Vital Central American wetland under threat from developers14/12/2012 07:15:17 Panama's Upper Bay a vital stop over for 2 million birds
December 2012. One of the most important coastal wetlands in the Americas is under threat. The Upper Bay of Panama, an Important Bird Area, is a vital stopover site for migrating shorebirds. Up to two million individuals of 30 species use it on their way south after breeding.
Ramsar site but protected status has been withdrawn
The bay provides essential ecosystem services to the people of Panama. It acts as a "nursery" for fish and shellfish, contributing $86 million a year to the country's economy in commercial fishing revenues. The wetlands and mangroves also filter and purify sewage and industrial effluent, preventing them entering the marine food chain, and act as a buffer protecting the city from flooding and extreme weather.
BirdLife Partner the Panama Audubon Society and a coalition of local and international environmental groups including National Audubon (BirdLife Partner in the USA) are taking legal action for protected status to be restored, and working with local communities to make sure their voices are heard.
"If these wetlands are lost, you break the chain of wetlands shorebirds need for successful migrations", says Rosabel Miro, Panama Audubon's executive director.