A $3.5 million grant from the Global Environmental Facility will help finance a project to improve environmental management in the Sixaola river basin between Costa Rica and Panama, the Inter-American Development Bank announced today.
The Sixaola basin covers 2,890 square kilometers stretching from the Caribbean coast to the mountainous regions of Talamanca in Costa Rica and Central in Panama. The area contains one of the last large tracts of nearly untouched forest in Central America, as well as coastal ecosystems such as wetlands and mangroves. Home to communities of several indigenous groups and Afro-descendents, the basin also has some of the highest levels of poverty in both countries.
"The management of transboundary river basins and ecosystems is a matter of great importance in Central America,” said IDB project team leader Henrik Franklin. “This is an opportunity for Costa Rica and Panama to combine their efforts to conserve a global biodiversity hotspot, manage shared water resources and combat land degradation under a common framework."
The new project will help strengthen the working relationship between Costa Rica and Panama to improve environmental management in the Sixaola basin with broad participation of all stakeholders. The National Environment Agency (ANAM) in Panama and the Ministry of Environment and Energy (MINAE) in Costa Rica will jointly lead the project through a binational technical executing unit, under the guidance of multi-stakeholder commission.
The project will promote the adoption of productive practices compatible with the conservation and sustainable use of water, soil and biodiversity. For example, the project will involve local communities in improving the management of micro-watersheds.
It will also promote alternative income-generation activities based on the sustainable use of natural resources. A binational water quality and biodiversity monitoring program will be developed, as well as management tools for the transboundary protected areas.
The GEF-financed project will complement activities financed by the IDB under two sustainable development programs in Costa Rica Sixaola region and in Panama’s Boca del Toro.
The GEF, an independent financial organization with 175 member countries, was established in 1991 to provide grants to help transform environmental projects designed to achieve national benefits into initiatives capable of yielding regional and global advantages.
The facility’s focal areas are biological diversity, climate change, international waters and ozone layer depletion, as well as land degradation, desertification and deforestation.