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La Amistad International Park - ANCON

ANCON was a catalyst for the creation of La Amistad International Park. Discussion of a park spanning the border of Costa Rica and Panama began in 1974 at the First Central American Meeting of Conservation of Natural and Cultural Resources. In 1979 Costa Rica and Panama signed an agreement for the Talamanca region. Costa Rica recognized La Amistad International Park in March 1982, and four years later Panama followed. The same year United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) recognized La Amistad International Park along with fourteen adjacent protected areas as a Biosphere reserve. One year later the park was also named a World Heritage site.


La Amistad spans the Panamanian/Costa Rican border in the foothills and mountains of the Cordillera de Talamanca.


The La Amistad protects a sector of the Cordillera de Talamanca mountain range. The altitude in the park ranges from 700 to 11,600 ft. and some of the landscape is very rugged. The mountain formation is primarily metamorphic and volcanic in origin and representative of the Changuinola formation, the oldest in Panama. Because of the high range in elevation there are eight distinct ecological zones. The range begins in the lowland tropical rain forests and moves up through cloud forests to glacial lakes and tundra-like bogs.


The climate is tropical humid with average temperatures ranging from above 74° F near sea level to 32° F on the highest peaks. Mean annual precipitation varies from around 98in. to more than 197in. in some high mountain areas.


La Amistad and the surrounding areas are protected for many reasons. High concentrations of endemic species, inclusion of both mountain and lowland forest ecosystems, and the potential for hydropower and drinking water production all contributed to the protection the La Amistad.

The La Amistad is 2,200 square miles and home to roughly 115 species of fish, 250 species of reptiles and amphibians, 215 species of mammals and 560 species of birds. Many of the animals found in La Amistad are endangered and a total of 70% of Costa Rican wildlife can be found in the park.

The range in elevation adds to the value of La Amistad. Many birds need the continuous track of both lowland forests and mountain tracts for their seasonal altitudinal migrations. The highlands of Costa Rica and western Panama are home to over 50 restricted-range bird species and La Amistad protects about 10% of the highland zone the birds need to survive.

The fauna of Costa Rica and Panama are not the only beneficiaries of La Amistad. The drinking water for Limon and San Isidro de El General, both in Costa Rica, and David, located in Panama, flow from the La Amistad watershed. The water is also used for hydroelectric power and agriculture. Ecotourism has also become an important economic benefit from the park.


Along with their work in Panama to form the La Amistad ANCON has continually conducted research in the park. ANCON has conducted surveys of the La Amistad International Park, created species catalogs and proposed park boundaries.


Today ANCON cooperates with Instituto Nacional de Recursos Naturales Renovables (INRENARE) and the Direccion Nacional de Areas Protegidas y Vida Silvestre in the management of the park and to secure park boundaries. ANCON has also been working on a plan of action for the future of the park. In their plan ANCON will identify the most critical sites and coordinate park patrols.


UCLAONLINE University College London. 2003. 20 Oct. 2002
< environment/pdf_Sustainability/HABITAT_BestPractice_ Conservation_panama.pdf>.

Chaverri A., Herrera B. (Universidad Nacional, Escuela de Ciencias Ambientales, Programa ECOMA, Heredia, Costa Rica) and Herrera-MacBryde O. (Smithsonian Institution, Department of Botany). Data Sheet. 20 Oct. 2003 < amistad.htm>.

UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre. World Heritage Site-Protected Areas Progammes. 21 July 2003. 20 Oct. 2003 <>.