasslands in the Pacific slope of Panama , the corotu is the dominant large tree. It can also be a major component of secondary forests, in which the forest recently regenerated from pasture. This tree is very common around Panama City , Parque Metropolitano, and all along the Canal all the way to Gamboa. The wood is of fine quality and is used for furniture and giant trunks are used for making dugout canoes (STRI). The corotú is one of the largest and most beautiful of the trees of the savanna. It is known in Costa Rica as the guanacaste and is the national tree of that country. It is also known as false mahogany, the earlobe tree, and the elephant ear tree, among other names.

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Boquetanian Demetrio Diaz needs your vote

Environmental IssuesBy DON WINNER for Panama-Guide.com - Received this afternoon via email: "Hi Don, There is a member of our community in Boquete, who has been nominated for a prestigious prize and is in need of votes. Is there anyway you could write a short article on him and perhaps post the link where your readers can vote? Thanks so much, I know you are a busy man! Regards, Samantha."

Sure, No Problem: "There are the Oscars, the Emmys and the Golden Globes; but there is no award given to Latin American innovative projects that change the world - discovering vaccines, improving technology, generating new social waves, struggling to control climate change. The Prize Innovadores de America acknowledges the most relevant social development, entrepreneurial, cultural and scientific projects. Latin American projects that, through great creativity and effort help to make a better world. The Prize Innovadores de America represents a well-deserved acknowledgement for work performed by Latin American icons that do not sing, run after a ball, or frequently appear in the media. For their capacity to transform society through their innovations these modern heroes deserve to be recognized and rewarded. Innovadores de America is a regional prize awarded every two years. Its objective is to acknowledge and promote Latin Americans whose creative contributions represent innovations so important that they become role models from whom to learn and with the potential to benefit many. Innovators of America promotes a new Latin American innovation culture in order to share, transmit and disseminate the creative Latin America spirit. The award will consist of $40,000.00 for each winner of the following categories: Education, Science and Technology, Design, Sustainability and Ecology, Community Development, and Enterprise and Industry. Latin American individuals, groups or organizations that have innovative projects may participate by completing the Application Form.

Demetrio Javier Díaz M - Phytoprotector biofactory: Improving regional food production. Maximizing agricultural productivity. Rejuvenating and extending the life of the soil. Promoting cleaner agricultural production. Conserving the environment. Invigorating the local economy. Aboquete strives to increase the quality of the agricultural economy and community in Latin America, supplying farmers with sustainable biological controls that protect their lands, increase their incomes, and grow the regional economy.

Ten years ago, Aboquete was founded as a company that would add value to agro-industrial waste by recycling safe agricultural byproducts and transforming them into organic fertilizer. Aboquete perceived that farmers had the need for alternative products that would help them control pests without contaminating the environment and degrading their lands. Aboquete’s innovative leadership identified the study of fungi that control insects and pests as a marketable ecological solution and sought funding to grow a new business unit that would focus on the research and development of fungi as a biological control. In 2008, a laboratory was created that now has produced five products that are fine-tuned to meet the most pressing needs of Latin America’s farmers. These products effectively improve crop production through the elimination of pests and diseases, while removing the threat of damage to the environment.

Aboquete is a pioneer in its home country in the development of this technology. CEO Demetrio Diaz takes a holistic approach to achieving the objectives of Aboquete by promoting sustainability at all levels, during development, production, and marketing. The Aboquete team develops strong relationships with Latin American farmers in order to understand their critical needs and provide educational programs to enhance the regional understanding of sustainable production. Aboquete’s focus on outreach and education has in recent years influenced Latin American farmers to become increasingly more aware of the importance of using products that help conserve the environment without affecting their return on investment. Aboquete also strives to promote sustainability by acting as a positive example for other businesses, running its operations solely with renewable energy, using renewable bamboo as material for new construction, and crafting products that reduce the emissions of dangerous green house gasses.

Aboquete continues to work relentlessly to develop new innovative controls that alleviate the pressure on farmers to use conventional chemical products. Through new relationships with regional partners, Aboquete is working to increase the regional awareness of the benefits of organic agricultural products, aiming to expand the market for safe biological controls and permanently change the way land is used in Latin America."

Click On This Link To Vote: Apparently you can vote once per day - Click Here To Vote. When I put this up he was in a tight race for first place with 9,267 votes. I've since blasted my Twitter contacts with the information and links, asking them to RT. Voting will be open apparently until the third week in November when the winner will be selected.

Copyright 2011 by Don Winner for Panama-Guide.com. Go ahead and use whatever you like as long as you credit the source. Salud.

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Government Contracting To Clean Up Oil Spill in Colon

Environmental Issues#Panama - The Panama Maritime Authority (AMP) is in the process of hiring a company to perform the work of "bioremediation" to clean up the waters of a "wheel" (containment wall) and mangroves that were affected by a bunker spill in the area of Mont Hope, in the province of Colon. Abraham Martinez, the Director of Pollution of the AMP, explained this spill was caused by a leak that occurred in December 2010 due to damage to underground pipes, and it created a layer six inches deep in the "wheel" (containment wall) that surrounds the storage tanks. Martinez said this layer has already been collected and there are now clots of oil in the water, so they are in the process of hiring a company that will be responsible for the cleanup. According to Martinez, at least three companies have shown interest in participating in this cleaning process, but they must meet the requirements laid out in "Panama Compra." An environmentalist who asked not to be named, said this bunker spill will take its toll on the ecology of the area, and there are approximately 15,000 square meters affected. (Siglo)

Editor's Comment: What? An "unnamed environmentalist"? That's got to be a first. Normally the most dangerous place on the planet is a space between any environmentalist and a microphone. OK, so there's a spill, and it's going to be cleaned up. Got it. But this "unnamed environmentalist" is probably a government employee who gave some additional information to the reporter, but he can't go on the record. The mysterious "hooded tree hugger..." - yeah, right.

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Burning One Gallon of Gasoline - Produces 19 Pounds of Carbon Dioxide - Makes 5.5 Pounds of Teak

Environmental Issues #Panama By DON WINNER for Panama-Guide.com - In the past few months I've been working with Jeff Duda, the President of Panama Teak Forestry to help develop a marketing and publicity strategy for their plantation teak in Panama. The more I learn about this business, the more I like it, for two primary reasons. First of all, teak is a very valuable tropical hardwood, used in marine applications such as boats and decking. Teak is also used to build outdoor furniture, as well as a flooring and deck material used for higher end homes. It's a pretty wood, it's durable, and most importantly it can stand up to the harsh outdoor environments - rain, snow, and saltwater - and it won't rot. Teak trees have evolved in the relatively rough neighborhood of the tropical rain forest, and has developed natural defenses against insects, mold, mildew, fungus, and rot. As such, teak wood and lumber is relatively expensive on the retail market. Outdoor furniture made of teak is some of the most expensive on the market, precisely because these pieces are considered to be "instant heirlooms" (because they are going to out live all of us.) So that's the first reason why I like this business - it's profitable. Of course it takes a long time for a newly planted teak tree to grow to maturity, 25 years or so, so it's a long term investment. And a lot of people have learned the hard way that you can't just "plant it and forget it". A forest of value has to be intensively managed and monitored - if not it's practically worthless. Anyway, the plantation teak trees being grown and professionally managed by Panama Teak Forestry represent a whole lot of potential profit. And the important question from an environmental point of view - How much carbon dioxide are all those plantation teak trees in Panama sequestering (removing) from the atmosphere? (more)
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Government Shuts Down Illegal and Improvised Landfill

Environmental Issues#Panama - At this moment authorities from the Regional Health Bureau in San Miguelito, Las Cumbres and Chilbre, working in conjunction with the Bureau of Cleaning and the Office of Metropolitan Health, are closing several improvised landfills in a field near the area of Kuna Nega on the road that leads to Cerro Patacón. In the place they found mosquito larvae and all kinds of waste. Underneath all this, they found methane gas which is a danger to the community. The director of the Metropolitan Health Region, Jorge Hassan, said previously there have been fires in this area. The number of makeshift landfills is similar in size of Cerro Patacón. During the operation they found a truck throwing waste in a prohibited place. They did not find the driver. Hassan said he would increase penalties for people who throw trash in places where it's not allowed, and he also spoke of the possibility of apprehending those who do. (Dia a Dia)

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