Panama Bay – Good News!

Ted Cheskey

Ted Cheskey, Senior Conservation Manager

It’s Official!

Panama Bay has been reinstated as a protected area by the President of Panama who signed the law declaring the Upper Bay of Panama Ramsar site as a national protected area.

After it looked like this site of global significance would be lost to development, we were buoyed last year by the decision of Panama’s highest court to overturn a government decision to open up this tremendous wetland to development.

The Bay of Panama is a globally Important Bird and Biodiversity Area (IBA), a Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network (WHSRN) site, and a RAMSAR (international wetland convention) site, and home to a large number of bird and other species that use the area for both habitat and migration.

Western Sandpiper

Western Sandpiper
Credit: Bill Bouton

Nature Canada is honoured to have played a small role in the campaign to bring legal protection back to Panama Bay. The Panama Audubon Society (Sociedad Audubon de Panamá) reached out to us and asked for our help. In late 2013, Nature Canada provided $10,000 for bird conservation in Panama Bay on behalf of long-time Nature Canada members Len and Anne Murray. The prospect of winning this campaign looked dim for a while. But Panama Audubon persevered and, with this funding support, they were able to engage in an extremely high profile campaign that galvanized public support and won the day resulting in the recent law protecting the Bay and its wetlands!

Panama Bay is perhaps the most important link in a chain of sites upon which depend millions of migratory shorebirds, particularly the Western Sandpiper (this chain of sites includes the Boundary Bay and Tofino IBAs in Canada). Destruction of any one of these links — especially Panama Bay — would have had the potential of destabilizing entire populations of shorebirds throughout the entire hemisphere.

Thank you Mr. President and thank you to all engaged in this important campaign.