Santa Maria Watershed, Panama // + CCNY


Tropical forests contain the highest percentage of the planet’s terrestrial carbon but are threatened by commodity-driven deforestation - primarily from palm-oil production in the Asian tropics and cattle ranching in the America tropics. Protecting current tropical forests and restoring degraded landscapes are imperative to reaching the U.N.'s Sustainable Development Goals in decreasing carbon emissions.

This project investigates the possibilities of eco-tourism, centered around Birding for communities in Central America, using the Santa Maria Watershed in Panama as a primary area of focus. The activity of Birding is one that not only provides income potential for local communities, but can also be used as a vehicle to intensify (bird-friendly) vegetation in sparsely vegetated landscapes - Supporting forest communities with tangible income opportunities beyond large-scale commodity activities, is key to preservation.

According the the preliminary findings of the  2016 National Survey of Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife-Associated Recreation produced by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Birdwatching has an economic benefit of $41 billion dollars per year. Roughly $17.3 billion is spent annually in wildlife-watching trip-related expenses in the U.S., with more than 20 million Americans taking birding-specific trips.

The summer-long exploration was conducted by CCNY architecture, landscape architecture and sustainability students, and includes research maps, a community participatory-design framework, and suggestive designs and planting-plan to support birds and other wildlife.



consultants / lead

Team Lead, Landscape Restoration Architect and Product Designer: Christine Facella



Sustainable Development Partner and Team Co-Lead: Alberto Pascual / Fundacion CoMunidad

Social Designer and Strategist: Andrea Miranda Salas

Bloomist, West Elm, Martha Stewart