Panamá, sábado 1 de marzo de 2008
UNESCO says park is threatened by dams
|Gabriel Rodríguez/la prensa|
|damage: Scientists say the Parque Internacional La Amistad, which includes part of one of the largest virgin forests in Central America, is at risk from “human intrusion and inadequate management.”991749|
Environmental groups in Panama are pleased that representatives of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) visited the Parque Internacional La Amistad (PILA) in Bocas del Toro last week and prepared a report confirming their assertions that the PILA is threatened by “human intrusion and inadequate management.” The report specifically mentioned four hydroelectic projects that will “drastically alter the flow of several rivers and affect aquatic life.”
Linsa Barrera of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) holds the opinion that the park has not been sufficiently managed, owing to a “deficient management plan developed by Panama’s Autoridad Nacional del Ambiente (Anam). Environmental lawyer Susana Serracín said that Anam had approved “deficient” environmental impact studies in order to grant concessions to the hydroelectric companies working in the area.
What most worries Barrera is the construction of hydroelectric dams within the PILA’s buffer zone, an area known as the Bosque Protector Palo Seco. “The rivers that are going to be used for the dams come from the park,” she said, and, echoing concerns expressed in the UNESCO report, added that the dams will “significantly affect aquatic life.”
The environmentalists’s diagnosis of the situation appears to be clear: human activities are “seriously” threatening the PILA, which includes part of one of the largest virgin forests in Central America.
Natalia Young, national director of an Anam unit devoted to protecting environmental quality, disagrees with the findings and conclusions of the international scientists whose studies and analysis informed the UNESCO report, arguing that threats to the PILA are no different than those in other protected areas. According to Young, the Bosque Protector Palo Seco will not be affected by the infrastructure projects because of the application “adequate mitigation measures, compensation and restoration.”