Americas
2 Dec 2015

Conservation hero award for helping to save wetland

Panama Bay is a major stopover site for shorebirds (image: Karl Kaufmann)
By Ade Long
The Disney Conservation Fund announced its 2015  "Disney Conservation Heroes" - people whose efforts help to save wildlife, protect habitats, and educate communities. Rosabel Miro, Executive Director of Panama Audubon Society (BirdLife in Panama) is one of this year's heroes - through her leadership and organization of a wide array of stakeholders, she was a key  leader in the charge to save the Bay of Panama wetlands and encourage the government to declare the area a permanently protected wildlife refuge area
 
Those protections came early in 2015, when the Panamanian government declared the wetlands around the Bay of Panama a protected wildlife refuge. At the same time, the government established the first Panamanian Ministry of the Environment.
 
Rosabel Miro, 2015 Disney Conservation Hero (Image: Karl Kaufmann)
Rosable Miro said: 'As a child my dad bought us a collection of Disney books. I enjoyed reading about Disney cartoon heros and how, even when things looked bad, there was always a happy ending where dreams came true. Now I am honoured to be a Disney conservation hero, forty years later. My work conserving one of the most important sites for migratory shorebirds in the Americas went from the despair of losing its legal protection to the exhilaration of passing a new law for its protection and conservation.
 
We all need heros to inspire us but heros need allies to support them. The work of all Disney heros this year shows how everyone can work for the benefit of nature and people’. 
 
The Bay of Panama—a vast expanse of estuaries, mangrove forests, swamp forests, freshwater pools, and broad intertidal mudflats on the western coast of Panama—attracts millions of migrating shorebirds every year, providing shelter for 30 percent of the global population of Western Sandpiper, up to 20 percent of the global population of Semipalmated Plover, and 34 other North American migratory bird species.
 
Rosabel was nominated by the National Audubon Society (BirdLife in the US).  
 
National Audubon Society’s International Alliances Program worked in close partnership with  Panama Audubon Society to develop the conservation plan for the area. When the Bay of Panama was in danger of losing its protected area status in 2013, Audubon members wrote over 14,000 letters to key decision makers. .