Arimae is an indigenous community located in the Darien province about 100 miles from Panama City. This community consists of families from both the Emberá and Wounaan ethnicities.
When the community was founded, its residents controlled over 72,000 hectares of virgin rainforest. From 1969-1981, the community lost 64,000 hectares of its reserve to loggers, migrant subsistence farmers from other provinces and the Inter-American Highway expansion. Today Arimae communally manages just over 8,000 hectares of land and relies upon subsistence agriculture and day labor to support their families.
The community is dedicated to the conservation of its tropical forests and is constantly evaluating methods to foster economic development within the community while effectively managing its natural resources.
Arimae made progress towards this goal in 2010 through a successful project partnership with the UNDP-GEF Small Grants Program and Planting Empowerment. The purpose of the project was to create sustainable income-generating activities for community members while fortifying the cultural and environmental knowledge. Through this project, Arimae created a tree nursery and planted two hectares of cacao and four hectares of cocobolo trees. Learn more about the UNDP-GEF project.
Arimae has signed two 25-year lease agreements with Planting Empowerment as part of the Friends and Family and Adelante projects. The community uses the lease payments to help fund community projects and support legal efforts to protect its reserve from squatters and loggers.
Planting Empowerment's Field Supervisor, Liriano Opua, also calls Arimae home. Liriano studied agroforestry, and has been with us since early 2007. With the support of Planting Empowerment, he expects to complete a degree in forestry from The University of Panama.