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Ecological Restoration Strategies in Agricultural Landscapes of Panama


The Republic of Panama is known worldwide for providing a critical link in global trade via the Panama Canal and more recently to its impressive economic growth and first-world city skylines. Nevertheless, in actuality, Panama is a developing country of stark economic inequalities. The World Bank estimates poverty in rural Panama at 60%, which commonly lacks public services, access to education and economic opportunities. Many rural people in Panama live agrarian livelihoods that focus on subsistence agriculture and small-holder cattle ranching. These conventional practices involve the cutting and burning of forests to plant annual crops and pasture grasses. As a result of such practices, the country lost over 30% of its forest cover from 1950 to 2000. While Panama’s deforestation rates have slowed in the past 15 years due to increased enforcement of environmental laws and regeneration of forests in abandoned agricultural lands, Panama’s ecosystem services continue to be degraded by unsustainable land use practices and the lack of knowledge regarding sustainable agricultural systems and reforestation efforts with native species. As a means of providing support for the marginalized people of developing countries like Panama, the United States Peace Corps "sends professionals to work at the grassroots level toward sustainable change that lives on long after their service.” These extension agents are assigned for two years to communities that request Peace Corps’ assistance. The development assistance that these extension agents provide in their communities is critical to improve the capacity of local people.

As a means of giving further technical training for extension agents in their role as trainers, ELTI will deliver a “training of trainers” course that provides the practical understanding necessary to guide ecological restoration strategies with their community counterparts to facilitate effective forest restoration and sustainable management in agricultural landscapes. During the training, the participants will visit a number of farms utilizing conventional practices, where they will learn about the range of restoration strategies that can be implemented based on the site’s context and landowner’s objectives. This field-course will be facilitated as part of the Peace Corps Panama’s week-long “In-Service Training,” which is offered to extension agents after serving three months in site and completing their community analysis.


Module 1

Forest ecology and the provision and regulation ecosystem services and the effects of human disturbance in productive landscapes

Module 2

Ecological restoration strategies options and opportunities

Module 3

Diagnostics, design and implementation of silvopastoral and agroforestry systems

Module 4

Strategies and physical construction of a small-scale nursery to reproduce native tree species for reforestation efforts