Recently, the results of the Study and Monitoring of the Mangroves of the Bay of Panama were made known at the facilities of the National Secretariat of Science, Technology and Innovation (SENACYT), based at City of Knowledge. A study carried out over a period of 2 years, specifically in the mangroves of Juan Díaz and Panamá Viejo, where an affectation associated with the severity of the El Niño phenomenon was detected between 2015-2016. The Ministry of the Environment informed SENACYT that the wetlands of the Ramsar Site of the Bay of Panama were being significantly affected, so it requested to identify economic resources to conduct a study and quickly diagnose the possible causes of affectations observed in these mangroves.
“We as the City of Knowledge Foundation, being natural partners with SENACYT, collaborated with the logistics from the beginning and decided to get involved in the preparation of this study by accompanying and providing the ideal spaces and exchange between scientists, in order to raise DATA that could determine the causes of this phenomenon,” said Sandy Mosquera, Dynamization Manager of the FCdS.
SENACYT and the City of Knowledge Foundation convened an interdisciplinary research group to analyze the phenomenon. To carry out the first analysis in the study area, a group was formed by scientists linked to the SENACYT, the National Metrology Center (CENAMEP), the School of Biology of the University of Panama, the Technological University of Panama, the Institute of Scientific Research and High Technology Services of Panama (INDICASAT-AIP), the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI), the Mangrove Project of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the City of Knowledge Foundation (FCdS), the Audubon Society of Panama, and international experts.
The research group carried out insect monitoring, ecological and physiological evaluation of the mangrove forest, fungal and disease monitoring, environmental quality assessment, determination of carbon storage level, geophysical survey of the study area, geographical analysis of the area of the mangrove and monitoring through aerial images of the state of the mangrove throughout the Bay of Panama. In the same way, the analysis of the territory and the concentration of the population were incorporated according to the basins they occupy to analyze the impacts they generate in the lower basin and the mangroves. Through visits, a large number of domestic and industrial solid wastes were discovered within the mangroves, which suffocate their root or pneumatophores systems. These anthropic activities in the basins studied allow an accelerated process of mangrove death.
Mangroves constitute one of the most diverse ecosystems in terms of the number of species they house, from the roots to the canopy of their forest, and represent one of our main assets. However, it is a fragile ecosystem at risk of disappearing. Thus, we require specific research and conservation actions organized and executed in conjunction with the authorities, as well as better informed and organized population, that can help reverse the deterioration process of the economic and environmental services offered by mangroves.
The scientists, hand in hand with the institutions that support this study, call on all the actors involved: local, national authorities, business groups, communities in the basins where there are mangroves, academics and scientists to join forces and develop a plan to recover the dynamics and services of the mangroves.
The task is urgent, as mangroves are key to food security and constitute our first line of defense against natural phenomena and mitigation against climate change.