Panama Bay developers threaten to break the chain of shorebird stopover sites

Panama Bay is crucially important for birds migrating between North and South America
Panama Bay is crucially important for birds migrating between North and South America
By Martin Fowlie, Wed, 05/12/2012 - 10:33

One of the most important coastal wetlands in the Americas is under threat. The Upper Bay of Panama, an Important Bird Area, is a vital stopover site for migrating shorebirds. Up to two million individuals of 30 species use it on their way south after breeding.

The bay was declared a Ramsar site (Wetland of International Importance) in 2003, and included in the Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network in 2005. In 2009, over 80,000 ha of the Panama Bay Wetland became a National Protected Area. However, in May this year, legal protected status was withdrawn because of pressure for urban and resort development, including hotels and golf courses. At the same time, regulations on mangrove cutting have been relaxed. Developers are reported to be at work within the Ramsar site boundary.

The bay provides essential ecosystem services to the people of Panama. It acts as a “nursery” for fish and shellfish, contributing $86 million a year to the country’s economy in commercial fishing revenues. The wetlands and mangroves also filter and purify sewage and industrial effluent, preventing them entering the marine food chain, and act as a buffer protecting the city from flooding and extreme weather.

Act today and write your concerns to the Panamanian government.

  BirdLife Partner the Panama Audubon Society and a coalition of local and international environmental groups including National Audubon (BirdLife Partner in the USA) are taking legal action for protected status to be restored, and working with local communities to make sure their voices are heard.

“If these wetlands are lost, you break the chain of wetlands shorebirds need for successful migrations”, says Rosabel Miro, Panama Audubon’s executive director.


“This sets a dangerous precedent, not just for Panama but for the entire region”, warned Matt Jeffery, senior manager of National Audubon’s International Alliance’s Program.

Find out more


Americas Panama Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas (IBAs) - Americas


Please preserve the Panama Wetland, which I remember from visits to Panama in the 1980s

Nature beauty has not price, destroy our richness, that is, humanity richness, is not an intelligent act from our Panama government.

Save this treasure!

Please do not allow development to interfer further with this precious site. One by one we see species driven to exinction. Could not this be a shining example of conservation by the government of Panama?

Red knots will winter over in Panama, and these birds were being threatened by the commercial harvesting of horseshoe crabs in Delaware Bay. Let us not have the American subspecies also threatened by destruction of the Panama Bay Wetland.

Yet again having Ramsar status proves to be no safeguard whatsoever for protecting a site from the profits to be made for developers. There are so many examples now that you have to ask just what the point of Ramsar is if designations can't be legally enforced. Withdrawing the clause saying that Ramsar designation can effectively be ignored in 'the national interest' might be a good start.

Migratory birds must be some of the most amazing creatures on earth. Developments on Ramsar wetlands or any other wetlands should not be possible, there is precious little left for migrating birds and now even these small pockets are under threat. It will be an impoverished world without migratory birds.

Politicians, please think of your children and the type of world you leave them after you die. make a difference while you're in office!

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