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La Amistad International Park/Bocas del ToroPIP 2000

The La Amistad International Park/Bocas del Toro stretches across the boundaries of Panama and Costa Rica and from the coral reefs of the Caribbean Sea to the peaks of the Talamanca mountain range. With an array of ecosystems such as cloud forest, coral reefs, mangrove forests, and the unique paramo, Amistad/Bocas del Toro is rich in biological and cultural diversity: it is the most culturally and ethnically diverse region in both countries. Afro-Caribbean, BriBri, Ngöbe, Naso, Cabecar and Latino ethnic groups are found here and a majority of Costa Rica and Panama’s indigenous people live in the Talamanca highlands within the park.

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The Amistad/Bocas del Toro region encompasses more than 2.5 million acres and eleven protected areas.

waterfall in cloud forest

Waterfall in cloud forest © David Woodfall


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total area protected:
400,000 acres

Talamanca Montane Forests; Atlantic and Pacific Humid Isthmian Forests

partner organization:
Asociación ANAI, Fundacion de Cuencas de Limon

Ecological Importance

With an elevation range from sea level to 12,500 feet, it is not surprising that Amistad/Bocas del Toro hosts 4 percent of all terrestrial species on earth. Some of the unique mammals found here are jaguars, ocelots, peccaries, giant anteaters, sloths, the countries’ largest populations of Baird’s tapirs, and howler, black-handed spider, and white-faced capuchin monkeys.

The Talamanca highlands provide habitat for more than 400 bird species, including the resplendant quetzal, bare-necked umbrellabird, harpy eagle, and great green macaw. The region is host to 180 plant species found nowhere else in the world and the Talamanca mountains contain 90 percent of all plant species found in Costa Rica.


Despite the region’s remoteness and relatively small human population, many threats jeopardize its biological richness. Overfishing, unregulated tourism, colonization, logging, and forest clearing for subsistence farms, plantations, and cattle ranching contribute to water pollution and sedimentation of sensitive waterways. A series of hydroelectric dams, power plants and roads are planned for the area and will seriously endanger the region’s rivers and forests.

A Strategy of Success

Since 1995, Parks in Peril (PiP) has been working in the Costa Rica-Panama binational region to strengthen conservation capacity in local organizations and communities within the Talamanca-Caribbean Biological Corridor. Today, PiP is working with local stakeholders to consolidate the Amistad International Park/Bocas del Toro area by identifying critical targets and stresses through Conservation Area Planning (CAP). This complex system of stakeholders requires that PiP work with a number of different partners to focus on unique areas of Amistad/Bocas del Toro.

In the Seas to Summit initiative, PiP is focusing on the continental high elevation areas to complement the work of USAID’s Central American Regional Environmental Program (PROARCA) in the lowlands and marine and coastal areas. Across the Pacific and Atlantic lowlands and highlands, PiP and partner organizations are managing freshwater systems and biological corridors, monitoring forest cover, and strengthening community-based conservation projects. With the partner, Fundación de Cuencas de Limón, an ecotourism strategy and a watershed user-fee system are now being implemented.

PiP has created a bi-national commission to coordinate work between the four governmental organizations responsible for park management. Working across the site’s complexities, PiP is helping local partners to guide their communities and governments to establish projects locally. Under this approach, community-based project leaders are known as local sustainable action promoters in recognition of their focus on local and immediate situations.

Read more about La Amistad/Bocas del Toro...

Asociación ANAI
The Nature Conservancy in
La Amistad/Talamanca and La Amistad/Bocas del Toro
Online Field Guide to Bocas del Toro, Panama

Read more about projects in Panama...

Darién Biosphere Reserve
Chagres/Panama Canal Watershed

Panama Partner Organizations

The Nature Conservancy in Panama