Golfo de los Mosquitos Forests

Year of compilation: 2003

Site description (baseline)
This IBA includes the largest block of lowland forest on the Caribbean slope between Bocas de Toro and San Blas. From the eastern side of the Calovébora valley in Veraguas, nearly continuous forest extends from the coast inland to the central cordillera across the watersheds of the Guázaro, Concepción, Veraguas, and Belén Rivers. Inland the IBA is contiguous with Santa Fe National Park and Omar Torrijos National Park. To the east, in Colón and Coclé provinces forest is found in the watersheds of the Petaquilla and Caimito Rivers and the lower courses of the Coclé del Norte, Toabre, and Miguel de la Borda Rivers, but here it does not extend as far inland as the cordillera. The region is very sparsely settled, mainly by Buglé in the west and latinos to the east along the river courses. Usable roads reach the edge of the area only near the Miguel de la Borda river and at Coclecito on the Coclé del Norte River, and most of the region is inaccessible except by sea.

Key biodiversity
The globally threatened, and nationally endangered, Great Green Macaw occurs in the Coclé del Norte valley in the east, and was still reported to be present in the early 1970s in the Calovébora valley in the west. It probably occurs throughout the remoter parts of the area. The globally threatened Bare-necked Umbrellabird and Three-wattled Bellbird undoubtedly occur on seasonal migration from breeding areas in the adjacent highlands. The area is estimated to contain threshold populations of these species and also Great Curassow and Plumbeous Hawk. It contains at least 4 of 11 species (36%) of the Central American Caribbean Slope EBA, and others are likely to occur. The area is very poorly known ornithologically, and surveys, particularly for macaws, are a high priority.

Non-bird biodiversity: There is little definite information on the fauna. Mammals probably include Water Opossum, Central American Wooly Opossum, Silky Anteater, Northern Naked-tailed Armadillo, Spix’s Disk-winged Bat, Geoffroy’s Tamarin, Central American Spider Monkey, Olingo, Neotropical River Otter, Ocelot, Margay, Jaguarundi, Puma, Jaguar, and Baird’s Tapir. Reptiles and amphibians that have been recorded include the frogs Dendrobates pumilio and D. vicentei, the lizards Anolis carpenteri and A. lionotus, and the snake Rhadinaea sargenti.

Habitat and land use
The area consists of very wet lowland evergreen forest. Submontane forest occurs above 500 m. In settled areas along the river valleys land use consists of subsistence agriculture and cattle raising.

Pressure/threats to key biodiversity
About 20,000 ha, or 10% of the area as defined, is deforested, mostly along the Coclé del Norte River and the lower courses of other rivers. The western border is adjacent to the Ngöbe-Buglé Comarca, while the eastern border is an expanding colonization frontier for cattle and subsistence agriculture. Recent improvement of the road from Santa Fe to Calovébora is likely to increase colonization in the western part of the area. A large copper concession at Cerro Petaquilla north of Coclecito has been explored mineralogically, but current low copper prices make development unlikely in the near future. Development of the site would require a large open-pit mine, connected by road to Coclecito and to new port facilities on the Caribbean. The Panama Canal Authority previously proposed the construction of a large reservoir on the Coclé de Norte River that would flood forested areas (and other reservoirs on the Miguel de la Borda and Indio Rivers in deforested land to the east), in order to supply additional water for the operation of the Panama Canal. However, these plans have now been dropped. The most serious long-term threat to the area is uncontrolled colonization. Any future development of mineral or hydrological resources should require the commitment of financial resources to protect the remaining forests of the region. It would be desirable to add these lowland forests to the highlands now protected by Santa Fe and Omar Torrijos National Parks.

Conservation responses/actions for key biodiversity
None known.

Protected areas
Unprotected. Adjacent to Santa Fe and Omar Torrijos National Parks.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2023) Important Bird Area factsheet: Golfo de los Mosquitos Forests. Downloaded from on 02/06/2023.