Photo credit: Noel Rowe
Majé Mountain Range, Province of Darién, Republic of Panamá.
Long-term protection of a cloud forest ecosystem and its endemic and threatened species.
Cerro Chucantí is an isolated massif in southern Panamá that rises from sea level to 1,444 m in elevation and sustains a diverse cloud forest tropical ecosystem. Its geographic isolation has allowed its fauna and flora to differentiate considerably over millennia. As a result, Cerro Chucantí is home to many endemic and threatened species of reptiles and amphibians, plants, birds and mammals (see Conservation Value, below).
Over the last two decades there has been increased pressure to clear the land around Cerro Chucantí for cattle ranching.
“…what struck me as sad was that even at such a remote location there was ongoing slash and burning of the rainforest, and most of the land around my campsite had already been cleared for cattle ranching. On a subsequent visit to Cerro Chucantí, I once again saw more rainforest cleared and burned to ashes nearby. That is when I couldn't take it anymore, and decided that I had to do something to stop this madness!” -- Guido Berguido
Actions & Results:
In 2016, ICFC and Rainforest Trust supported the purchase of three properties totaling 105 hectares to expand the Reserva Natural Cerro Chucantí to ~6 km2. In addition, a donation from an ICFC donor.enabled a down-payment on a fourth property (64 ha), and that purchase was completed in 2017 (thanks to IUCN Netherlands).
In 2018 ICFC supported a socioeconomic study as required by the Panamanian Ministry of Environment (MiAmbiente) for official protected area designation of the Cerro Chucantí Massif Protected Area..
In 2021, thanks to an ICFC donor, ICFC is supporting one full-time ranger for nine months at Cerro Chucantí. His duties include regular patrols and educating neighbours and community members about applicable environmental laws and regulations, and the need to enforce them.
Project Field Partner:
Land acquisition and socioeconomic study (2016-2019; ICFC portion): CA$318,568
2021 budget (ICFC portion): US$5,000 for reserve protection/management
Size of Area Involved:
The size of the entire Cerro Chucantí nature reserve is 594 hectares. Compare with:
— almost 4 times the size of Toronto's High Park (161)
— almost 2 times the size of New York's Central Park (41 ha)
In More Depth...
Cerro Chucantí is an isolated massif in southern Panamá that rises from sea level to 1,439 m in elevation and sustains a diverse cloud forest tropical ecosystem. The geographic isolation of Cerro Chucantí (located in the Province of Darién within the Tumbes-Chocó-Magdalena biodiversity hotspot and bordered by the Mesoamerica biodiversity hotspot to the north and the Tropical Andes biodiversity hotspot to the east) has allowed its fauna and flora to differentiate considerably over millennia. As a result, Cerro Chucantí is home to many endemic (and critically endangered!) species such as: the Chucantí Centipede Snake (Tantilla berguidoi), the Chucantí Salamander (Bolitoglossa chucantiensis), a newly described frog (Diasporus majeensis sp. nov.), two newly discovered flowering plants in the Araceae family (Anthurium annularum) and (Anthurium chucantiense), and a new flowering plant in the Heliconiaceae family (Heliconia sp. nov.), to mention just a few. In addition, due to its remoteness, it has also become a sanctuary for other critically endangered, endangered, and/or vulnerable species like: the critically endangered (CR) Colombian Spider Monkey (Ateles fusciceps rufiventris), endangered (EN) Great Green Macaw (Ara ambiguous), and Baird´s Tapir (Tapirus bairdii); the vulnerable (VU) Giant Anteater (Myrmecophaga tridactyla), Harpy Eagle (Harpia harpyja), and Great Curassow (Crax rubra); and the endemic Panamanian Climbing Rat (Tylomys panamensis), listed as ‘data deficient’ in the IUCN-Red List, and recently re-discovered at Cerro Chucantí after decades without any records. Lastly, the Darién is the largest region of Panamá, yet the least populated. This condition has allowed the Darién to maintain and boast one of the last vast tracts of primary rainforest in Central America. However, over the last two decades there has been increased pressure to clear the land around Cerro Chucantí for cattle ranching.
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