In early January Planting Empowerment hosted a group of investors in Panama for our fourth annual Panama trip. We spent a couple of days touring our planting sites, getting to know the communities we work with, discussing the issues that we’re at work to address, and exploring firsthand how our forest investments are impacting our partners.
The drive out to the Darien province of Panama is always an adventure. Besides the terrible drivers and wandering livestock, the gaping potholes usually take a toll on our rental car. Somehow we managed to escape this time with only minor vehicular damage. The Darien is different every time I go back – changed road patterns, new construction, more infrastructure, the kids are grown up – but the same environmental and economic problems persist.
Operations Director Damion Croston visited Panama in early May. Here he presents a couple of the more important items from the trip.
Small Fire in Plantation
In April we experienced a small fire in one of our plantations in Nuevo Paraiso. A local partner from whom we lease land was clearing an adjacent parcel to plant crops when the fire made its way past the fire break onto our plantation. Thanks to the vigilance and quick actions of worker Jose Rodriguez damage was kept to a minimum. An investigation is currently being conducted to assess total loss and to find ways to prevent another such incident. Sponsors can rest assured that the fire will not affect the value of their holdings, and PE assumes ownership of total losses associated with the incident.
Last Fall we helped our local partners in Arimae obtain funding from the UNDP-GEF Small Grants Programme to conduct an economically and environmentally beneficial forestry project. We have continued to facilitate the project by providing technical assistance. The community has made significant progress since last year and will plant some of the products from the nursery they built as part of the project next month. In the future the nursery will be used to plant native species saplings which will be sold to Planting Empowerment for use in our own plantations. We will continue to provide our local community partners with assistance and economic opportunities whenever possible.