Four vulnerable species of flora, eight species of mammals protected by law and ten species of endangered birds are just a sample of the biodiversity found in the twenty-one hectares of protected habitat currently known as the Biological Reserve Dr. Rodrigo Tarté, according to its Management Plan made by the Nature and Science Foundation 507, at the request of the City of Knowledge Foundation.
The reserve is located in Clayton, occupying two globes of adjacent lands between the Camino de Cruces National Park and the City of Knowledge. It bears the name of Dr. Rodrigo Tarté as a tribute to his career and his innumerable contributions to the City of Knowledge Foundation (FCdS, for its acronym in Spanish).
A bit of history
These lands were not always considered a natural reserve. According to the General Plan of Use, Conservation and Development of the Canal Area, the projected use for this place corresponded to the category of “mixed urban high-density use”. However, the fate of this area changed in 2009. That year, the FCdS made a request for the concession of these lands to the Ministry of Economy and Finance (MEF) and the Interoceanic Region Authority (ARI) for the creation of an ecological reserve.
The process continued until 2011 when the Administrative Unit for Reverted Areas (UABR, for its acronym in Spanish), belonging to the Ministry of Economy and Finance, issued a favorable resolution with which the use and administration of the two plots adding up to 21.8 hectares of forest were transferred, free of charge and for a period of three years, to the Foundation City of Knowledge.
In September of 2014, an extension of the concession was requested, which was accepted on the condition that all the guidelines issued by the Ministry of Environment were met in order to preserve protected areas adjoining the Reserve, as well as the National Camino de Cruces Park.
Finally, in October of 2017, by means of a note issued by the UABR and the MEF, the approval was finally granted to continue advancing with the studies and characterization planned for the site.
Currently the City of Knowledge Foundation holds a concession granted for the use and management of these lands through negotiations with government entities.
A natural treasure with concrete plans
The Foundation plans to use the area for the development of research studies on different topics, environmental education in situ (living classroom), as well as an ecological tourism site for small groups and with specific interests such as bird watching, meditation and other activities that allow the conservation and preservation of this natural heritage site.
The importance of this reserve lies in the fact that it is part of a broad natural biological corridor that comprises the Soberanía National Park, the Camino de Cruces National Park and reaches the Metropolitan Natural Park. The reserve is a key piece in the conservation and preservation of important natural areas, as it constitutes a patch of urban forest bordering the city and the area of the Canal Basin, which is also fit for the growth of flora and the fauna in the Hydrographic Basin of the Panama Canal, a space that provides 95 percent of the drinking water for the inhabitants of the cities of Colón, Panamá and San Miguelito.
The consolidation of the Dr. Rodrigo Tarté Biological Reserve is an example of a joint effort framing a set of border forests that include different governance figures: the Soberanía and Camino de Cruces National Parks (managed by the State); the Private Biological Reserve (managed by the City of Knowledge Foundation); and Metropolitan Natural Park (managed by a Board of Trustees). The reserve represents, in the same way, a formula that has produced positive results and, in addition, something to replicate in other areas.
Such a model is worthy of continuation; and the Foundation remains committed to generating greater spaces for civil participation that allow for the integration the scientific community, residents, visitors and users of the City of Knowledge to be all part of the sustainable management of this space.
Soon, the Dr. Rodrigo Tarté Biological Reserve will be an area dedicated to the use and enjoyment of environmental services provided by nature within the peri-urban area of Clayton and the City of Knowledge Campus, which will, in turn, contribute to the Foundation’s vision of providing an environment that promotes the community’s well-being.
Photos by: Mateo Giraldo, Karla Aparicio, Ricardo Mazzocchi y Ángel Sosa.