The Spanish Colonial Fortifications at Portobelo-San Lorenzo that was built to protect their Caribbean interests are now listed as endangered. Situated in Central America, Panama boasts a rich history and diverse geography. The country prides in 5 listed World Heritage Sites with 3 of them being natural while 2 are cultural sites.
UNESCO World Heritage Sites In Panama
The La Amistad National Park and Talamanca Range-La Amistad Reserves
The La Amistad National Park and Talamanca Range-La Amistad Reserves is a natural heritage site that was inscribed by UNESCO in 1983. The national park and reserves enclose the Talamanca Mountains, the wildest and tallest mountain range in the Central American region. The mountain range is significant due to the high levels of endemism exhibited by its flora and fauna. The protected areas straddle both Costa Rica and Panama and contain some of the highest peaks of each country. The vast property is home to numerous ecosystems and landforms shaped by glaciers, such as lakes, rivers, and valleys. Oak forests, montane forests, tropical lowland forests in the territory provide a habitat for 215 mammals such as Jaguar and Puma. Abundant bird, reptile, amphibian, and fish species also abound in the region. With its incredible biodiversity and unique scenery, the La Amistad National Park and Talamanca Range-La Amistad Reserves are at the top of the main tourist destinations in Panama. The property is protected by a firm legal framework in the country. Shortage of funds has however been a hindrance to curb potential threats to the property such as human encroachment and over-development of tourism infrastructure. Proposed developments such as oil exploration, road construction, and mining activities have raised environmental concerns over their impacts to the territory.
Coiba National Park And Special Marine Protection Zone
The Coiba National Park and Special Marine Protection Zone was inscribed as a natural heritage site in 2005. Coiba Island is part of the Republic of Panama. Once a penal colony, Coiba Island and other 38 smaller islands together with the surrounding marine area make up the Coiba site. Due to years of separation of Coiba from the mainland, the island is home to a variety of endemic flora and fauna. Threatened animal species such as the crested eagle and scarlet macaw are found on the island. The surrounding marine area is home to an abundant marine life such as tiger sharks and whales. Ocean diving has become a popular tourist activity on the Island.
The islands’ continuing ecological processes make the territory a particularly important natural laboratory for biological research. The property’s protection is adequately provided for by the government and other environmental stakeholders. Unregulated tourism is a potential threat, however, in regards to the booming tourism on the property.
Darien National Park
Darien National Park has been a natural heritage site since 1981. The national park has a variety of habitats from beaches, mangroves and swamps, wetlands, and tropical forests. These habitats are home to an exceptionally rich flora and fauna. The park derives its major significance from being a bridge between the South and North American continents. The park is also home to two of Panama’s indigenous tribes.
The park is home to 169 identified mammals, including the near threatened jaguar, the endangered tapir, bush dog and the capybara. Avifauna in the park includes the harpy eagle, parrot, and the great green Macaw. The park is accorded state protection in collaboration with aid from several Non-Governmental Organizations. The remote location of the park affords it some level of protection although it is not entirely immune to human pressure. Proposed infrastructure such as roads has also been identified as potential threats to the park.
Panamá Viejo Archaeological Site and Historic District of Panamá
The Panamá Viejo Archaeological Site and Historic District of Panamá were inscribed as a cultural heritage site in 1997. The site dates back to 1519 as the oldest European settlement along the Pacific coastline. Burned to the ground in 1673, the settlement was located in Casco Viejo, the Old Quarters of Panama City.
Ruins of the town represent European medieval structure for a planned town. The ruins offer significant information on various aspects of the economy, social life and communication of the Spanish empire in Latin America. The rebuilt city still maintains the old streets and the different architectural influences from the Spanish, French and Americans. Cultural landmarks in the historic district included numerous churches, the Presidential Palace, numerous medieval houses and the Salón Bolivar. The property is protected through numerous regulatory frameworks. Urban developments in the Historic District are however potential threats to the integrity of the property.
Portobelo-San Lorenzo Caribbean Fortifications
The Portobelo-San Lorenzo Caribbean Fortifications has been a cultural site since 1980, and it has been listed as endangered. The forts were built by the Spanish colonialists to protect Panama City, which had been growing in significance in regards to trade. The forts were continuously attacked by pirates, and the remnants belong to the third reconstruction. The forts’ ruins are especially significant as they provide invaluable information regarding the defense systems used in the 17th and 18th centuries. Adequately protected in Panama, the ruins are a major tourist attraction in the country.
Crowd Pullers In Panama
The tourism sector in Panama has experienced tremendous growth in the recent years. The country’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites are critical to the country’s future tourism. Although conservation efforts have been challenged by inadequate facilities and funds, the government of Panama continues to address threats to the sites’ sustainability.