Palo Seco Protection Forest

Country/territory: Panama

IBA criteria met: A1, A2, A3 (2003)
For more information about IBA criteria, please click here

Area: 167,000 ha

Sociedad Audubon de Panamá

Site description (baseline)
Palo Seco Protection Forest forms a buffer zone for La Amistad International Park. It extends on the Caribbean slope in Bocas del Toro from the headwaters of the Yorkin River east to the headwaters of the Guaviviara River, protecting the mid-courses of the Teribe and Changuinola Rivers and the headwaters of the Riaco, Uyama, Róbalo and Guarumo. Between the Riaco and Guaviviara Rivers, the boundary follows the 200 m contour. The reserve extends inland to the boundary with La Amistad and the continental divide, and at its eastern end is contiguous with the Fortuna Forest Reserve. The lowest point (40 m) is in the valley of the Changuinola River, while the high point is at Cerro Azul (2,300 m) at the junction with La Amistad on the continental divide. Most of Palo Seco lies below 800 m. There are only a few readily accessible areas: the Teribe and Changuinola valleys, the Valle de Risco (although this area is largely deforested), and along the Oleoducto (Pipeline) Road between Chiriquí province and the town of Chiriquí Grande in Bocas del Toro.

Key biodiversity
Palo Seco shares most of its avifauna with La Amistad International Park and the Fortuna Forest Reserve, but lacks a few species only known to occur at higher elevations or on the Pacific slope west of Volcán Barú. It is undoubtedly an important site for the globally threatened Bare-necked Umbrellabird and Three-wattled Bellbird, although virtually nothing is known about their ecology in the area. Other globally threatened and near-threatened species shared with La Amistad include Harpy and Crested Eagle, Black Guan, Great Curassow, Great Green Macaw, Red-fronted Parrotlet, Resplendent Quetzal and Blue-and-gold Tanager. Palo Seco includes at least 32 of 54 species (59%) of the Costa Rica and Panama Highlands EBA, as well as 9 of 11 species (83%) of the Central American Caribbean Slope EBA. It also contains 33 of 68 species (49%) of biome N06 and 19 of 42 species (45%) of biome N05. Except for the Oleoducto Road and near Wekso on the Changuinola River, the reserve is ornithologically very poorly known, and many additional restricted-range and biome species undoubtedly occur.

Non-bird biodiversity: The fauna of Palo Seco is not well known, especially higher elevations. Mammals expected in the area include many of those of La Amistad International Park or Fortuna Forest Reserve, in particular Water Opossum, Slaty Mouse Opossum, Central American Wooly Opossum, Silky Anteater, Blackish Small-eared Shrew, Talamancan Small-eared Shrew, Ender's Small-eared Shrew, Honduran White Bat, Talamancan Yellow-shouldered Bat, Hairy-legged Vampire Bat, Thumbless Bat, Brazilian Free-tailed Bat, Central American Spider Monkey, Montane Squirrel, Sprightly Pygmy Rice Rat, Naked-footed Deer Mouse, Mexican Porcupine, Olingo, Neotropical River Otter, Ocelot, Margay, Jaguarundi, Puma, Jaguar and Baird's Tapir. Reptiles and amphibians found or expected include the frogs and toads Atelopus chiriquiensis, A. varius, Bufo fastidiosus, B. peripatetes, Crepidophyrne epiotica, Dendrobates speciosus, Duellmanohyla lythrodes, Duellmanohyla uranochroa, Hyla debilis, H. graceae, H. lancasteri, H. rivularis, H. tica, H. zeteki, Phyllomedusa lemur, Eleutherodactylus emcelae, E. jota, E. noblei, E. pardalis* and Rana vibricaria, the salamanders Bolitoglossa compacta, B. marmorea, B. minutula, B. robusta, Oedipina alfaroi and O. grandis, the lizards Anolis aquaticus, A. casildae, A. exsul, A. fortunensis and Sphenomorphus rarus, and the snakes Hydromorphus dunni, Urotheca guentheri, and U. pachyura.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2023) Important Bird Area factsheet: Palo Seco Protection Forest. Downloaded from on 02/06/2023.