About the Project
The Darwin Initiative is a small grants program that aims to promote biodiversity conservation and sustainable use of resources around the world. The initiative is funded and administered by the UK Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, DEFRA.
Location: Archipelago Las Perlas, Republic of Panama
MARINE BIODIVERSITY ASSESSMENT AND DEVELOPMENT IN LAS PERLAS ARCHIPELAGO,
PANAMA (DEFRA 162/12/02)
In April 2003, the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI), the Darwin Initiative (DI), and Heriot Watt University (HWU) teamed up in a three-year period to develop an important project that would give immeasurable conservation benefits to Panama.
This project provided the basis for a conservation strategy for the marine environment of the Perlas Archipelago. The biodiversity of key marine habitats was mapped and assessed with the aim of providing comprehensive guidance to the appropriate Panamanian national authority (ANAM) to enable the establishment of this archipelago within the system of protected areas in Panama. Three Panamanian Darwin Fellows were trained to M.Sc level. These plus other project workers have received, from UK staff, specialist training in marine invertebrate taxonomy and sample curation and courses in remote sensing and habitat mapping techniques. School and community educational material was produced and an “experience and information exchange” network was established to link related past and present Darwin Initiative project workers in the region and elsewhere.
CONSERVATION MANAGEMENT ZONING IMPLEMENTATION AND FACILITATION IN PERLAS ARCHIPELAGO,
PANAMA (DEFRA EDPO 17)
The main purpose of the continued work in this Post-project (Phase II) was to ensure that the newly approved conservation management structure “Las Perlas Special Management Zone” was, and conitues to be, implemented properly and in a sustainable manner through continued guidance by the Darwin project team – advice based on sound scientific study and understanding of Las Perlas marine environment. Following on from the groundwork laid down by the original Darwin project, the Post-project had (and continues having) an important role in shaping the actual start-up management plans for operating the zoning of the area and the Darwin project team members are recognised as key players in this process by all stakeholders and local communities. Trained and project-experienced Darwin Fellows have provided an important legacy for future work and ultimately this may well include their assistance in the longer-term successful running of the “Las Perlas Special Management Zone” in Panama. This would be a truly durable legacy of the project.
For over five years, students, staff scientists and collaborators have worked intensively in using the data to support the protection of the marine resources of these islands. Those thesis and peer-review journals are included in the Research section of this website.