PANAMA

Expansion of the Cerro Chucantí Nature Reserve

Project Cost: $112,500

Funding Raised: $112,500

$983 per acre (1 acre = 43,560 sq ft)

100% of your donation goes towards Conservation Action.

2X The Impact

Thanks to generous support from our donors, we have successfully reached our fundraising goal for this project.

Cerro Chucantí, an isolated massif or “sky island” in eastern Panama, rises from sea level to 4,721 feet in elevation and sustains a diverse cloud forest, as well as other tropical forest ecosystems. The closest peaks with similar elevation and vegetation are found at least 90 miles away. The geographic isolation of the Cerro Chucantí mountaintop allows its flora and fauna to differentiate considerably such that it contains a number of locally endemic rainforest species found nowhere else on Earth. There have been many discoveries of species new to science at this irreplaceable site, including salamanders, frogs and snakes. Unfortunately, the rainforests in Cerro Chucantí are under significant threat from slash and burn agriculture, logging and cattle ranching.

Rainforest Trust and local partner Asociación Adopta el Bosque Panamá (ADOPTA) seek $112,500 to expand the Cerro Chucantí Nature Reserve by 127 acres.

Photo: Interior view of Cerro Chucantí Nature Reserve. Photo courtesy of ADOPTA.

Fast Facts

Location:
Darien, eastern Panama

Size/ Acres:
127 acres

Key Species:
Black-headed Spider Monkey (CR), Baird’s Tapir (EN), Great Green Macaw (EN), Chucantí Salamander (Bolitoglossa chucantiensis – likely CR)

Habitat:
Cloud forest

Threats:
Deforestation, conversion to pasture land

Action:
Land purchase to expand Cerro Chucantí Nature Reserve

Local Partner:
Asociación Adopta el Bosque Panamá (ADOPTA)

Financial Need:
$112,500

Price per Acre:
$983

Total Carbon Storage (MtCO2):
18,000

Biodiversity

Cerro Chucantí is home to many species new to science, and there is a high potential for many more to be identified.

In 2008, the dark brown Chucantí Salamander (Bolitoglossa chucantiensis) was discovered in this area, and a new frog species called Maje Dink Frog (Diasporus majeensis sp. nov.) was found in Cerro Chucantí and formally described in 2016. Both the Tantilla berguidoi (a centipede snake) and Heliconia berguidoi (a Heliconia plant species) were recently described from this site. The endemic Panamanian Climbing Rat, which was only known from two specimens collected in the 1950s, was recently rediscovered at Cerro Chucantí after decades without any recorded sightings. There are still a few snake species, at least three frog species, one salamander species and over a dozen ant species awaiting formal description. There is strong evidence to suggest that many of these species, which have only been recorded near Cerro Chucantí, are genuinely restricted to the area. Because of their limited range and the ongoing threats to their habitats, it is likely that these species will qualify as either Critically Endangered or Endangered. Cerro Chucantí is also home to a number of species already recognized as being at high-risk for extinction, including Endangered species such as the Great Green Macaw and Baird’s Tapir, and Vulnerable species such as the Giant Anteater and Great Curassow. Iconic animals such as Mountain Lions and Harpy Eagles reside within Cerro Chucantí as well, and because the Critically Endangered Black-headed Spider Monkey was found here, its documented range will officially be extended.  

Photo: Critically Endangered Brown-headed Spider Monkey. Photo courtesy of Michael Moens.
 

Challenges

Forest destruction and conversion to pastureland continue near the reserve.

Owners of key properties are already planning to clear existing cloud forest to expand their farming and cattle ranching operations. Purchasing this land will allow the local partner to secure the forest and prevent any further clearing, especially as new colonists are encroaching on thousands of unclaimed acres.  

Photo: Forest clearing. Photo courtesy of ADOPTA.
 

Communities

Community members are engaged in the conservation efforts through employment and outreach, further supporting the importance of the reserve.

Although no communities live within the boundaries of the protected area, surrounding communities are supportive of the efforts to protect the mountain and watershed that provides important ecosystem services to them. Community members are engaged in the conservation efforts through employment and outreach, further supporting the importance of the reserve.  

Photo: ADOPTA engaging Panama City to increase awareness of conservation activities. Photo courtesy of ADOPTA.
 

Solutions

Rainforest Trust and local partner seek $112,500 to expand the Cerro Chucantí Nature Reserve by 127 acres.

Once the land has been purchased, we will spearhead an effort to ensure the area is secure and any threats facing the forest are eliminated. Using forest guards and working in conjunction with the local government, patrols will ensure the forest remains intact and poaching is stopped. An important part of the long-term strategy is ensuring community support, and the local partner’s mission includes educating, training and engaging the community in conservation activities. (Photo: Visiting scientists and students are instrumental in long-term sustainability of Chucanti. Photo courtesy of ADOPTA.)