Like Mexico, Panama also recognizes the damaging erosion that deforestation causes. Here, a massive boom in hydroelectric power generation has seen the addition of several new hydro facilities to the country’s existing 31 plants, with dozens more being proposed. The resulting construction, combined with a massive expansion of the Pan- American Highway that will traverse the country’s tropical regions, has resulted in an extensive loss of vegetation and the associated erosion control it provided.
Preventing erosion was not a major consideration in the rush to complete these projects, and it has had a devastating impact on farms downstream. Runoff, no longer slowed by vegetation, has washed away the precious topsoil the farmers desperately need to grow theirs crops.
Other serious consequences of reduced erosion control, according to the Panamanian government, include:
- Increase in flooding
- Loss of water resources
- “La Colmatacion”—Deforestation that leads to overly saturated soils, which leads to erosion and wiping away of precious topsoil.
- Loss of soil fertility
To mitigate these challenges, Eduardo Dominguez, MSc., who collaborates with the Agricultural Ministry of Panama, is working with Envirolokwest on permanent veg- etative solutions using Envirolok’s system both in the hydroelectric dam sites and in the vicinity of the Pan-American Highway extension.
Bryan Hall is the managing member of EnvirolokWest, dba Erosion Control USA.