ENRIQUE V. IGLESIAS
Inter-American Development Bank
U. S. A.
Dear Dr. Iglesias:
We are writing to inform you of a great
danger that is threatening our beloved Parque Nacional Volcán Barú (PNVB) western of
Parque Nacional Volcán Barú is an important place not only for
The habitats most conducive to
bio-diversity can be found here in the tropics, especially in the cloud forest.
However we are struggling together to keep
what is left of our treasures for future generations. There have been many
joint efforts between local and international organisations
to preserve biological wealth.
to the larger Parque Internacional la Amistad (PILA), which covers much of the
These lands are also being connected to
The remoter areas of this 'bridge' serve
as refuges. Though
President Mireya Moscoso and her government are trying to build an "eco-tourism route" to connect the communities of Boquete and Cerro Punta. This paved road would run directly through Parque Nacional Volcán Barú, the river bed of the Rio Caldera, and present sight of el Sendero Los Quetzales (the Trail of the Quetzals).
Such a road has the potential to cause massive deforestation and be an environmental and social disaster.
There is a very active body of local opposition which includes (foremost) Panamanians who have lived here all of their lives. It also includes people who have made the choice to move to this area, and care for it greatly. We are concerned about the affect that deforestation, increased traffic and all of the accompanying ills (such as rising pollution and crime) would have on our quality of life, and the quality of tourism here. Not only will deforestation be caused during the actual construction, but a road will also make the park more accessible to illegal intrusion including slash and burn farming. It could damage the watershed which the cloud forest regulates and protects. Deforestation can cause rivers to dry, flooding (after much rain), and the overproduction of silt. There are six rivers which originate in Parque Nacional Volcán Barú. One of them, the Rio Caldera, provides hydroelectricity to the whole country and water for rural aqueducts.
This project has been billed by the
We are hoping that your expertise can be added to our efforts. We believe that international attention is very important at this juncture. Such attention may help to nudge organisations such as the World Bank, (which helps to fund the Biological Corridor Project) or Interamerican Development Bank, into action.
Welcome to Panama, welcome to Parque Nacional Volcán Barú. We are inviting you for a visit to this magnificent "protected" area.
Please for more information, please contact us.
M. Sc. Ariel Rodríguez Vargas/Biologist-Zoologist/Expertise en Conservation Biology and Wildlife Management/Center of Studies of Biotic Resources -CEREB
Faculty of Natural Sciences, Universidad de Panamá, PANAMÁ
Cc: Presidencia de la República de Panamá.
Cc: Isaías Lesmes - Representante Encargado del BID en Panamá