|Western Sandpipers at Panama Bay. Photo: Karl Kaufmann, courtesy Audubon Panama|
In 2009, over 80,000 ha of the Panama Bay Wetland became a National Protected Area. However, in May this year, legal protected status was withdrawn because of pressure for urban and resort development, including hotels and golf courses. At the same time, regulations on mangrove cutting have been relaxed. Developers are reported to be at work within the Ramsar site boundary.
A coalition of 40 groups, including our BirdLife partner, the Panama Audubon Society, continues to push for protections to be reinstated. (Nature Canada has contributed more than $10,000 to this effort, thanks to our members' support.)
The Panama Bay is a critical migratory stopover site along a chain of wetlands stretching from Alaska through British Columbia and down into northern South America. It provides key migration stopover habitat for two million shorebirds from the United States and Canada annually, making it one of the most important shorebird sites anywhere in the Western Hemisphere.
Each fall, virtually the entire population of Western Sandpipers travels through Boundary Bay in British Columbia, down along the Pacific west coast to Panama Bay. Both bays are globally significant Important Bird Area. Through the Important Bird Areas program, we are working with BC Nature and its partners to conserve the Boundary Bay IBA for future generations of birds and people, and Nature Canada has worked with Panama Audubon Society for nearly a decade to conserve Panama Bay.
Because of this site's importance, the Bay of Panama has also been recognized as a Wetland of International Importance in 2003 under the Ramsar Convention, and designated a Site of Hemispheric Importance by the Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network.
Our U.S. BirdLife partner, the National Audubon Society, has an action alert online you can use to send a letter to Panama's government asking them to save the Panama Bay Wetlands.