Please Protect the Panama Bay Wildlife Refuge Mangrove Wetland

The mangrove forests of Panama are disappearing at an alarming rate due to development pressures. Mangroves are vital to combat climate change, they are the nursery for countless marine life, protect the coral reef and sea grasses from sedimentation and pollution runoff, provide impoortant habitat for migratory birds, sea turtles and manatees, contribute vital resources for local commnities who depend on the mangroves for life and livelihood. We need to conserve and restore the planet's mangroves and not permit their demise for selfish monetary gains.

Attn.  Ricardo Martinelli, Presidente de la República de Panamá. and

the undersigned persons are aware that the Panamanian Supreme Court
eliminated the classification for the Panama Bay Wildlife Refuge Wetland
Site in May 2012.  The majority of this protected area entered the Ramsar List of Wetlands of International Importance in 2003.  Most
of the site is composed of 85,000 ha of mangrove forest and other
wetland areas that stretch more than 100 km from Panama City east to the
border of Darién Province on Panama´s Pacific coast.  This protected area contains one of Panama´s largest contiguous mangrove forests.  The
wetlands of Panama Bay are one of the most important shorebird
migration stopover sites in the Western Hemisphere. Between 1 and 2
million shorebirds, comprising more than 30 species converge there each
fall during their annual migration.
consider that this action regarding the Panama Bay Wildlife Refuge
Wetland Site is an unprecedented attack on Panama´s National System of
Protected Areas and Western Hemisphere mangroves. 

are also aware the Panamanian officials have stated their intentions to
promote parts of the area for coastal tourism and real estate
development.  These land uses are inappropriate for a coastal mangrove ecosystem.

coastal wetlands of Panama Bay provide numerous ecosystem services to
Panama and its peoples that need to be protected and maintained.  They protect the shoreline against coastal erosion and storm events and are also important in mitigating coastal flooding.  Mangrove forests also are sinks for carbon and help slow increasing levels of atmospheric greenhouse gases.  With
global climate change and sea level rise, the importance of these
mangroves will only increase for Panama in the coming years.

Bay mangroves are nursery areas for various species of shrimp that
constitute an important economic resource in the Gulf of Panama and
generate significant export earnings for Panama.  Mangroves
are important centers for biological diversity, and Panama Bay is
recognized as a particularly important site for migratory shorebirds.  Additionally,
Panama Bay mangroves provide livelihoods for thousands of coastal
persons in small coastal communities from Juan Díaz to Chimán.

Given the actions of your government and the importance of Panama Bay mangroves, we request that Panamanian authorities:

Act to protect their country´s natural resources and fulfill their
responsibilities as the stewards of Panama´s National System of
Protected Areas,

2. Respect their Nation´s obligations under th  Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, and

3. Reinstitute the Panama Bay Wildlife Refuge Wetland Site.


For the Mangroves And the Mangrove Communities!


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