• Panama has lost 40% of its forest cover.

  • More than 50% of Panama's remaining tropical forests are found in indigenous territories and protected areas.

Native stewardship is the reason Panama's rainforests are still standing today.

Let's support what works.

Native Future is dedicated to helping Wounaan protect and restore the ecosystems they have conserved for generations.
Deforestation of Wounaan lands by non-Indigenous ranchers and loggers.

Strengthening Wounaan Forest-Based Livelihoods

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JẼB JUA CHOOG K׳AP׳Λ WËNΛRRAAG is what they call the project in Wounaan meu. 
The project is a partnership with US Forest Service International Programs to support up to four Wounaan communities to assess their natural resource management needs and identify and carry out actions to protect and manage at least one non-timber forest product (NTFP). Communities will receive technical assistance, training and materials to reforest and restore their forests. 

US Forest Service International Programs resources, expertise, and training in natural resources assessment and reforestation are critical inputs to this project, which will be carried out with the Wounaan National Congress and Foundation for the Development of the Wounaan People. Strengthening Wounaan Forest-based Livelihoods is part of US Forest Service International Program’s overall work to reduce illegal logging and improve forest management and forest governance in Panama. Native Future is a key US Forest Service partner in promoting sustainable livelihoods among Indigenous peoples in Panama.
Rio Hondo
Rio Hondo

Forests and deforestation

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Tagua nut carvings
Tagua nut carvings

A Wounaan non-timber forest product

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Wounaan weavers
Wounaan weavers

Wounaan baskets are a non-timber forest product

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and Ecological Restoration

Too much of Wounaan territory has been deforested and degraded by agriculture and illegal logging. The natural resources Wounaan have relied on for generations are severely depleted: the palms for their baskets, the hardwoods they use for constructing their homes and the sacred rosewood (Dalbergia retusa) they carve for ceremonial and commercial purposes are all but extirpated in some communities. 

JẼB JUA CHOOG K׳AP׳Λ WËNΛRRAAG, as it is known in Wounaan meu, is helping Wounaan communities reforest and restore their natural resources. A partnership with US Forest Service International Programs (USFS IPs), we are bringing technical assistance, training, equipment and materials to Wounaan reforestation objectives.


Yet, Wounaan ecological restoration needs are longer term than one project's resources. They require collaboration and a sustained approach. Contributions to Native Future's Wounaan Land Rights program help Wounaan develop more sustained financing of their stewardship activities and qualify for additional funds, such as that received from the UN Development Program GEF Small Grants Program for conservation and ecotourism in Puerto Lara.


With your help, we can continue to support Wounaan to protect and conserve the natural resources that sustain their culture and livelihoods.


For decades, Wounaan weavers and carvers have perfected their art into a livelihood and source of household income. Recently, global economic forces and changing local markets have significantly diminished Wounaan participation in a craft that was once practiced in up to 90% of their households. At the same time, deforestation and forest degradation are depleting the natural resources on which their craft depend. The project JẼB JUA CHOOG K׳AP׳Λ WËNΛRRAAG is assessing the problems and opportunities along all stages of the Wounaan arts value chain, from the management of their natural resources to harvesting, production, marketing and sale. It is identifying opportunities to increase value and returns to Wounaan women and communities and improve the management of these non-timber forest products for future generations.

Our Work is not Done