While visiting the Central American country of Panama, we met up with Global Brigades–an NGO for students looking to make a difference in third-world countries. They led us on a trip to the Darien Rainforest– one of the most remote parts of Panama– to show us the impact deforestation is having on the local communities, as well as the local ecosystem.
One of the main causes of deforestation in the region is the harvesting of a rare timber called Cocobolo– one of the most expensive woods in the world. Poachers venture into the jungle, cut down the trees, and torch the land–also known as “slash and burn”. This not only affects the environment, but also the people indigenous to the area: the Embera.
Spikes in tree poaching have led to bloody conflicts between the Embera and poachers, and the virgin rainforest the Embera call home is diminishing at an alarming rate. But Global Brigades is trying to change this by creating sustainable farmland out of the aftermath of “slash and burn.”
We went deep into the jungle to investigate. Take a look at the slideshow below for some behind-the-scenes photos from our journey.