Thursday, April 11, 2013

NGOs reject attempts to cut back RAMSAR site protection in PANAMA BAY

PANAMA CITY. April 2, 2013 - civil society organizations environmental spoke today to call on the authorities to cease their attempts to weaken the protection of wetlands in Panama Bay Ramsar Site. They stressed that the recent government actions in this sense seeks the benefit of a few at the expense of a collective prejudice.
It has never happened that a country in the Americas, a member of the Ramsar Convention, aimed at the protection and wise use of wetlands in the world, has tried to eliminate or restrict formally the limits of a Ramsar Site. However, our country has been trying by various means to reduce the limits of Panama Bay Ramsar Site, even ignoring the Convention proceedings. On 26 March, the Ministry of Housing and Land Management (MIVIOT) presented the results of a study contracted by them to justify the reduction of the limits of this site called 'urgent national interest' which clearly was not evidenced in the presentation. The study results presented force special interests and seems to ignore the true national interest to protect these wetlands that help reduce the risk of natural disasters caused by socio flooding in Panama City are increasingly common in the rainy season and, aggravated by the phenomenon of rising sea level. Environmental organizations felt that towards the lives of people at risk, with events in years past, should not be allowed any more affection towards these valuable ecosystems.

They called on the Panamanian government that instead of wanting to affect the integrity of wetlands in the area of Bay of Panama, to the detriment of the many benefits these ecosystems provide us, strengthen security measures and actions to ensure the rational use of wetlands, as contemplated in the Strategic Plan of the Government of Panama from 2010 to 2014. They reiterated the need to pass the National Wetland Policy, developed with broad participation of various sectors and long rests in the hands of the Government for approval and official.

They insisted on the call made ​​to the Panamanian State on the occasion of World Wetlands Day, on February 2, to restore the protection of wetlands and stop the destruction. Through a statement, on that date, 33 non-governmental organizations presented 11 national and international demands that the state must meet for it. Environmental organizations emphasized that Panama has the opportunity to be a role model for the conservation of wetlands in compliance with international agreements of biodiversity, climate change and others, as well as trade agreements and in the consistency of decisions national. Or conversely, can generate negative precedents that pass over our borders, ignoring international commitments and locally affect the environment, human security and the economy.

- In Panama there are 39 wetlands * (coastal and inland), many of which are threatened by uncontrolled use of its resources, pollution, alteration of water flow, or that are being filled for construction, all this, without climatic phenomena also affect them.
- The Republic of Panama, as a party and signatory to the Ramsar Convention, has achieved the designation of five sites as Wetlands of International Importance: Panama Bay, Gulf of Montijo, Damani-Guariviara, Punta PatiƱo and San San-Pond Sak. As a result, these wetlands are preserved to continue to provide important goods and services to the Panamanian population, including being the source of income for many families who depend directly on these wetlands.
* Data obtained from ³ Inventory of inland and coastal wetlands of Panama (CREHO)

For more information contact:  
Antonio Chang, Attorney focused on Environmental Law. Environmental Advocacy Center - Panama. Tel: (507) 236-0866 / 0868
Larissa De Leon Gutierrez, Communications Officer MarViva Panama. Tel: (507) 317-4350 / 6677-7631 larissa.deleon @  
Luis Alberto Sierra, ANCON Communications Officer. Tel: (507) 314-0050 / 6040-0027

Claudia Sanchez
International Mangrove Network

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