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1 Fen Lane,

Barnes,

London,

SW13 9WT

United Kingdom

 

Saturday, January 03, 2004

 

Señora Mireya Moscoso

Presidenta de Panama

(BY E-MAIL)

 

Dear Señora Presidenta,

 

I am a professional ecologist employed as a policy advisor to the Mayor of London, here in the UK. My partner and I have recently returned from visiting your beautiful country, having spent a very enjoyable three-week vacation there as eco-tourists. Whilst in the province of Chiriqui we learned of the proposal to construct a surfaced highway for motor vehicles between Boquete and Cerro Punta, on the present line of the world-renowned long-distance walking trail (the ‘Sendero de los Quetzales’). We feel compelled to write to you to express our utter horror and dismay that you are pursuing such a shortsighted and irresponsible scheme.

 

The famous trail allows easy and sensitive access for both domestic and international visitors to a pristine section of the Volcan Baru National Park, which is adjacent and contiguous with the Talamanca Range (La Amistad) World Heritage Site designated by UNESCO. The Volcan Baru National Park is also a Key Area for threatened birds within an Endemic Bird Area as listed by the UK-based wildlife conservation NGO Birdlife International, as well as its local affiliate, the Panama Audubon Society.

 

The proposed highway will promote widespread, illegal forest clearance within a wide corridor through the national park, causing considerable local habitat destruction and further fragmentation throughout its length. The original walking trail will be very effectively destroyed. We simply cannot comprehend why you would seek to damage Panama’s, and in particular Chiriqui’s, eco-tourism industry through such a rash and misguided action. As a native of the state, I am particularly surprised at your disregard for the long-term injury that this project will cause to Chiriqui’s economy.

 

As representative and experienced eco-tourists who have thoroughly enjoyed their visit to Panama, and who are able to objectively appreciate the importance of the trail in terms of its opportunities for relatively easy wildlife observation, we urgently ask that you halt the construction of this road and reconsider your objectives for the project.

 

Yours respectfully,

 

Michael J Waite                                Stephanie H Fudge

Senior Policy Adviser (Biodiversity)    Operations Manager, London Wetland Centre

Greater London Authority                     Wildfowl & Wetland Trust