Conservation & Birding Programs

Current Conservation Programs

Tropical Forest Restoration

Planting seeds in ITEC’s shade house

The Tropical Forest Restoration Program takes place both at ITEC’s field station in Boca del Drago and at our mainland property called Finca Maribella (FMB).  The forest restoration project involves germinating and planting native species of trees as well as education efforts in the local community schools.  The goals of the Tropical Forest Restoration Program are to reestablish the original biodiversity and carbon storing capacity of FMB and to educate the local community about the importance of doing so in order to protect our lowland rainforest ecosystem and counter global warming.

Local Environmental Education

LEEP volunteer providing a talk to students at Drago School

ITEC’s Local Environmental Education Program (LEEP), in alignment with the Tropical Forest Restoration Program, is oriented towards perhaps the most important issue today, climate change, and in particular addresses the relevance of ecosystem restoration as a method to mitigate the effects of climate change through carbon sequestration.  LEEP aims to implement an environmental education program that could become an effective way to promote  awareness in local school kids and help provide the skills they need to take responsible actions in protecting their environment. The LEEP program includes visits, activities and presentations at local schools and at the ITEC field station as well as planting seeds in the shade house tree nursery.

ITEC Birding Program

Keel-billed Toucan

Lying between two continents and between two oceans, Panama represents the intersection between North and South America and is one of the best locations for birding in the world. Nearly a 1000 bird species have been reported from the tiny country of Panama and the ITEC birding program will provide you with the opportunity of seeing many of them!

Previous Conservation Programs

Marine Turtle Monitoringbaby leatherbacks.web

This program was initiated in 1997 and involves the monitoring of sea turtle nesting activity on area beaches.  ITEC operated this program until 2000 when its management was taken over by the Sea Turtle Conservancy of Gainesville, Florida.  From 2000 to 2010 ITEC was involved in the acquisition of volunteers for this program.  However, recently a decision was made to allow only Panamanian nationals as volunteers for this program.  Please direct any questions or comments to the field director of this program, Cristina Ordoñez (

Forest RestorationTree-planting at Drago school.web

This project was initiated in 1998 and involved the collection of seeds, rearing of seedlings and their transplantation to pasture areas north of the old Bocas del Toro Biological Station.  The projects field director was Kelly Keef, Ph.D., and continued for three years.  The project was a success and 15 years later, hundreds of hectares that were previously pasture now support secondary forest.  A new project is planned for the vicinity of the new Bocas del Toro Biological Station which we hope to initiate in 2015.

Community EducationDrago school kids1.7m

The Community Education program was initiated in 2006 and was funded by a grant from Conservation International’s Critical Ecosystems Partnership Fund for three years.  The directors of this program were Dr. Patricia McDaniel and Gabriela Alonso Yáñez.  The program include the production of visual aids, lectures, field trips and games that demonstrated human connection to the environment.