The Mamoní Valley
The Mamoní Valley is located within the largest remaining stretch of contiguous rainforest in the exceptionally biodiverse Tumbes-Chocó-Magdalena eco-region – one of the top 20 ecological hotspots on Earth. The Mamoní Valley is a corridor of dense mature rainforests and fertile river valleys rich in biological diversity. It is the headwaters of one of Panamá Province’s most storied rivers. Only two hours east of Panama City, the Valley’s long northern border is the Cordillera de San Blas, part of Panama’s Continental Divide. The Mamoní Valley Preserve acts as a buffer zone, protecting the eastern border of the Chagres National Park. It buffers the southwest border of Guna Yala Comarca, the semi-autonomous territory of the Gunas. The western edge of the Valley is surrounded by the cloud forests of Cerro Brewster and Cerro Jefe – zones of high endemism and remarkable lush mist-enshrouded mountaintops. The southern boundary consists of a long ridge that separates the Upper Mamoní from the Corpus Christi watershed, and is typified by dense forests and views of both oceans – making a hike along this ridge particularly memorable.
The Upper Rio Mamoní is a wide open river in a broad valley with flood plains and undulating hills surrounding the Mamoní itself, which after descending from its sources along the Continental Divide, flows west to east until reaching the southwest corner of the Valley, where it turns abruptly South and heads to the Pacific. The Valley generally follows the river from the west to the east, with many mountain tributaries cascading through steep forested terrain into the Rio Mamoní.
In the 1960’s and 70’s Panama’s economy began to expand eastward towards the Darién, which resulted in massive clearing of lands. This eastward migration was further supported by government policies to help fund the expansion of cattle and the agricultural frontier. New settlers established the 11,500-hectare Mamoní Valley as a major cattle production zone.
The Valley reached its peak extent of deforestation and area in pasture (around 30%) with its extensive cattle ranching and subsistence farming around the year 2000. Enter Earth Train and the Rainforest Capital team with their efforts to prevent the then current regional demographic and land use trends from further devastating the Mamoní Valley’s thriving forests and rich biodiversity.