Project Highlights

Agua Salud provides a model for restoring degraded landscapes to productivity and supports the sustainable management of the Panama Canal Watershed
Collaboration between STRI and the Panama Canal Authority, Panama’s Environmental Ministry, the U.S. Geological Survey, the University of Wyoming, and other international partners
2 million people depend on water from the Panama Canal watershed
9 experimental watershed locations at the Agua Salud site
More than 150,000 trees planted since 2007
Topics: Ecosystems

The Agua Salud Project at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI) in Panama studies how degraded landscapes can be efficiently transformed into productive secondary forests, timber plantations, natural water utilities or eco-friendly livestock ranches. Agua Salud continues a 100-year old partnership between Smithsonian and Panama. This collaborative relationship began in 1910, with the Panama Biological Survey.

The Agua Salud research site was first established in the 1980s. In 2008, research was reinitiated, including a new research initiative focusing on land use alternatives based on native tree species. These species can maintain clean water, restore biodiversity, store carbon, provide timber, and support local economies.

Over the course of 20 to 40 years, STRI scientists will examine how forests can be used to best supply these and other essential services. Agua Salud will enrich knowledge of secondary tropical forests and how they can be managed to maximize essential services.