The traditions of the Wildlife Conservation Society are rooted in field biology and the development of protected areas and species conservation programs. That focus has been supported by another tradition: remaining committed to an area of biological importance for long periods -- long enough to become deeply familiar with issues that bear on conservation, long enough to become deeply familiar with issues that bear on conservation, long enough to become integrated into the local conservation community, long enough to establish the leadership necessary to improve the circumstances that contribute to species extinction and protected area degradation.
These traditions have contributed to the success of WCS in Central America. Reflecting upon a steady and rapid decline in tropical forests and other critical habitat in the region; reflecting upon a park "movement" that was seemingly unable to keep up with the rate of habitat destruction, WCS introduced, and has seen adopted, a new "agenda" for conservation in Central America. It is an agenda or vision for conservation suited to the unique geography and history of the region, and one capable of preserving the majority of species, the bulk of the rich biodiversity, of the Central American isthmus. It is the Central American Biotic Corridor.
In 1990, WCS, with its partner of the moment, the Caribbean Conservation Corporation, launched the Paseo Pantera project as a "cooperative agreement" with USAID. The project gave emphasis to the establishment of a corridor running from the Darien of Panama to the tri-national forest, Selva Maya, of Mexico, Guatemala and Belize. The project proposed the green belt as an effective way to address species conservation in the narrow Central American isthmus, but it also promoted the notion of increased cooperation among states to achieve the conservation goals that each nation ostensibly aspired to. With peace suddenly becoming a reality in the region, and with possibilities for a brighter future arising in all sectors of society, the new conservation initiative found remarkable acceptance. The concept was appropriate to the times, as well as custom-made for the unique bio-geographic requirements of fauna and flora in the isthmus.
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