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2023 Year in Review

Updated: Dec 31, 2023

What a year of unprecedented, tide-turning good news!! Check out the 2023 highlights below. (Don’t miss December!) 

We’re looking forward to reporting even more success in 2024. Thank you for helping Indigenous peoples of Panama protect their territories and ways of life.

Thank you so much for supporting the good work! 

Happy New Year!

January: Twenty-two Wounaan carry out Puerto Lara’s 5th official Christmas Bird Count, reporting a record 149 species and 982 birds, in one day! Will they top this on January 5, 2024?

February: The Ministry of Environment delivers citations to 20 individuals for deforestation and other ecological damages in Wounaan territories, an unprecedented enforcement of environmental laws in Wounaan territories. 

Twenty-seven Wounaan from 5 communities learn introductory forest fire-fighting and prevention skills.

March: Eighty-four Indigenous Ngäbe and Buglé high school and university students start their school year. 

April: The newly trained firefighters in Rio Hondo, Rio Platanares and Maje craft fire management and forest fire prevention best practices and rules for their communities.

May: By this month, two Ministry of Environment officials in the Darien regional office have been re-assigned from their positions while investigations continue into the illegal logging reported by the community of Aruza’s monitors.


June: Rio Platanares and Rio Hondo design interpretive signs for their Crested Eagle Trail and the Ringed Kingfisher Aquatic Tour. 

July: The International Conservation Fund of Canada extends its contract with Native Future, committing an additional $62,000 to the monitoring and protection of the Maje, Rio Hondo and Rio Platanares territories.

August: Twenty-six Wounaan, young and old from five communities, come together to share their traditional tree planting practices with each other, and develop a seed diversification, sharing and reforestation strategy.

September: The US Forest Service International Programs and Mycorrhizal Fund renew their support to Native Future’s mission, committing a total of $180,000 to forest protection and biodiversity conservation activities.

October: Panama’s environmental authorities and police go to the field with Wounaan monitors to continue to enforce environmental laws in the territories of Rio Hondo and Rio Platanares. 

Since 2021, the territorial monitoring program has reported to Panama’s environmental authorities 290 hectares of deforestation in Wounaan territories caused by 36 people. To date, 13 of them have been fined for their violations. The other 23 are under investigation for environmental crimes; twelve have been charged and two have been sent to jail. 

November: Panama’s Ministry of Environment signs off on the community of Maje’s title application, clearing this long-standing hurdle. The application is now in the hands of ANATI, the National Land Authority, for their approval, public notification of their decision and delivery of title to the community. (We’re looking forward to celebrating with Maje in 2024!)

December: The year-long investigation by Panama’s environmental prosecutor into the illegal logging and land grabbing of Aruza finds 73 properties were granted illegitimately by ANATI officials in the territory of Aruza. These are the 73 properties that were the basis of ANATI’s decision to annul Aruza’s collective title application.(Let’s restore Aruza to its rightful owners in 2024!)

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