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Mangrove Rehabilitation program in Las Lajas, San Felix

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Wetlands International, to the rescue of the mangroves of the Laguna de Las Lajas


Mirta Rodríguez P.

After more than 70 years of being degraded by the hand of man, some 150 hectares of wetlands of the laguna de Las Lajas, in the district of San Felix, province of Chiriqui, are revegetated with mangrove.

The recovery of this ecosystem, important for the province, the environment and its biodiversity, is part of the project of Protection of reserves and sinks in the Mangrove Forests and Protected Areas of Panama, that Wetlands International develops in the country.

The revegetation has as main objective to improve the water capacity of the area, to the mangroves and the wetland can be recovered in a more accelerated, since according to the specialists is being discontinued for many years.

The replanting


The mangrove planting day began in the early hours of the morning. At about 8:30 a.m. more than 50 people , between members of Wetlands, the network Panamanglar, officials of the Ministry of the Environment (MiAmbiente), and authority of the Aquatic Resources (ARAP), activists, volunteers, and others came to the site to participate.

There the sun was stifling and the breeze almost zero as punishment of the damage perpetrated decades ago, at a time when there were no laws prohibiting the award of wetland areas and coastal marine areas of the country (Political Constitution of the Republic of Panama in 1972).

This is the third day of reforestation of the organization in the laguna de Las Lajas, a site where there are still traces of the old trunks of trees that predominated in the area hundreds of years ago.

This time propabulos were planted approximately 2.000, mangrove seedlings and seeds of various species: white mangrove, red, cork oak and pinuelo, explained Sander Carpay, Wetlands International.

While in the previous day, in November last year, planted more than 12.000 mangrove seeds. The seeds have been produced in nurseries.

To date, there have already been planted around more than 12 thousand seedlings in the laguna de Las Lajas, an area whose lands are privately owned (of the Family Career and Motta) but their owners agreed to their recovery and care according to carpay.

The precise scientific reason for the degradation is still unknown, but it is intended that has been the product of the extension of the agricultural and farming activities in the place. 'There are several hypotheses of what has affected the area of wetlands and mangroves of the Laguna de Las Lajas, but are still in the research," said Wetlands and in charge of the Project, Andrew Fraiz.

However, Carpay was more went further to ensure that the site had been degraded by a pipeline that was made to stop the entry of salt water from the sea to the lagoon, causing the deterioration of the existing vegetation at that time.

The biologist and a member of the Advocacy Center (CIAM) Ambientan Isaiah Ramos agrees with the hypothesis of Carpay, adding that the process of deterioration that has occurred in the Laguna de Las Lajas is something similar to what today is happening in different areas of the country, such as the Gulf of Montijo and Matusagarati.

Therefore, in addition to re-vegetate, as part of the process of the project, seeks to remove the channels that were constructed over 60 years for the flow of water to happen again and again to recover the entire area, Ramos said.

Healthy wetlands can reduce the damage caused by the disaster and speed recovery, however all over the world are receding at an alarming rate. At least 64% of them have disappeared from 1990, warn the international environmental agencies.

Panama has about 1.600 square kilometers of mangrove forest. But it is estimated that from 1930 to date, has lost 68 per cent of the existing mangrove coverage in the country, cited the recent studies of the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI) and other researchers from international universities.

"There are currently only a few patches of mangroves that are there, but you have to understand that a wetland goes beyond merely mangrove area, includes fangales, cativales, meadows and a whole series of marine and coastal ecosystems," said Ramos, who noted that the initiative to reforest is linked to the alliance of the 1 million hectares.

The reforestation day Las Lajas was carried out within the framework of the IV Meeting of Communities and journalists of the Panamanglar network focusing on the topic on ecosystem-based adaptation in coastal marine areas.

La covocatoria fue en San Félix, Chiriquí

Participaron miembros de Wetlands, Panamanglar ARAP y MiAmbiente.

Se plantaron unos 2,000 propábulos, plantones y semillas de mangle de diversas especies: mangle blanco, rojo, alcornoque y piñuelo,


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