Protect Panama’s Red Frog Beach and Bastimentos Island

Protect Panama’s Red Frog Beach and Bastimentos Island

Dear Member,

Bastimentos Island, located in Panama’s Bocas del Toro province (on the Caribbean coast), shines as an ecological and cultural gem rich with coral reefs, dense tropical rainforests and indigenous communities. Among the diverse wildlife species of Bastimentos are night monkeys, three-toed sloths, numerous tropical bird and fish species as well as two distinct color variants of the strawberry poison dart frog — the namesake of the fabled Red Frog Beach.

Bastimentos Island boasts some of the Caribbean’s most pristine beaches, which are also critical breeding habitat for endangered leatherback, green and hawksbill turtles.

However, because of a massive, U.S.-fueled luxury-development boom, Bastimentos Island’s sensitive marine and terrestrial habitats are currently under siege due to the construction of Red Frog Beach Club, a high-end tourist resort.

Red Frog Beach Club, an American-based development corporation, is currently constructing phase one of its development plan, which includes condominiums and luxury villas on the northern coast of Bastimentos Island. And the company is seeking approval from ANAM, Panama’s national environmental agency, to begin construction on phase two of its massive, proposed residential resort, which would include up to 800 additional living units, luxury hotel facilities, and a large marina. Such extensive development would profoundly affect Bastimentos’ delicate rainforest, beach and coral-reef habitats and jeopardize the cultural heritage of the island’s indigenous peoples, who have consistently voiced their opposition to the Red Frog Beach Club project through direct protests and petitions.

Please join a growing international movement urging ANAM not to approve phase two of the Red Frog Beach Club resort on Panama’s Bastimentos Island. 

Send a letter to the following decision maker(s):
ANAM Officials;
Sr. Ruben Blades, Minister of Tourism

Below is the sample letter:

Subject: Protect Panama’s Red Frog Beach

Dear [decision maker name automatically inserted here],

From rugged mountain peaks to dense tropical rainforests and pristine coral reefs, Panama boasts some of the world’s most beautiful and biologically diverse ecosystems. More than 2,000 species of plants are endemic to the country, and wildlife species such as the golden frog and giant tree sloth are found only in Panama. However, in the recent push for increased international tourism, coastal and beachfront developments are rapidly destroying sensitive rainforest and coral-reef habitats. Specifically, construction of very large-scale, residential tourism projects, like Red Frog Beach Club on Bastimentos Island, are threatening some of Panama’s and the world’s most valuable treasures — Panama’s superbly diverse terrestrial and marine ecosystems.

On Bastimentos Island in Bocas del Toro province, the Red Frog Beach Club development has begun phase one of its massive, residential tourist resort. Such construction on Bastimentos has already damaged portions of this delicate island, threatening its sensitive reef and mangrove habitats. Now Red Frog Beach Club is seeking approval from ANAM to build phase two of its luxury, residential resort. If approved, the resort would burgeon to include as many as 800 additional units, luxury hotel facilities and two large marinas. As Bastimentos is home to multiple, unique plant and animal species, including two color variants of the strawberry poison dart frog, such large-scale development likely would destroy more sensitive habitat and imperil numerous species living on the island.

Minister Blades once described Bocas del Toro province as the «the rising star of Panamanian ecotourism with their marine wealth and different animal species not seen in other places.» However, with the advent of large, luxury residential tourist resorts, Bastimentos and Bocas Del Toro risk becoming the falling star of Panamanian ecotourism. If the Panamanian government approves phase two of Red Frog Beach Club, one of Panama’s and the Caribbean’s most precious natural treasures will be forever altered and diminished.

Please do not approve phase two of Red Frog Beach Club. Bastimentos should remain as one of Panama’s most valuable biological treasures, resplendent with intact rainforests and healthy coral reefs.

Thank you.

Sincerely,

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What’s At Stake:

Bastimentos is one of several islands in the Bocas del Toro Archipelago off the Caribbean coast of Panama. These secluded islands are known for their biological diversity; like the famed Galapagos Islands of Ecuador, the Bocas del Toro Archipelago is home to numerous plant and animal species found nowhere else in the world but on individual islands in the chain. Bastimentos Island, in particular, boasts a multitude of plant and animal species including two and three-toed sloths, white-faced capuchins, coral reefs, mangrove estuaries, and critically endangered marine animals like leatherback, green and hawksbill sea turtles. Further, two distinct color variants of the strawberry poison-dart frog are believed to live only on Bastimentos.

Also living on Bastimentos are the indigenous Ngobe-Bugle people, whose culture and way of life remains intimately linked with the island’s bays, reefs, and mangroves. The Bahia Honda Ngobe community has been particularly vigilant in opposing the Red Frog Beach Club development through public demonstrations and petitions.

In 1988, 32,700 acres of Bastimentos and its surrounding marine habitat were designated as a national marine park. The park encompasses primarily coral reef and ocean habitats but also includes a large swath of rainforest running through the central portion of the island. Additionally, areas of Bastimentos not designated as national park are considered as buffer zones in which development must be strictly regulated. The national marine park, like the rest of Bastimentos Island, is undeveloped with few services, and currently has no major roads.

But Red Frog Beach Club, located in the buffer zone of strict development regulation, is intent upon significantly expanding its luxury resort operations. If ANAM approves phase two of Red Frog Beach Club, Bastimentos will begin its slide toward rampant, unsustainable development, and the island’s array of unique marine, coastal and terrestrial habitats and species will be set on a path to degradation and possible extinction.

With the rise of Costa Rica’s successful tourism industry, Panama also has sought to develop an international tourism market. Initially, Panama’s focus was on ecotourism and small sustainable projects that included economic development opportunities for indigenous peoples and the rural poor. In recent years, however, Panama’s tourism focus has shifted and now centers on attracting large-scale residential, luxury resort developments — to the clear detriment of the nation’s unique plant and animal species. Red Frog Beach Club is one such luxury, residential development, iand will be followed by multiple other, large-scale residential tourism projects planned for Bastimentos’ sensitive island habitats.

Currently, Red Frog Beach Club development company owns 1,528 acres — nearly 10 percent — of the Island. This vast parcel of land shares borders with both the national marine park and Bahia Honda, a local Ngobe-Bugle community. Phase one of Red Frog Beach Club has already hurt portions of this delicate island. If ANAM approves phase two of Red Frog Beach Club, more sensitive rainforest and coral-reef habitat will be destroyed, and the influx of people to this secluded island could mean the loss of Ngobe-Bugle culture and values.

Please join a growing international movement to oppose further residential tourism development of Panama’s Bastimentos Island. Voice your opposition to this exploitation of habitat and indigenous peoples by sending a letter to Panama National Environmental Authority (ANAM) urging the agency not to approve phase two of the Red Frog Beach Club development project.

Campaign Expiration Date:
August 31, 2007


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