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Panama Forest Figures

Forest Cover
Total forest area: 4,294,000 ha
% of land area: 57.7%

Primary forest cover: 3,023,000 ha
% of land area: 40.6%
% total forest area: 70.4%

Deforestation Rates, 2000-2005
Annual change in forest cover: -2,600 ha
Annual deforestation rate: -0.1%
Change in defor. rate since '90s: -61.7%
Total forest loss since 1990: -82,000 ha
Total forest loss since 1990:-1.9%

Primary or "Old-growth" forests
Annual loss of primary forests: -43200 ha
Annual deforestation rate: -1.3%
Change in deforestation rate since '90s: 5.8%
Primary forest loss since 1990: -216,000 ha
Primary forest loss since 1990:-18.4%

Forest Classification
Public: 9.6%
Private: 90.4%
Other: 0%
Production: 7.2%
Protection: 21.9%
Conservation: 34%
Social services: 0%
Multiple purpose: 36.8%
None or unknown: n/a

Forest Area Breakdown
Total area: 4,294,000 ha
Primary: 3,023,000 ha
Modified natural: 1,210,000 ha
Semi-natural: n/a
Production plantation: 60,000 ha
Production plantation: 1,000 ha

Plantations, 2005: 61,000 ha
% of total forest cover: 1.4%
Annual change rate (00-05): 3,800,000 ha

Carbon storage
Above-ground biomass: 980 M t
Below-ground biomass: 258 M t

Area annually affected by
Fire: n/a
Insects: n/a
Diseases: n/a

Number of tree species in IUCN red list
Number of native tree species: 1,200
Critically endangered: 19
Endangered: 71
Vulnerable: 106

Wood removal 2005
Industrial roundwood: 53,000 m3 o.b.
Wood fuel: 410,000 m3 o.b.

Value of forest products, 2005
Industrial roundwood: $3,862,000
Wood fuel: $2,729,000
Non-wood forest products (NWFPs): n/a
Total Value: $6,591,000

More forest statistics for Panama

Panama loses more than 1 percent of its primary forest cover every year. Deforestation directly threatens one of the country's most important sources of income, the Panama Canal. The tropical cloud forest of the canal watershed ensures the flow of billions of gallons of clean water necessary to operate the canal locks (roughly two billion gallons per day). Population growth in these forests has resulted in a decline of forest cover from 80 percent (1952) to less than 15 percent (1994) of the watershed, a development that increases soil erosion into the canal, which can clog locks and create shoals that ground ships. In 1998, below-average rainfall from el Niño forced the canal to limit the amount of cargo large ships could carry. In an effort to safeguard the canal, the Panamanian government has protected remaining watershed forests while launching reforestation initiatives.

Most deforestation and forest degradation in Panama results from road construction, logging, industrial gold mining, and colonization, which leads to clearing for agriculture, pasture land, and fuelwood collection. Of these activities, colonization is responsible for the bulk of forest loss.

Road construction and other infrastructure projects in Panama's Darien Gap is of ongoing concern to environmentalists who fear that such endeavors will open the largely inaccessible region to settlement by colonists and development by loggers.

Logging—especially illegal logging—has increased in Panama since the early 1990s. In 2002, the country officially produced some 111,000 cubic meters of wood products, but more wood was illicitly extracted. Still, the collection of fuelwood results in a far higher amount of wood loss from the country's forests.

Panama has tremendous potential for eco-tourism given its rich marine habitats and forest biodiversity. The country has several excellent protected areas including
Coiba, an island in the Pacific; Barro Colorado Island—home to one of the world's leading tropical research centers, the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institution—and Bocas del Toro on the Caribbean side of Panama. On the Pacific side, Panama has several excellent, but largely deserted, surf spots.

Panama pictures

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Suggested reading - Books
Unless otherwise specified, this article was written by Rhett A. Butler [Bibliographic citation for this page]

Other resources

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Last updated: 5 Feb 2006