A Shared Landscape in Parita Bay for Shorebirds and People in Panama

Photo of landscape of Parita

On Friday, March 15, the mayors and deputy mayors of eight municipalities in Panama’s Parita Bay signed an agreement to guarantee environmental protection against climate change, organized and regenerative development, and the promotion of culture and tourism in this region on Panama’s Pacific coast.

This bay is one of 170 priority sites for migratory shorebirds in the Pacific Flyway identified by the Pacific Shorebird Conservation Initiative.  The migratory nature of shorebirds makes them especially vulnerable to habitat degradation. Changes to ecosystems such as wetlands, grasslands, beaches, mudflats, mangroves, and tundra demand that we act now to conserve and restore these important habitats, which also provide homes and livelihoods for people. For example, protecting mangroves and salt marshes is critical because they are nursery grounds for fisheries. Marshes, wetlands, and grasslands capture carbon and help mitigate the effects of climate change.

Since 2022, the Ramsar Regional Center for the Western Hemisphere – CREHO, together with 2021 Coastal Solutions Fellow and coordinator of the Parita Bay Program, Andreina Pernia, has worked alongside Audubon Panamá and district authorities on the first draft of the “Intermunicipal Agreement between the Municipalities of Antón, Penonomé, Natá, Aguadulce, Santa María, Parita, Chitré and Los Santos to Promote Cooperation for the Sustainable Development of Parita Bay”, with the objective of fostering collaboration and regenerative development in the region.

This agreement seeks to consolidate local and regional efforts to address the challenges of climate change, such as coastal erosion, sea level rise, and land use changes to protect these important ecosystems, while promoting other shorebird-friendly economic activities such as agriculture, aquaculture, and salt production, as well as increasing tourism and cultural offerings, and ensuring adequate urban management. 

During this meeting, the municipal delegates, together with CREHO as well as local and international collaborators, were able to discuss governance issues, shared landscapes, and the development of regional and local tourism, which finalized with the signing of a map of the region to be protected. This agreement focuses on highlighting the benefits to the communities and their inhabitants, promoting economic and environmental protection for future generations. 

This initiative is also the basis for the implementation of joint activities in this region of international importance, as Andreina explains: “Parita Bay is one of the most relevant coastal-marine productive systems in the country, and being able to reach a consensus among all the authorities that share this territory is very important to guarantee its long-term conservation.  Following this agreement, the bay is jointly articulated by the eight municipalities, that’s why we say that Parita Bay is a shared landscape”.

Coastal Solutions Fellowship Program

The Coastal Solutions Fellows Program builds and supports an international community to design and implement solutions that address coastal challenges across the Pacific Americas Flyway. Our main goal is to conserve coastal habitats and shorebird populations by building the knowledge, resources, and skills of Latin American professionals, and by fostering collaborations among multiple disciplines and sectors.