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Panama Canal Authority and the Nature Conservancy Partner to Conserve Canal Watershed

Date: 03-JUN-2003

Canal Authority Also Announces Signing of a Letter of Intent with USAID

Preserving Biodiversity And Water Resources A Priority

Panama City, Panama, June 3, 2003 - The Panama Canal Authority (ACP) announced a landmark environmental agreement with The Nature Conservancy (TNC) to create and promote policies that preserve the Panama Canal watershed - with special emphasis on the Chagres River area. The ACP and TNC have a common goal of protecting and preserving the rainforests and other natural resources of the watershed, which supplies the water for the operation of the Panama Canal and the drinking water for Panama's two largest cities, Panama City and Colon.

The two groups have agreed to work together to combat deforestation, guarantee a healthy biodiversity and implement pro-active environmental policies for the watershed. Their work will be largely modeled on the best practices gleaned from The Nature Conservancy's work in the Chagres River Basin and the Chagres National Park in Panama, where TNC sought to expand park limits, increase efficiency and improve management of the protected area through endowments, co-management agreements and stricter monitoring.

ACP Administrator, Alberto Alemán Zubieta, and the President of TNC, Steven J. McCormick, signed the agreement in 2003. Since its creation after the transfer of the Canal to Panama in 1999, the ACP has been committed to preserving the watershed, which it administers and maintains in cooperation with the government of Panama and non-governmental organizations (NGOs). The Nature Conservancy, an environmental NGO, aims to preserve plants, animals and their natural habitats by protecting the land and water they rely on to survive. Since Panama is home to 900 bird species and has one of Central America's untouched rainforests, TNC works with the country's leading environmental organizations to protect Panama's impressive biodiversity.

Alberto Alemán Zubieta hailed the agreement as an example of the ACP's commitment to the environment and sustainable development. "Successful Canal operations entail caring for the environment around the Canal, such as the watershed. The watershed is the lifeblood of the Canal and provides vital water for Panama's major cities, such as Panama City, Colon and La Chorrera. Running the Canal as a business, we are always looking for partners and strategic alliances that will help us run the Canal reliably while maintaining the watershed."

The ACP also announced the signing of a letter of intent with USAID for parallel financing of programs and projects in pilot sub-watersheds in the Panama Canal watershed. Both the ACP and USAID agreed to invest in the programs and projects identified in the action plans, based on assessments of the sub-watersheds selected. It is anticipated that these pilot activities will serve as models that can be replicated throughout the Panama Canal Watershed.

"This achievement, coupled with our announcement with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), demonstrate that the Panama Canal is making great strides on the environmental front," concluded Alemán Zubieta.

About the Panama Canal
The Panama Canal Authority is the autonomous agency of the Government of Panama in charge of managing, operating, and maintaining the Panama Canal. The operation of the Panama Canal Authority is based on its organic law and the regulations approved by its Board of Directors. For more information, please refer to the website: www.pancanal.com.


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