Harpy Eagle as a Flagship for Community-based Conservation and Forest Restoration

Timeframe: 2021 – 2023
Country/Region: Panama
Partner: The Peregrine Fund

The Darien Province in Panama is one of the most important refuges for indigenous communities and tropical forest biodiversity, including the charismatic Harpy Eagle. Over the past five decades, Harpy Eagle populations have drastically decreased, even facing extinction in some Central American countries. In Panama, where the Harpy Eagle is the national bird, the decline of the species has been less dramatic, but the species is still listed as Endangered at the national level. Unfortunately, lowland tropical forest – the preferred nesting habitat for the species – is the most threatened type of forest in Panama as it is a prime target for unsustainable agricultural activities, logging and cattle ranching.

The project implemented by The Peregrine Fund (TPF) intends to increase forest connectivity, reduce deforestation and Harpy Eagle persecution, and ultimately protect the largest forest in Panama by using the Harpy Eagle as a charismatic flagship species. Specifically, the project will deploy a three-pronged approach based on science, conservation education, and community engagement to restore and conserve the forest in Darien and help indigenous communities become more resilient to climate change impacts.

In two years, the project expects to:

  • Restore 240 hectares of disturbed land and increase landscape connectivity through forest restoration and agroforestry in the area.
  • Expand ongoing conservation education and outreach efforts from four to ten communities to decrease Harpy Eagle killings to zero.
  • Strengthen the protection of three national protected areas important for the survival of Harpy Eagles by empowering communities in governance, leadership, and ecological monitoring techniques.