The Embera-Wounaan people and the local context

The Embera and Wounaan are ancestral forest tribes. With approximately 40,000 people, they represent 20% of the country’s indigenous population. They live and exercise authority over four territories, located in strategic areas of more than one million hectares, stretching from the primary forest of Darièn, to the Bayano Lake region and the Panama Canal basin.

These four territories are home to vast and varied ecosystems, including one of the most important frontier forests on the continent, the Darièn, also known as the “Amazon of Central America”.

It is one of the world’s biodiversity hotspots and one of the last sanctuaries for many endangered species. Its disappearance would be an ecological disaster with implications far beyond national borders.

However, all of these regions are now seriously threatened by deforestation. The Embera-Wounaan people, nature’s first line of defence here, are also the most affected by its disappearance.

An essential project

Given the importance of the region and the collective territories, as well as the critical situation of water sources, forests and biodiversity, we are launching a major project to restore and protect 200,000 hectares of ancient forests.

Today more than ever, the reality on the territories is of great concern, and worldwide, the impacts caused by the climate and Covid19 crises reinforce the urgent need to protect nature and empower local communities. In that context, the project aims to implement comprehensive solutions with strong benefits for conservation as well as social and economic improvements.

It will enable the sustainable development of the region’s natural and cultural heritages, increase the community’s economic prospects and, more broadly, help combat climate change.

Our ambitious Objectives

Driven by an Embera-Wounaan vision, this project prioritises strategic actions generating impact at local, national and global levels.

It is a long-term and collaborative work consisting of several key phases :

  • 20,000 hectares of land reforested with endemic and rare species
  • 2 million trees and other flora planted
  • 181,000 hectares of forest protected
  • hundreds of jobs created within the communities
  • access to drinking water regained for all Embera-Wounaan villages

Now more than ever it is important to take care of our planet! Local communities have been struggling alone for years, it is time to help them!