Santa Fé National Park

Year of compilation: 2003

Site description
Santa Fe National Park extends along both slopes of the central cordillera above the town of Santa Fe (420 m) and the smaller settlements of Chitra, Gatú, Loma Chata, and Piedras Gordas (500-800 m), which all are on the Pacific slope. On the Caribbean slope it is contiguous with the Golfo de los Mosquitos Forests and to the east with Omar Torrijos National Park. The higher peaks within the park include Cerros Tute (1,081 m), Cabeza de Toro (1,412 m), Negro (1,431 m), Saro (1,518 m), San Antonio (1,414 m), and Chicú (1,764 m). The high point (unnamed on maps) is 1,964 m, and is located between the headwaters of the Concepción and Veraguas Rivers. The park incorporates the upper watersheds of the Santa María, Gatú, and San Juan Rivers on the Pacific slope and the Calovébora, Guázaro, Concepción, Veraguas, and Belén on the Caribbean. Park boundaries extend down to 400 m on the Pacific slope near Santa Fe and to 80 m on the Caribbean slope on the Guázaro River. There is a very distinct break in the Tabasará cordillera within the park west of Santa Fé, between Cerros Cabeza de Toro and Pira-gual, where the continental divide drops to 800 m. A gravel road passes from Santa Fe to Calovévora on the Caribbean through this gap. Although in recent years it has been impassable to vehicles much beyond the divide, it has recently been improved. The topography of most of the area is rugged, and access is difficult. The Ngöbe-Buglé Comarca borders the area on the west. The Santa Fé-Calovébora road and the lower slopes of Cerro Tute are well-known birding areas, but the only information on the birds of the higher peaks to the east are collections made in the 1860s (Salvin 1867, 1870)2 and in 1925-26.

Key biodiversity
The Santa Fe area is one of only two known sites for the globally threatened endemic Glow-throated Hummingbird. Specimens were collected in the area in the nineteenth century, although locality data are poor. There have been only two recent records, by F. G. Stiles in 1982 and B. Whitney in 1984, both from Cerro Tute. The species is otherwise known only from the Cerro Santiago area. The break in the cordillera at Santa Fe may represent the eastern end of its range. The nationally-endemic Yellow-green Finch is also found here, and is otherwise known to occur only at the Fortuna Forest Reserve, where it is rare, and at Cerro Santiago. In addition, the globally threatened Three-wattled Bellbird and Bare-necked Umbrellabird and the near-threatened Black Guan and Blue-and-gold Tanager also occur. The site contains 5 of 11 species (45%) of the Central American Caribbean Slope EBA, 32 of 54 species (59%) of the Costa Rica and Panama Highlands EBA, and 32 of 68 species (47%) of biome N06. Because of the low pass in the cordillera, many species typical of the Caribbean slope, including the Central American Caribbean Slope endemic Lattice-tailed Trogon, are found on the Pacific slope in the Santa Fe area. The only specimen of Great Horned Owl from Panama was collected above Chitra in 1868, but this most likely represents a vagrant individual rather than a resident population (Olson 1997).

Non-bird biodiversity: Mammals include Water Opossum, Central American Woolly Opossum, Silky Anteater, Northern Naked-tailed Armadillo, Talamancan Yellow-shouldered Bat, Spix’s Disk-winged Bat, Geoffroy’s Tamarin, Central American Spider Monkey, Chiriqui Pocket Gopher, Panamanian Spiny Pocket Mouse, Yellow Deer Mouse, Olingo, Neotropical River Otter, Ocelot, Margay, Jaguarundi, Puma, Jaguar, and Baird’s Tapir. Reptiles and amphibians that have been reported include the frogs and toads Atelopus varius, Colosthetus flotator, C. inguinalis, Dendrobates pumilio, Smilisca sordida, Eleutherodactylus gollmeri, E. melanostictus, E. pardalis, E. podiciferus, E. raniformis, and E. rugulosus, the salamander Bolitoglossa colonnea, the lizards Basiliscus vittatus, Leposoma southi, and Anolis lionotus, and the snakes Rhadinaea vermiculaticeps, Micrurus clarki, and Atropoides nummifer (Santamaría 2000).

Pressure/threats to key biodiversity
On the Pacific slope, colonization pressure for agriculture is relatively low near Santa Fe in the west but much more intense above Gatú and Chitra to the east, where deforestation has reached a much higher elevation. Population on the Caribbean slope itself is very low and deforestation pressure is minimal at present. Within the park limits deforestation is mainly confined to the lower slopes of Cerro Tute, the Altos de Piedra Road, and the Veraguas River watershed (Santamaría 2000). The higher peaks of the area are still virtually pristine. Hunting for subsistence and market may be a problem near populated areas. The picturesque and historic town of Santa Fe, easily reached by paved road, has great potential for ecotourism, although local facilities are minimal and there are few trails.

Conservation responses/actions for key biodiversity
None known.

Protected areas
Santa Fe National Park was established in 2001. At present it remains a "paper park," with no staff, facilities, or infrastructure. On its eastern boundary it is contiguous with Omar Torrijos National Park.

Habitat and land use
The area includes submontane forest along the cordillera with wet lowland evergreen forest on the Caribbean slope. The area is inhabited by latinos, especially on the Pacific slope, together with some Ngöbe and Buglé, principally to the west and onthe Caribbean slope. Most of the surrounding area is devoted to subsistence agriculture and cattle raising.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2021) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Santa Fé National Park. Downloaded from on 28/01/2021.