1. What does CREA stand for?
CREA stands for Conservation through Research, Education, and Action which represents the pillars that are necessary to tackle the issues of conservation in a sustainable way. We shortened it to CREA to make it easier for everyone to say and remember.
2. What does CREA do? Where do you work?
CREA works with local communities in Panama to protect and restore the natural ecology while working closely with local populations to implement more productive practices for living off the land. We have offices in Panama City and in San Rafael, California but our primary field work takes place in the Mamoni Valley in central Panama, an area which forms part of the important Mesoamerican biological corridor. However, we also have projects running in other areas of rural Panama such as the Panama Canal watershed and the western province of Chiriqui.
3. Where do you get your funding from?
We rely on the generosity of individual donors and on foundation grants for most of our funding needs. Our work is furthered through the aid of students and professionals interested in carrying out research in the uniquely biodiverse area in which we work. Furthermore, we are aware of the need to be partly self-reliant and run income-generating school trips to Panama. In the same vein, we are currently undertaking an exciting new initiative to use our natural resources to enter the carbon market with the goal of generating income for our work in the future. However, individual donors are, and will continue to be, our most important source of funding.
4. How can I help?
There is no end to the ways that someone interested in the work of CREA can help. Perhaps the most important and straightforward way to further CREA’s work is with a monetary contribution whether small or large. However, we also encourage our supporters to follow their passions and open a dialogue with us in terms of their interest level. We have engaged volunteers in projects that range from iguana farming to database development to photography. Every individual contributes to the long-term impact that we are making in the communities across Panama.
5. Do you ever need volunteers?
Yes, we have volunteer needs in Panama City and San Rafael, CA. If you have a particular interest, we encourage you to bring your ideas to us – no idea is too small or too big. We simply request that you bring an entrepreneurial spirit and a sense of mission with your interest.
If you do nott have an idea but are interested in helping us in some way, please contact us and we will review our endless project list to find a project that is a good fit with your skills and availability. Truly, we could not get by without our volunteers!
6. How many farmers/families have you helped?
Since its inception in 2004, CREA has worked with communities in the Panama Canal watershed area, in the villages that make up the central Mamoni Valley, and with communities in the coastal areas of the Chirqui Province. Our work has touched the lives of hundreds of locals whose new skill sets and behaviors have now begun to turn the tides in very small but incremental ways toward species and land protection. We are looking for ways to expand our reach and capacity to exponentially increase the number of people that our programs can touch.
7. How much land have you protected?
CREA initially placed 1000 acres of highly threatened rainforest under protection in 2005. Since then a grant provided by the IUCN afforded us the opportunity to acquire an additional 125 acres of contiguous rainforest in 2007. The Cocobolo Nature Reserve was established on this land as a field station for species and other ecological research and acts as a base for all of our Mamoni Valley based farmer training programs. We are also in active discussions to acquire stewardship rights for an additional 4000 acres that will significantly extend the borders for the land that we will protect and manage. Stay tuned for more announcements later this year.