The Panama Canal expansion will have large implications for Panama, and will impact the surrounding mangrove ecosystems. While expanding the canal presents new economic opportunities – lawyers, environmentalists, educators and youth activists want to ensure that future progress is sustainable and that developers adhere to environmental regulations and standards. Tania Arosemena is worried about development trends where golf courses, schools and even housing developments are built on wetlands and do not comply with environmental standards. Reyna Rodriguez is a youth educator and part of Guardians of the Mangroves that was founded by Carmen Aparicio. She leads workshops for her peers and for adults to build awareness around mangroves and how vital they will be in protecting communities from storms. Blas Lopez living in Carti Sugdup, a small island in the Gunayala archipelago, is working with his community to plan a re-location to the mainland because of the threat of sea level rise and overcrowding. Blas, Katlein Montolla, and other community members are also troubled by the onslaught of trash that waves of tourism, new forms of consumption, and ocean currents have washed onto their shores.

STORIES FROM PANAMA