VIDEO: Watershed restoration & regenerative agriculture is revitalizing Panama’s rural economy and is protecting the canal

Green investment in agroforestry is helping restore Panama’s forests, and the country’s famous canal could benefit, too.

The Panama Canal is one of the world’s most important shipping routes, and a vital source of income for the country. But with too little rain, climate change has contributed to a dramatic fall in its water levels, slowing traffic and cutting the country’s revenues from the waterway in half.

At the same time, livestock and illegal logging are putting Panama’s forests and wetlands under extreme pressure, meaning forest rivers aren’t replenishing the canal as they should.

By investing in reforestation and land restoration, Panama’s government hopes to invest in the future of its famous canal. Which is where public-private partnerships with investors like 12Tree come in.

12Tree Finance bought Finca Cuango, an old beef farm comprising 1,450 hectares, which it is reviving through agroforestry.

Cocoa plants grow in the shade of plantain, almond and cedar trees, while areas of natural forest provide a home for howler monkeys, an array of birds and rare animals like the puma, anteater and ocelot. This mix of natural and cultivated vegetation helps the soil resist erosion and retain water, which in turn helps preserve wetlands and rivers.

Photo of western entrance to Panama Canal is by Storm Cunningham.

Watch 7-minute video.

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