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Efforts to Protect Panama's Bona Island From Development

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Smithsonian asks to protect Panama's paradise island from tourism development

Thu, 09/20/2018 - 17:06

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The Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI) today asked to protect a paradise and uninhabited island of the Panamanian Pacific from the growing tourist development and turn it into a refuge for wildlife.

The scientific center has just begun a study on birds on Bona island, located in the Pacific very close to the Panama Canal, in an attempt to promote its preservation because "it is a nesting and breeding site little studied for thousands of tropical seabirds. 

The islet is only 10 nautical miles from the popular tourist Taboga island and "faces development pressures when it could be an ideal attraction for the growing ecotourism industry in Panama," the institute said in a statement.

"If we gather enough valuable data on birds, and work with preservation groups, we can go to the Ministry of the Environment with a proposal to create a Wildlife Refuge," said marine biologist Héctor Guzmán.

The study focuses on the genetics of populations, bird-fishermen interaction and the impact of plastics, explained the Smithsonian, which uses drones to estimate bird populations.

The Smithsonian is a recognized research center that depends on the US Government and whose headquarters for Latin America is located in Panama.

 

https://www.panamatoday.com/panama/smithsonian-asks-protect-panamas-paradise-island-tourism-development-7909

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Government flip kills island oil terminal

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Birds will remain protected on Isla Boná

Posted 26/04/2019

Panama’s  National Economic Council  (Cena), made up of different ministries, did an about-face on Friday, April 26  and said in a statement that it "rendered ineffective" the under wraps lease signed between the Municipality of Taboga and the company Bona Pacific Corp. for creating an oil terminal on Isla Boná. considered a sanctuary of marine birds.

 The Cena, which initially endorsed the contract in  March, explained that it changed its opinion "unanimously" after receiving complaints from the  Comptroller General and the Ministry of Environment, which says that Isla Boná is part of the Panama Maritime Corridor.

"The purpose of the lease would be incompatible with the purposes for which this Maritime Corridor was created," the statement added.

The 74 hectares island located near the Panama Canal, is a unique ecosystem where thousands of marine birds nest and reproduce each year, among other species.

Environmentalists have been protesting for several weeks to demand the suspension of the project and that the island be declared a wildlife refuge to be totally protected.

The protection of the island is a demand also from international organizations such as the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI), one of the most important centers in the United States says an EFE News Agency report.

The project that the company Bona Pacific Corp (BPC) had planned to build on the island - and which was also opposed by the hotel sector - is a high-altitude oil terminal, which required an investment of $260 million.

The work included the construction of a 50-meter floating dock, a heliport, and eight tanks with a capacity of 100,000 barrels of oil each, according to the company's website.

The terminal was to supply fuel to the thousands of vessels that use the interoceanic canal, through which 6% of world trade passes.

 

https://www.newsroompanama.com/environment/government-flip-kills-island-oil-terminal

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President sidesteps Isla Bona environmental  appeal  

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Posted 23/05/2019

The fight by environmental groups for the bill that declaring declares Boná Island as a protected area continues as their appeal to have it included to be included in the upcoming extraordinary sessions was ignored by President  Varela.

 The Cabinet Council did not include the bill 167 - approved by the Environment Commission of the National Assembly on April 24 and which declares Boná Island located about 10 nautical miles from Taboga, a protected area.

 The initiative was not discussed in the first debate. Environmental groups, such as the Center for Environmental Advocacy (CIAM), asked the President to include the bill in extraordinary sessions.

Luisa Arauz, of CIAM's legal team, regretted that the president has not included the Boná island project and at the same time expressed concern about the inclusion of the draft law contract between the State and Minera Panamá.

"Evidently there is a lack of political will to protect the environment," said  Arauz.

The lawyer  said that they will not be left "with their arms crossed" and asked President Varela that, since he did not include the bill in extraordinary sessions, to approve an executive decree that declares Boná Island as a protected area.

The concerns of environmental groups arise from the intention to build a petroleum project on the island that is considered a migratory bird sanctuary.

 

https://www.newsroompanama.com/environment/president-sidesteps-isla-bona-environmental-appeal-1

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