Big victory in Panama impacts birds up and down the flyway

Migratory birds up and down the Pacific Flyway last week received a reprieve from destructive development as the Panamanian Supreme Court reinstated the protected status for the Bay of Panama wetlands, removing the temporary suspension it had placed on the protected area a year ago. The Court noted, “it is necessary to promote its conservation, protection and management for sustainable use for present and future generations."

While Panama Bay was recognized as a Globally Important Bird Area and a Wetland of International Importance under the Ramsar convention, the Bay’s protected status was reversed by Federal officials in Panama in April 2012. Many of the amazing ecosystems of Panama Bay are threatened by rampant poorly planned development. Panama City’s ongoing building boom endangers these critical ecosystems by pollution and eastward urban sprawl.

More than 24 migrant bird species from the U.S. and Canada that are of particular conservation concern depend on these habitats to survive. These include more than 30% of the global population of the Western Sandpiper and 22% of the global population of  Whimbrel.

“We commend this first critical step in securing the long-term conservation of this critical habitat,” said John Beavers, VP Audubon’s International Alliances Program. “There is a long road ahead but I am heartened to hear that the Supreme Court’s decision revolved around the need to promote the conservation and sustainable use of the Bay of Panama Wetlands for present and future generations.”

The National Audubon Society joined forces with the Panama Audubon Society in their battle to protect the bay. PAS is addressing this with a public awareness campaign in eastern suburbs and further developing scientific justification, for the protection and management of the Bay’s sensitive coastal resources.

(photo by Western Sandpiper by the USFWS)


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