Panama launches reforestation program to compensate for canal expansion

Updated: 2016-08-20 15:07


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Panama launches reforestation program to compensate for canal expansion

Chinese-chartered merchant ship Cosco Shipping Panama crosses the new Agua Clara Locks during the inauguration of the expansion of the Panama Canal in Colon, 80 km from Panama City on June 26, 2016 on June 26, 2016. [Photo/VCG]

PANAMA CITY - The administration of the Panama Canal (ACP) announced on Friday that it has begun a reforestation program covering 83 hectares in the province of Darien to compensate for the recent expansion of the Canal.

The reforestation is part of a campaign that will re-forest 1,243 hectares nationwide at a cost of 3 million US dollars, the ACP said in a statement. A total of 937 hectares of land have already been reforested.

"We are very proud of the benefits that the canal expansion has brought to this part of the country, especially as this is the first restoration project by the Canal in Darien," said Ilya Espino de Marotta, the ACP's executive vice-president.

Hermel Lopez, regional director for the Ministry of the Environment, said the project is highly important for the province, given the reduction in its forest cover.

The ACP reforestation program includes planting coffee and cacao trees as well as native species, such as the cocobolo.

The ACP has committed itself to planting two hectares of trees for each hectare which was affected by the canal expansion works.

The initiative will take place over one year of active planting and four more years of maintenance, carried out by local contractors.

According to Panama's National Association for the Conservation of Nature, Panama has lost 65 percent of its original forest cover due to a deforestation rate of around 20,000 hectares a year.

The government has teamed up with Ancon to reforest 1 million hectares in 20 years.